At Byte Internet we've been using open source software throughout our existence. Our hosting cluster runs on Debian Linux, our website on Joomla, our database servers are MySQL, we track customers through Sugar CRM. And on my desktop I'm using Firefox, not because I think it's better, but it was the first browser to have tabbed browsing understandable for someone like me :).
On a slightly regular basis, one of our managing directors grabs our Paypal wallet, and goes on a donating spree. Mostly it's like a hundred euro to several open source projects. Besides, our technicians regularly find and help fix small bugs, write small additions to projects, and help customers to find their way around open source software.
But as a commercial business, and with our management team having a background in Business Economics, we've been looking for a more systematic and balanced way of contributing to open source projects. And just as easy as this sounds, only recently we have found a nice way to do this.
We attract a lot of customers using Joomla!, by giving clear explanations on how to use it, providing some additional support, promising to support future versions and testing all upgrades on different sites. We inform webdesigners on the possibilities it gives them ("Stop making your own CMS!"), and help them to work together and specialize. Besides, as any good sales person should, we use it ourself :). Add some ads to that, and you become known as a Joomla hosting provider. But now to find a way to keep Joomla! "all together" :)...
What if... we would donate 10 euro, for every new Joomla! website on our hosting service? Easy to administer, easy to communicate and a good donation to Joomla! Adding 10-25 sites every week, this could become a substantial contribution to this dedicated team. So here we go: Byte will donate 10 euro for every hosting account running Joomla!
Besides, we will be asking our webdesigners to kindly ask their customers for voluntary donation of say 20 euro, if they build a new website running on Joomla! On an average price of 1000 euro for a basic website, donating 2% for a great framework sounds reasonable. I've no idea if they will do it, or if their customers will refuse, but it might be another good push.
So what could this mean?
Donating more regularly and more on a pay-per-instance base, could help to keep the spirit high in open source projects. Being able to meet, being able to buy some goodies for a server, being able to get some hired guns for legal issues, do some marketing, or maybe just have a good diner together, can all contribute to maintaining the high pace of work, the level of professionalism and the momentum. If every hosting provider and every webdesigner would contribute in such a way, open source projects could end up with a stable source of funding. Besides, it could add a little tangible appreciation to developers, in eliminating travel expenses, etc. In time we might add a recurring component, contributing say every year for every Joomla! site. But let's see how this works out first. Besides, educating webdesigners and customers to understand that open source software was not created by emptying a bag of marbles on a keyboard, but by hard and dedicated work, can only add to the appreciation and support these projects need.
But, but, you're spoiling the open source spirit!
I don't think so. Getting to know the Dutch Joomla community and core members a little better, I have seen, amongst others, the need for just plain funding. For us, that is the quickest way to get support for Joomla! up. So that's what we will do :).
Gruus van Woerkom, MSc.
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One opinion we didn't want to whithold:
In name of the board of directors of OpenSourceMatters, Inc, the Joomla! Core Team members and our many community contributors I would like to thank Byte.nl for the generous donation.
We applaud your intention to donate on a regularly basis to the open source projects you are using can hope that your initiative can serve as an example for other commercial companies using open source solutions. It might be nice to know that Byte.nl is the third hosting provider world wide that is supporting the Joomla! project. The others are Rochen and Godaddy. Keep up the good work !
Joomla! - Project Manager
Opensourcematters, Inc - board member
Please check Joomla donations to see which Byte customers already donated their setup fee to the project (in Dutch).