5 free software to support with Flattr

Flattr FOSS LogoIt’s already the fourth issue of Flattr FOSS: it means 20 different projects using Flattr that I presented you. Here are the 5 suggestions for November:

  1. Redshift is a small utility that adjusts the color temperature of your screen to make it less aggressive on your eyes, in particular during evening/nights. It uses the time of the day and the geographic location to know whether it’s night or day. I discovered it this summer and I liked it, although I’m not running it permanently.
  2. Noscript is a Firefox plugin to control what sites can execute javascript, flash and other plugins. All those are creating supplementary security risks and you browse safer if you allow only some sites to run them. This is the number one entry on Flattr in the opensource category, it recently took the place of dpkg.
  3. phyMyAdmin is a web interface to manage MySQL databases. If you have such a database on a web-hosting service, you have likely already seen it in action. It’s an award-winning software with a 12 year history, it’s not so common for PHP applications. :-)
  4. Chromium maintenance in Debian. Chromium is a rapidly-evolving & complex software and Giuseppe Iuculano has been tirelessly working on packaging it. Almost alone within Debian. He deserves kudos for his work even though he reused work made by Fabien Tassin on the Ubuntu package.
  5. Dulwich is a pure-Python implementation of the Git file formats and protocols. It’s an important building block for interoperability between Bazaar and Git: bzr-git (a Bazaar plugin providing Git integration) is notably using it. Given the large usage of bzr in Ubuntu and the popularity of Git world-wide, it’s important to have such gateways.

This article is part of the Flattr FOSS project.

Update: mentioned the work of Fabien Tassin on the chromium package within Ubuntu.

Secret figures of a Debian/Ubuntu blogger: what you liked most on raphaelhertzog.com

Chart goes up on screenI launched raphaelhertzog.com this summer (taking over the English content of my former multi-lingual blog), when I decided that I would be more serious about blogging on Debian/Ubuntu related topics. On September, I decided to write 2 articles per week and up to now I managed to keep the schedule.

Two of my articles were published by Linux Weekly News, those are much more researched than the average blog article (they are tagged with [LWN] in the list below).

The most popular articles

Most people read my blog through the RSS feed which happens to be syndicated on Planet Debian and Planet Ubuntu. According to the feedburner’s statistics, the top-5 articles are:

  1. 5 reasons why I still contribute to Debian after 12 years (32700 views)
  2. [LWN] Understanding Membership Structures in Debian and Ubuntu (31700 views)
  3. Social Micropayment Can Foster Free Software, Discover Flattr (30100 views)
  4. Everything you need to know about conffiles: configuration files managed by dpkg (29900 views)
  5. How to make 110.28 EUR in one month with free software and Flattr (29400 views)

But I also have occasional readers visiting my blog because my articles are announced on Identi.ca, Twitter and Facebook (and they circulate on social networks, thanks to those who are sharing them!). The top-5 articles according to the statistics of my website are:

  1. 5 reasons why I still contribute to Debian after 12 years (6000 views)
  2. [LWN] Can Debian offer a Constantly Usable Testing distribution? (5000 views)
  3. Understanding Debian’s release process (1500 views)
  4. Flattr FOSS (1400 views, not an article but I regularly blog about this project)
  5. Can Debian achieve world domination without being on Facebook? (1100 views)

The most flattered

Since I am using Flattr on my blog, it can be interesting to see the articles which generated lots of flattr micro-donations. The top-3 articles are my articles about Flattr (1, 2, 3). Excluding articles related to Flattr, the top-5 is:

  1. 5 reasons why I still contribute to Debian after 12 years (12 flattr)
  2. The secret plan behind the “3.0 (quilt)” Debian source package format (10 flattr)
  3. How to use multiple upstream tarballs in Debian source packages? (5 flattr)
  4. [LWN] Understanding Membership Structures in Debian and Ubuntu (4 flattr)
  5. Do You Want a Free Debian Book? Read on. (4 flattr)

Most articles get 2 to 3 flattr clicks.

The most commented

I usually get 4-5 comments on most articles but some generate much more feedback:

  1. [LWN] Can Debian offer a Constantly Usable Testing distribution? (40 comments)
  2. 5 reasons why I still contribute to Debian after 12 years (22 comments)
  3. Can Debian achieve world domination without being on Facebook? (15 comments)
  4. How to generate different dependencies on Debian and Ubuntu with a common source package (14 comments)
  5. [LWN] Understanding Membership Structures in Debian and Ubuntu (12 comments)


Here are my conclusions based on the above figures:

  • Writing about your Debian/Ubuntu work and your long term involvement makes for highly popular content that spreads well.
  • In-depth and well researched articles (like those written for LWN) do not generate more flattr revenues than the average article even if they take 4 to 8 times as long to write.
  • People are more likely to flattr you for your free software contribution than for the value they get out of your article.
  • People care a lot about the Debian release process, and like to discuss the topic.

If you also appreciate the above-linked articles, you should click here to subscribe to my email newsletter.

Flattr FOSS suggestions for october

Flattr FOSS LogoA new month has just begun, it’s again time for a few suggestions of free software projects to flattr. This is Flattr FOSS in action.

Enough said, let’s start with my suggestions:

  1. The battle for Wesnoth is a great turn-based tactical strategy game (I spent countless hours on it a few years ago). It’s been a long time I have not played on my computer, but opensource games should be encouraged. Lack of good games is one of the few recurring complaints that come back from people trying out Linux for the first time. And The battle for Wesnoth is a very active project, so there’s no reason to not support them.
  2. Shutter is the next-generation tool to take screenshots, it’s quite popular at least in Ubuntu and it can easily replace the default gnome-screenshot application. You can apply various effects on the fly, and upload the resulting pictures directly on image hosting sites (Flickr, Picasa, etc.).
  3. Awesome is a highly configurable window-manager for X. I use it as a tiling window manager (windows are arranged to always fill the entire screen). Its configuration file consists of LUA code so it’s for power-users mainly… Julien Danjou started Awesome but he has also written many other small nifty tools, discover them in his Flattr profile.
  4. Sparkleshare is a new collaboration tool that will transparently synchronize a folder between several computers/persons and inform you in real-time of changes. Under the hood, it uses public Git hosting sites (like Github or Gitorious) to store and exchange the data. In some aspects, it’s like Dropbox’s shared folders. You can also read Linux Weekly News’ review of it.
  5. My last suggestion is to support Harald Welte and his projects. Click here to see his Flattr profile. He is someone in the free software world. First of all he’s a famous kernel hacker, he wrote much of the firewalling code (known as netfilter). He also initiated gpl-violations.org and ensured that the GNU General Public License was respected when he found out companies that failed to meet the terms of the license. Lately he has been reverse-engineering the whole GSM stack — pointing out security problems as he discovers them — with the goal to provide a free implementation of everything (first results are in projects OsmocomBB and OpenBSC). Isn’t that impressive?

That’s it for this month. By the way, did you tell your friends how easy it is to support free software with Flattr? Share this article with them and let them join Flattr FOSS too.

Free and opensource software to Flattr

Flattr FOSS LogoSince I published “How to make 110.28 EUR in one month with free software and Flattr”, quite a few people joined the movement and I had less troubles finding projects to Flattr. That’s great! :-)

Without further ado, here are my recommendations for september:

  1. Smuxi is an IRC application that integrates from the start the need to be permanently connected. You can run the “engine” on a server and the graphical interface connects there. The engine has all the intelligence so it remembers what message you last saw in each channel (including highlights) and you won’t miss anything. I recently switched to it and I like it. It’s not perfect but it’s improving quickly. The next version even supports Ubuntu’s messaging indicator for better integration with the desktop.
  2. Geshi is a PHP class used by many other software to provide enhanced views of code on web pages by coloring the various parts based on the syntax of the respective programming language. It’s used by Wikipedia, many blog plugins and lots of other web applications.
  3. Git-buildpackage is a set of tools developed by Guido Günther to make it easier to maintain Debian packages in Git repositories. I use it for several packages that I maintain.
  4. Mixare is an augmented reality browser. Take your Android phone and it will incrust information in the (camera) view of the environment. Impressive video on the website.
  5. Lightspark is is a modern flash player implementation targetting ActionScript 3.0 support (while Gnash only supports older versions). It’s one of those few projects that are really needed to get rid of the non-free Adobe plugin that almost everybody installs because there’s nothing else that work well enough.

This article is part of the Flattr FOSS project.

How to make 110.28 EUR in one month with free software and Flattr

Flattr FOSS Logo

  1. Create an account on Flattr.com (mine is here);
  2. Submit the URL of your free software project to the Flattr directory with a good description and the proper tags (here’s my entry for dpkg);
  3. Add a Flattr button on your website (I put one on wiki.debian.org/Teams/Dpkg);
  4. Inform your users and reach out to free software users using Flattr by registering your project in Flattr FOSS.

And I’m not alone, Joey Hess made 25 EUR in one week only.

And right now only 30K people are using Flattr. I expect this number to increase significantly now that invites are no longer required to open a Flattr account (see the announce on Flattr’s blog).

It’s time to spread the word about Flattr FOSS!

First Flattr FOSS Suggestions

Flattr FLOSS LogoThe Flattr FOSS project is quite young so very few free software are currently listed in the dedicated directories. It’s still advocacy time: if there are free software that you’d like to flattr, please tell them and point them to Flattr FOSS.

It’s too early for any conclusion, but the feedback from users is good and it looks like that people using flattr to support free software are more generous than the average flattr user. You’re great people! :-)

Anyway, it’s time for me to give a few suggestions of projects to flattr.

  1. My first recommendation is Project Hamster, it’s a time-tracking application for GNOME but it has come a long way thanks to the work of Toms Bauģis. I use everyday and it rocks.
  2. My second recommendation is Överallt, it’s a Firefox extension that allows usage of Flattr even in places where it was not designed to be used: forums, mailing list archives, etc. The persons using Flattr just put [Flattr=20693] in their signature and the Firefox extension automatically replaces this text with a real Flattr button ready to be clicked. Thanks to Paul Da Silva for the nice idea and the first implementation!
  3. My third recommendation is Mustard, it’s a StatusNet client for the Android platform. More concretely you can install it on your Android phone to send updates to identi.ca while traveling. I have no Android phone but Mustard seems to be popular among owners of such phones!
  4. My fourth recommendation is moreutils from Joey Hess. It’s set of unix (command line) tools that “nobody else thought of writing when unix was young” (according to Joey himself). They are all very useful, I use more or less regularly isutf8 (verify if a file is UTF-8 compliant), combine (logical operations on lines of two files), pee (send standard input to two programs, very useful in git hooks when you want to run two programs that both consume the same data), sponge (ever tried “grep -v foo file >file” and lost your data? now you can use “grep -v foo file | sponge file”). And Joey is a long time Debian developer who has truly shaped Debian, he’s behind several major Debian projects (debconf, debian-installer, debhelper, …). Big kudos to him!
  5. My last recommendation is to flattr Andreas Gohr for his work as dokuwiki lead developer. There’s no flattr button on dokuwiki’s website but you’ll find some in Andreas’ blog, just pick a dokuwiki related article like this one: Dokuwiki Birthday Bughunting Weekend. Dokuwiki is a simple wiki that works without any database (the pages are stored in flat files) and it’s even commonly used to setup simple websites thanks to the numerous themes available.

Okay, that’s it for this month. I’ll try to keep a broad panel of software (desktop, command line, mobile, web, etc.). Since I have promoted a GNOME desktop application, I would like to be able to promote a KDE or XFCE application next month but I did not discover any KDE/XFCE project using Flattr… do you know any? Please share in the comments if you find some.

Also I wonder if you have decided of a flattr strategy… Personally I’m likely to flattr my favorites projects/persons each month and to flattr a few other occasionally as I discover them. What’s your own strategy?

Social Micropayment Can Foster Free Software, Discover Flattr

Social Micropayment

Flattr LogoA social micropayment system allows you to donate a small amount of money (a few pennies/cents) to thank someone else for a good blog post, piece of music, … or for a free software that you enjoy. That’s what Flattr is all about.

How Flattr works

With Flattr, donating is as easy as a single click on a Flattr button that content providers (read “free software developers”) embed on their websites. A Flattr button is very similar to a “Digg” button or other social buttons (you can look at the end of this blog post for a sample).

The amount donated per flattr varies from month to month because you define a fixed amount of money to spend each month (minimum 2€) and it’s split evenly between all the things that you appreciated. You can flattr as much as you want, it won’t cost you more.

Support Free Software with Flattr

Free Software lacks a good business model to fund the creation of software, yet someone has to pay the time spent in writing the code. Many projects have tried to ask for donations but the amount collected rarely covers more than the expenses for the website hosting.

Flattr makes it so easy to donate that this is possibly about to change. Flattr users have to spend their monthly amount each month, otherwise it gets donated to charity. Thus if it takes off, most Flattr users will grow the habit of doing regular donations to projects that they use and appreciate.

Bootstrapping the Process

Flattr FLOSS LogoFlattr is a new service, not many projects are using it to accept donations and not many users are participating yet. But it’s growing quickly on both sides.

In order to help users who want to support Free Software with Flattr, I have started the Flattr Free and Open Source Software project. You can subscribe to a newsletter to receive a monthly reminder with recommendations of Free Software to Flattr. If you have more time, you can also browse public directories listing various Free Software projects using Flattr so that you can manually pick your favorites.

To learn more about the Flattr FOSS project, click here.

I also invite Free Software developers to setup Flattr on their websites, blogs, … and to register those sites so that Flattr users can easily find them. To learn more about this, check out the Earn a Living With Free Software page.

Share the News

Flattr can change the situation of many small but popular free software projects struggling with a single developer who started it as a hobby and who can’t afford to spend more free time on it.

But this can only happen if lots of users start using Flattr to support the Free Software that they benefit from. So share the news, tell the friends, join Flattr FOSS and give some Flattr-love every month.

Get Your Free Flattr Invite!

Flattr is still in beta, but they like Free Software a lot and have offered 30 invites for the launch of Flattr FOSS. You can get yours by subscribing either to my main newsletter or to the Flattr FOSS one. Just reply to the welcome email you get after having subscribed and ask for your invite.