A little over a month ago I ran a small scale experiment to gauge the appetite for funding the improvement of core Linux technologies via crowd funding. This is something that I had wanted to support myself since I first heard about kickstarter but nothing ever arose, hence why I started my own campaign. The idea was simple, if funding was successful I would take two weeks leave from my day job and commit to two weeks working on the Mesa project. For those not familiar Mesa is the project that supplies the open source graphics card drivers for Linux, this is the type of Linux project which like the kernel itself receives the bulk of support from corporations such as Intel, RedHat, VMWare, etc. The challenge was on to disprove the myth that desktop Linux users want everything for free and are not willing to pay for improvements to their operating system.
Despite major hurdles such as my lack of previous experience as a Mesa developer and limited exposure of the campaign due to the majority of Linux news related websites not wishing to publish news about it (this probably comes back to my lack of previous experience with Mesa) the campaign was an overwhelming success finishing at $3205 after 30 days with a initial funding goal of just $2500. With funding met early in the campaign I was able to start a week early and deliver the promised features within a week of the campaigns end.
Considering this achievement one would assume that the conclusion of this experiment is of-course ‘yes’ you can crowd fund development of core Linux technologies. However a goal of my project was to encourage further campaigns to kickstart (pun intended) core Linux technologies which still lag behind their proprietary cousins such as the Mesa project. In order to help with this I have been running a survey over the past week open to both backers and non-backers with 6 simple questions about this campaign and the prospect of future campaigns. Survey: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/3LX8WNC
So without further delay here are the results so far from 65 respondents (I hope publishing this article will encourage more ):
1. Did you back this campaign?
2. On a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) how happy are you with the outcome of this campaign?
3. Would you back a similar campaign in the future?
4. If you were to back a similar campaign in the future how much would you contribute?
The same: 69.8%
Questions and 5. & 6.
I will dedicate a different article two as these are specific to my campaign.
As can be clearly seen by the answers to question 3 this is not just a once off deal, users are willing to donate on multiple occasions to improve core Linux technologies. So I urge anyone out there who wants to work on improving the Linux desktop, but without the opportunity to do it as part of their day job, to give crowd-funding a try the appetite is out there. Good Luck.
To view the campaign that I ran see: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/help-improve-opengl-support-for-the-linux-graphics-drivers/x/2053460