Episode 47 – Fork You Growl! Interview with Perry Metzger
For those who may not know, the developer of Growl, that great little notifier app for OSX decided they should be paid for their work. There is one slight problem however. Growl is Open Source Software.
It's not like we've never seen this before. A company starts an open source product, gets a bunch of people to contribute to it and then keeps a separate branch of development for themselves and their paying customers. Eventually enhancements and bug fixes make their way into the Open Source version of the product. In the case of Growl however OSX Lion happened, and what better way to profit than to create a private branch of Growl, put all the fixes needed to operate Growl under OSX Lion and throw it up on the AppStore for $1.99. Yeah, they never bothered to feed the fixes back into the OSS version of Growl. They took their proverbial ball and they're going straight to the bank with it.
One of the biggest problems with this approach, other than the fact they just pissed off a lot of people who beleive strongly in OSS, is that Growl is still broken. So you pay your $1.99 and it no workie.
So while these snake-oil salesmen are busy fleecing their users via the AppStore along comes a guy who's had just about enough. A paying customer who was extremely dishearten by the fact a piece of software he paid for just didn't work as advertised. His name is Perry Metzger, and he forked Growl. Not only did he fork it, he fixed it, and it's free. Now the road for Perry wasn't smooth, he tried to reason with the authors of Growl, he tried to help existing users who were left out in the cold, and the thanks he got was a cease and desist and a one month ban from the Growl mailing list. Open Source Software indeed.
Have a listen to Perry's story and please let him know he's fighting the good fight.