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Cosource.com Enters Live Beta!

By Norman M. Jacobowitz

Cosource.com is a web site which gathers financial support for Open Source projects. Users who have been frustrated by some missing software feature, nagging bug, or unsupported hardware can use Cosource.com to fund an effort to get it fixed. Developers can write Open Source projects ... and get paid for it. Projects that run on any platform are welcome.

Let's say you have a sound card for your home PC, for which there is no Linux driver. You learn that the manufacturer would prefer to have a Linux driver, but for whatever reason there isn't one. Here's how you would solve the problem with Cosource.com:

  1. Go to the site and register as a member, and login.

  2. Browse the request lists. If someone else already has submitted the same request, just add that request to your watchlist. You'll be notified whenever a proposal to develop your request is submitted.

  3. If there's not already a request submitted, you can enter a new request for a driver for your sound card via the 'Submit Request' form, listing the full functional requirements per the instructions found on there.

  4. Developers can then submit proposals to develop the driver. As part of a developer's proposal, he or she names someone who serves as an 'Authority', or third-party peer-reviewer for the project. It this Authority who serves as arbiter of success or failure for the project.

  5. You and other members -- perhaps even the manufacturer of the card -- then review proposals, and may elect to commit funds to one or more. The minimum commitment is $10 US.

  6. Whichever proposal first gathers enough commitments to cover its bid wins and enters development. The Authority reviews and tests the software prior to release.

  7. Once the Authority declares the project complete, it is released ... then you and all others who committed funds pay your commitment via credit card. Cosource.com then pays the developer and authority for their work.

The above example shows how non-developers can now have Open Source packages written to suit their needs. Plus, no single individual or corporation is stuck with paying the full tab for the development.

The card manufacturer mentioned above can help make their product available to the Linux Community at a fraction of the full cost of paying to develop the driver themselves. This process also gives developers a financial incentive to spend more of their programming time producing Open Source products.

Organizations or individuals who own the copyright to a complete software package may also use Cosource.com to solicit funds in exchange for re-licensing their product as Open Source.

It's the goal of Cosource.com to make all of the above factors work in favor of the entire Open Source community.

Cosource.com is now conducting a Live Beta program. Everyone is welcome to sign up as a member (it's free) and test the site. Hopefully, the site will be fully live and relatively bug-free within a few weeks.

Norm Jacobowitz is VP of Marketing at Cosource.com. Write him at norm@cosource.com.

Copyright © 1999, Norman M. Jacobowitz
Published in Issue 44 of Linux Gazette, August 1999