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[board-discuss] Personal: and software freedom.

Hi Jan-Marek,

        Thanks for your mail; there are lots of interesting points here, some
of them shared by others too. Here is my take:

On 06/07/2020 21:52, Jan-Marek Glogowski wrote:
The people involved in the decision set this time frame themselves.
Nothing is forcing this change to be made in the LO 7.0 release cycle.

        True; and deferring is an option the board has outlined. At some stage
soon we need to grasp this nettle as a community though. I guess after
you wrote this - I outlined the problems that the proposal solves. I
would be interested in your feedback in the light of that really.

7. This is a complex decision involving many overlapping concerns...

It feels strange, that this information is officially shared "after the
fact" (as in "after the LO source was patched").

        Clearly we could have done better by blogging, having a wider
discussion but there were lots of opportunities to get involved and give
feedback in board meetings, on board-discuss and so on, this was in the
agenda and public minutes for weeks. We even had abnormally large
numbers showing up to those board meetings so people were interested.
Clearly next time we'll do more shouting from the roof-tops.

And I personally think, arguments like Michael Meeks (quoting from IRC):

"Individual users don't need to contribute, but they would be OK with
Personal. But corporate users, that also don't have to contribute, must
realize that any software used in a business process must be supported
by some spercific people: either their employees, or hired staff."

are simply invalid. LO is free software, so everyone can use it, not
just a "person", like it's IMHO implied by the rename.

        Because it is free software lots of things are possible is true - that
because they are possible they are therefore good, is not necessarily so.

        Many things are legal, but many fewer are moral.

        As a silly example: you have the complete right to fork LibreOffice and
not contribute anything back - but this is something we generally
discourage except in extremis: we want everyone to contribute and work

        Steering people towards things that help to build the community and
codebase is extremely useful. In the same way many people think that
steering people towards environmentally friendly alternatives might help
improve the environment despite there being no legal requirement.

I guess the people are already aware of the support implications,
and otherwise don't care. And if not, then this should be made
more prominent.

        This is one way of making it prominent,, as you say it is implied by
the rename; it is also an industry standard for successful ecosystems:

        Fedora vs. RedHat Enterprise Linux vs. CentOS.
        SUSE vs openSUSE

        Each has a clear, trademarked brand, and a clear separate positioning,
they 'proprietize' via the branding. All of them are "free software, so
everyone can use it" =) Just like a potential "LibreOffice Personal".

        TDF's current positioning (despite the download page having this
green/highlighted text):

        "For business deployments, we strongly recommend
         support from certified partners which also offer
         long-term support versions of LibreOffice."

        is demonstrably ~completely ineffective, as I outlined. It simply fails
to encourage ~anyone to get support. We get many hundreds of thousands
of people a month ignoring that, many thousands per day.

        That impacts the whole ecosystem - not just developers but trainers and
migrators too who contribute in many other ways across the project.

        As such - I think a more drastic approach is called for, somewhere;
whether it is the product name, or a more drastic steer on the download
page, or ... something.

        Where do you think that should be ? Or are you up for a much smaller,
pure volunteer project ? (which is where the status quo heads).

What eventually will happen is a lot of people wondering, what is going
on. No idea, if this will be good or bad marketing in the end;

        Absolutely. It will encourage a lot of conversations - that's not all
bad; some will say:

        "Just use Personal in our business you don't have
         to pay, and it has all the features"

        others will be:

        "I didn't deploy that because I'm scared of it,
         I can afford to run a large enterprise and buy
         PCs but want my enterprise software for free"

        yet others might be:

        "I didn't realize its a good thing to contribute by
         buying support & services, I can't deploy Personal
         to my staff, so lets see: wow it's far cheaper
         than the alternatives, and my money pays for fixes
         that make my staff and the community happy !"

        And many other options including direct contribution =) We don't know
the impact exactly. It will ensure that people talk about this, and ask
about it, and help promote the idea of contributing via the ecosystem.

        Clearly we may loose users who don't want to contribute initially; but
in return we may get more developers - which in turn drives a virtuous
cycle of feature/function improvement.

        Currently we have a very large number of users, and a rather small set
of paid developers 3+ million users for each paid developer or so =)

        For myself, if there is a trade-off to make here - and I'm sure people
are right that there is; I would accept temporarily fewer users for more
developers; if we have to loose a million users (0.5%) to gain 10
full-time developers - +25% - to me that is a reasonable short-term
trade-off. Now it's different when it comes to loosing volunteer
contributors - that is a tragedy too. When TDF had a mentor we would ask
~everyone leaving for their reasons & follow up on that - I wonder if we
still do that.

        Anyhow we have tried the "if you give it away for free to everyone, and
set the price expectation at zero, then they will come and contribute"
mode for a decade. Aside from a small number of remarkable successes -
your work at Munich was awesome =) this model is not delivering
sustained growth for LibreOffice.

        If we make this trade-off, and if it results in ecosystem growth, I am
certain that LibreOffice will improve significantly. Quite possibly then
people will come back and use it regardless of the splash-screen =)

        My real concern is how to make LibreOffice ever more awesome and
kick-start that virtuous cycle for the desktop.

Maybe it would simply be better to offer downloads to the TDF version,
clearly stating the 6 / 9 months support cycle and linking to the
"Professional Support" page, stating that commercial versions with
longer support cycles and paid support are available (just stating this
fact as it) and TDF endorsed, then these naming shenanigans?

        We do that with a rather light touch currently. And we know it doesn't
work. The current open discussion also includes how to water down the
'About' dialog message to make it a mild suggestion. So can we build
consensus on a website that actually tells people to use an enterprise
edition in business ?

        What message is that going to use ? the software is the same in both
cases - so ? ...

        Possibly a stronger steer on the website would be effective - we can
try that, if we can build consensus across several hundred people for that.

        For my part I really think a chunk of the push-back here is based on
understanding how effective the Personal tag is at driving change here,
and not wanting to change in a way that grows the LibreOffice ecosystem,
the product, at the expense of a possible temporary dip in the user-base =)



-- <><, GM Collabora Productivity
Hangout:, Skype: mmeeks
(M) +44 7795 666 147 - timezone usually UK / Europe

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