[OT?] No more financial support for GnuPG

Werner Koch wk@gnupg.org
Wed May 14 20:40:35 2003

On Tue, 13 May 2003 22:46:14 +0200, Juergen Fenn said:

> According to German IT news service heise.de the German Federal
> Government will no longer sponsor development of GnuPG:

Well, it says that there won't be any direct funding[1].  The reason
is that they want to foster competition and not finance a few

The problem is that a Free Software project won't be able to compete
against a proprietary product as long as the long term values of Free
Software are not understood by most people responsible for IT
decisions.  Software development is expensive and whether it is
proprietary or free doesn't change much of the actual development
costs.  There are other costs involved with commercial products
(e.g. advertising) which a Free Software project can't afford because
there is no way of re-financing this utilizing the money printing
machinery of license fees (if you are one of the not so many with a
"killer" application).  Thus, any competition between a Free Software
project and a proprietary product will be unfair.

The big advantages of Free Software are the avoidance of vendor
lock-in, the in general better standard compliance, the abstain of
unneeded gadgets for marketing reasons and the huge base of valuable
testers and other helpers.  Still this can't compete with a commercial
and proprietary product.  Taking me as an example, I spend a lot of my
time with general GnuPG maintenance and trying to find additional time
to do new developments - only a very small amount of this gets paid
for by consulting/support/development.  This is a hard business and I
recall several times when I considered to give it all up and take a
straight coder job somewhere.  As long as the perception of Free
Software is directed towards the free as in beer aspect, I doubt that
it will change.

Advertised bidding with fair treatment of Free Software companies are
of course a good solution to foster the development of Free Software.
In my experience, those tenders often stress too often the money
saving factor and do not consider the extra value given by non-vendor
lock-in and better standard compliance.  Support contracts are also a
good revenue source but there are too many answers already available
on the net .-) so that companies might not consider to seek for
commercial support.

> I would like to ask what will be the implications from this? Support
> worth millions of Euros has been put on halt, heise.de says. German

That is in so-far not true, as the article from last fall talking
about this has to be considered a fake - according to German

> platforms unless there would have been some sponsoring. So will this
> change of policy slow down or even threaten further development of
> GnuPG for Windows? 

I can only speak for me and my company: Without financial support we
won't be able to do much for Windows; so it is up to the volunteer to
do this in their spare time or with other companies resources.



[1] Regarding the funding activities: There used to be the GnuPG
funding of the BMWi in 1999/2000 with a total amount of 140kEuro
(where we learned a lot on how not to spend money for ;-) and the
GnuPP CD + manual project in early 2002; I don't know any details
about the latter.

  Nonviolence is the greatest force at the disposal of
  mankind. It is mightier than the mightiest weapon of
  destruction devised by the ingenuity of man. -Gandhi