Why won't the devs implement my feature or fix my bug?

As I explained just above, that kind of process existed a lot around 2005.
If patreon, tipee or libreapay are more popular today , it’s probably because the bounty model does not answer the need of user and developers that well.

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I believe there’s two main issues with bounties and micro-payments of any sorts: 1. Many devs already have a job and tons of other obligations (see OP), and they like those (mostly) and the open-source project is very important to them, but as a hobby. Here money isn’t a factor. 2. The unreliability and up-front cost/risk that needs to be taken by a dev that would like to make it their job. You need to deliver first to get people to trust you and pay you. And even then it’s an up-hill battle. See e.g. @anon41087856 which is working full-time on open-source since what feels like quite a long time now (about a year?) and definitely does deliver great value, and he is approaching 200 euros/week on liberapay - that’s not a living wage.

Even with a foundation backed with some funds it’s hard to pay for development, because contracting is super hard. You usually can’t just take anyone to do the feature, you need someone that knows the code-base well. Finding a contractor that can familiarise themselves with it and then implement the feature in what’s usually a pretty constraint budget is almost impossible, respectively a time-demanding job in itself.

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Paying for dev in darktable is the same struggle as funding Wikipedia. Given the number of users, something like 1-2€/year/user would probably secure at least 2 full-time devs. But the web is free, the software is free, so it’s costless in people’s mind.

I have 187 patrons right now, which is quite a lot if you compare to other projects, but going “only” to 500 patrons would leave me a net income equals to minimal (monthly) wage in my country.

It’s not super hard to find devs, there are a bunch around. Convincing some of them to allow perhaps 25% of their working time could be doable if they were paid enough. But for that you need money. And the beautiful thing is that money is out there, I mean we probably have several 100k users and most of them should have a couple of €/$ to spare.

The challenge is yet to educate these 100k users. In rich countries, a pint of beer is around 5-8 €. Most people don’t think too much before buying one to themselves or to friends. Yet, when it’s time to donate to a project that creates value for themselves, most of them get shy or think someone else will provide, so why bother ?

Bother because 100k beers/years make 4 senior/8 junior developers yearly wage, and developer’s yearly work is what you want for the software you use. Even if you don’t know it, you really want that.

If you want quality software, someone competent needs to put in the hours. There is no shortcut to that. Opensource done on spare time looks like what it is : amateur work. Only designing a sensible user interface needs interaction with real users, several iterations of design, a couple of back-and-forth feedback loops… no hobbyist dev has time for that and wants to bother either (that probably reminds him too much of his day job anyway). There is no way to do good software on saturdays evening with devs who don’t feel accountable for their work because it’s a hobby and they didn’t get paid for it. We all know that the biggest flaw of opensource is usually the interface design (or rather, the lack thereof), and the reason is it is really too time-consuming for a hobbyist dev.

So it all falls back to that : do you want to use your pocket money to improve your tools, or not ?

Let me answer that : it’s time to up the opensource game, at least as high as commercial software. Opensource means the code is public, which is good for privacy, long-term availability/compatibility and hackability. It is the only way to do software that will not turn your machine against you anytime soon (hello Cambridge Analytica, and so on).

But in practice, opensource usually means “less good software for which I didn’t pay”, and it really should not have to sum up to that.

Also, “donating” opensource tools gives a chance to the less rich countries and less rich people, because they can first get the tools for free if they cannot afford them, without being withheld by a paywall, then start a commercial activity and perhaps improve their living, and then give back when they can. (That’s me being a hopeless socialist, sorry not sorry, Uncle Sam).

But if you think devs don’t create value for you, then, sure, don’t bother.

PS/Edit : on another note, since opensource doesn’t have owners and shareholders, it doesn’t have to make profit margin, it just has to pay for dev time and their health/retirement insurance. So, paid opensource would actually be much cheaper than your usual corporate software.

Edit 2 : additionally, commercial imaging software is not that good. Sure, they have lots of candy features, AI stuff and auto stuff everywhere, but they are stacked on top of rotten pipelines and 30 years-old design meant for scanned film. Can you guess how many pieces of commercial soft do proper alpha compositing ?


After reading this thread, I can better understand what each of you go through developing open source projects, especially for money and time constraints, plus all the additional headaches like UI testing and surveys that are not possible because of lack of funds, time, and prior commitments such as days jobs, bills, etc.

I am part of the people seriously considering switching to open source personally because of the cost and the ridiculous rate of having to replace my computer every four or five years because of forced OS updates that make perfectly functional computers incompatible with the most recent OS.

I just talked to one of my local friends about the longevity of his computer since he is a dedicated linux user and he told that his computer lasted nearly ten years before he chose to do a massive rebuild of his desktop computer last winter.

I am slowly learning to get used to working with my current Linux OS (PopOS! from System76) in a virtual machine first (oracle virtual box) before committing to a physical computer purchase. So far, even though there is slow progress I am learning to work with a more developer oriented environment and gaining better digital skill with it.

The shocker is my dad even told me I am starting to know more about computers these days then he does, and he was an IT guy in his previous career when he was dealing with mainframe computers back in the 80’s.

I am also learning to read the documentation first if that is available and well-made, if not I have already found alternative sources such as detailed books on the open source software I need to learn (like Scribus), or even check course websites like Udemy (currently my favorite as there are great examples there for what is available).

I just haven’t settled on which open-source project to contribute to yet, as I still have prior obligations such finishing college and other professional and personal interests. I am considering donating some of my time on the weekends for working on Scribus User Manual/Documentation since that is severely lacking.

Overall, I learning to be more proactive and look for the answers myself first and finding solutions on my own before raising an issue. The really good news is that I have been able to use the command line in PopOS! to add repositories from Snapcraft/Ubuntu so I have more options than just the Software Store available with PopOS!, with that I have been able to find actively developed replacements for every immediate need so I can fully migrate any from my Apple Computer and ecosystem when I am ready to do so.

Since there isn’t commercial support I chose to be more proactive and I feel more self-sufficient digitally because I focused on choosing to learn just enough be basically proficient to install the software I need to install through the command line. I will worry about reaching an advanced user later on once all the basics are taken care of.

Pardon this long answer, but I couldn’t limit my response to a very small “sound bite”. All this is just to share that I am gradually adapting to a digital life in the open-source environment so I do not have be reliant any longer on the answers automatically being within easy reach.


I learned to program on an IBM 360 mainframe back in the 70’s. I did it the old fashioned way, punching cards. I might have even punched a paper tape or two. :laughing:


Likewise. Somehow I missed out on the “joy” of paper tape.