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Our experience launching a paid, proprietary product on Linux (hiri.com)
450 points by kevkav 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 382 comments

The big thing I see missing from all this analysis is the home vs. work distinction. You have people saying "Linux users choose FLOSS because of philosophy, and proprietary software goes against this", you have users saying "I'd have tried it if it were FLOSS and I could just download it and try it", etc., but the problem is: this is a product for working with an Exchange server. How many individual users have a need for this?

This is a product for businesses. The dynamics are different: businesses can easily be convinced to pay for software, since they do so already. If it solves a business need, this is an easy sell.

The way to make money with Linux software has always been to focus on the business market, because you're just not going to get any significant number of home Linux users or enthusiasts to pay for your software. And then, ignore the home/enthusiast users. No, I wouldn't pay for an email client either, but I don't need to connect to a Microsoft Exchange server at home. If my workplace were trying to switch to Linux, however, I'd readily recommend such a product to management.

Hi there, I'm the author of the blog post. Some context you may find interesting, and maybe I should do a follow up post about this.

We were very enterprise focused, but it just didn't work. We were trying to displace MS Outlook. And unfortunately, most people want to stick with Outlook. Not because it's better, but because it's what they know. We found that even if we convinced 8 out of 10 people in a company to buy Hiri, it wasn't enough. IT departments don't want to support more than one email client. 100% adoption is simply not an option.

So we pivoted to the current model. A bottom up strategy that has made the company viable. I would say about 50% of our customers are paying with the department credit card, and the other 50% buy it using their personal card.

Another interesting find - the growth stage of any given company has a role to play too. Younger companies (both the age of the company and the age of the staff) seem to be more open to trying new software. I guess they don't bring any legacy issues to the table. The problem is that a lot of these young companies choose Gmail. This is why we have chosen to support Gmail.

The decision to choose a "mail client" (really a "groupware system") is a complex process in most cases. MS Office is the default because it does everything, and it works on the top two platforms. Google is sort of competing in this space, but it's nowhere near MS's feature set, customer/business service, and compatibility.

The people buying your product are not integrating it into their business case because your product can't compete, it can only fill a niche. In this sense you should definitely find niches, such as users willing to pay money to have a working client on Linux. But this can be a dangerous game. If, for example, Evolution suddenly stopped sucking balls at Exchange compatibility and became a half-decent mail client, you could lose your niche, and your cash flow.

If I were you, I would make your product be as different as it can be while still being compatible. One way would be tightly integrating with an OS or product. Another way would be providing custom integration that competitors don't even come close to. Another would be to provide utility functions that nobody else has. Getting to the point where people use your product not because they like it, but because they have to have it. Kind of like the iPhone. Nobody ever needed a giant glass touch screen, but once people started using it, they couldn't give it up.

Once you have that kind of core functionality, you could give away a stripped down product and ask for payment for premium features. This would net you additional users that would otherwise go to a free competitor, and be a potential entry to sales once they feel they need the extra features.

(apologies if you're already doing any/all of this)

A Linux niche I have had success selling is "privacy". The Linux crowd, especially decision makers in businesses that run Linux somewhere, are very privacy aware. It's a good differentiator. And people will pay for better privacy, especially considering the options.

Could you tell a bit more? I am currently evaluating opportunities to address the need of privacy. Maybe our offers could be complementary? I am also reachable at my user name @gmail.com.

We use Domino/Notes at work and it’s a nightmare. IT have been working for over a year to untangle it and get us over to Exchange/Outlook but from what I hear it’s been headache after headache for them.

> We were very enterprise focused, but it just didn't work.

How was that focus manifested? What is your focus now?

I ask because I would love to pay for an email client that has the single feature I most need. But the Hiri website only lets me know that the software:

* Helps me conquer my inbox. How? I have no idea.

* Removes unnecessary clutter from my inbox. I actually don't want anything removed from my inbox.

* Accesses Office 365 and Exchange calendars, and a bunch of other Active Directory integration features. I already have that with Lightning.

I'm currently using Thunderbird with an extension that provides the feature that I need, and I've donated to both the Mozilla foundation and the developer of said extension. What unique features does Hiri provide that Thunderbird does not? What can I do with Hiri that I cannot do with Thunderbird and Lightning?

Lastly, why is it $120? I'll pay $10 without a second thought. I'll pay $20-$40 if it really scratches an itch. But I won't even consider $50 for an email client at all. $120 is absolutely ridiculous. I won't consider the one-year plan, nor is it even clear what is a one-year plan that includes indefinite access to updates and new features. What happens after one year?

$120 ridiculous, oh the prices we use to pay in the 80's and 70's even for basic stuff like having access to a compiler.

Pick your monthly salary, then imagine how many units of work you would need to sell to achieve the same value at what given price.

Naturally $120 means one sale equals several at $20-$40, thus easier to achieve sustainability, given the ratio of marketing and sales team efforts to effective sales.

What well-known and perfectly adequate open source competition did your compiler have in the 70's and 80's?

We're talking about a mail client here. A $120 mail client whose website mentions not a single advantage over the leading open source solution in its market.

I assume you are talking about Thunderbird? I used it professionally for two years before deciding it was much, much worse than the alternative (Outlook webmail + a gross CLI tool for other misc email). It's slow, it uses a lot of disk space for bad reasons and just generally operating on a lot of email is a massive pain.

Compared to that, I'd have difficulty believing there are many email clients out there that are actually worse. Even emacs as an email client was better (and it still wasn't great as you can imagine).

A few, for those willing to type them in from university, magazines and hobby club listings.

I guess sendmail and p̵i̵n̵e̵̵ mutt are good enough™.

We tried a few price points/models. This one is what seems to work for us. Every business is different and it's a matter of experimenting until you find what works.

Perfectly, that is the point I was kind of trying to make.

It is easier to ask for a random price, without taking the time to understand that there are a set of variables associated with production cost and keeping it sustainable.

All the best to your business.

> I would say about 50% of our customers are paying with the department credit card, and the other 50% buy it using their personal card.

Is this your way to determine if it is for business or personal use? Often in small companies and startups people use their personal credit cards for business purchases. Even in some bigger companies they do that, they just invoice it later separately.

At my old company of 200k+ people, purchases for things like software licenses or other misc tools would be paid using a card that was in the employee's name, but with the bill going to the employer. I know it's the same method with at least 3 other 150k+ companies that are in my industry. I have a feeling this would confound those results quite significantly.

We use domains more than anything. It's not the easiest thing to determine, but I'd be pretty confident in the 50/50 scenario. But I should have said that many of the people buying with their own credit card are actually purchasing for work.

Right. I mean, how many people have personal Exchange accounts?

That is true but at a lot of people do use outlook.com / hotmail.com for their personal email.

Those are effectively Exchange accounts (MS finished migrating them to Exchange last year). So Hiri works with those too.

Oh. I had no clue.

What's the advantage vs IPMI or POP?

Any business that is part Linux and part windows, exchange infrastructure, will need an exchange client for all their Linux client machines?

Assuming web based won’t cut it for those users, then it would seem Hiri is a good fit for that business?

I can’t see in what way you are competing or displacing Outlook if you are makinhg a product for Linux. The reason it’s a viable product would be 1) because there is no Linux outlook, and 2) because a business has users that have to run Linux while others run Outlook on windows, against the same Exchange infrastructure?

Linux is not our USP. In fact, we mostly sell to Windows users. We've been around for 5 years. We released Hiri for Linux a year ago.

Our USP is increased productivity. Check out the Skills Center: https://www.hiri.com/skills/

Also, we're not really trying to compete with Outlook per se. We will never match it feature for feature - not necessary or desirable.

Web does cut it apparently. Not for the users but enough for management to not expense a separate product for the entire company.

If that’s the case then the app in the article isn’t displacing Outlook but instead a tiny web based fraction of it - something that should be a lot easier.

>there is no Linux outlook

With the GH aquisition I'll be shocked if we don't see most of MS's desktop stuff, including Office, move to Electron/WebAssembly in the next few years.

Outlook is already a bloated beast. Moving it to Electron would be a disaster. I can't see it happening. Maybe a 'lite' version of outlook, but not the version enterprises use.

That guy was forced to comment on Reddit that he was joking about it.

What about linking to that instead?

Don't worry, by then we'll have more ram and faster processors and it'll run nearly as quick!

Then prepare to be shocked

1) Do you have a mailing list to let me know when you do support Gmail?

2) I notice you've chosen 7 days as the length of the free trial. Why that rather than the 21ish days it takes to form a habit?

3) For your annual subscription plan, how do you avoid the user's credit card being expired by the 4th time you try to charge it?

> This is why we have chosen to support Gmail.

Your website and this discussion suggests Hiri does not support gmail.

Which is it?

Whoops just re-read TFA, you are working on it, good luck!

Good. I know it might sound awful, but I feel relieved by the fact you're seeing strong resistance/reluctance towards a paid, proprietary product. Don't get me wrong though- I'm a pragmatist, and I'll gladly use any closed source solution if it's really the best to adapt to my needs and there's no open source solution I can't readily tweak for what I need.

When working on Linux, I find myself pining for Visual Studio at times, and for art Krita does have a hard time beating Clip Studio, but they've both earned their spot rightly.

I do think many people are like this though: they will use your software if they truly believe it's the best at what it does.

Honestly while it might sounds like I’m speaking out of my ass that’s a bad business model.

Outlook is one of the best mail clients out there, not many can disagree about that.

The Office 365 web client is nearly identical these days and it runs in the browser.

You aren’t going to out Office Microsoft that is just a fools errand.

You can maybe focus on better mail clients for the desktop but there are quite a few good ones already yes they don’t work with Exchange out of the box but with IMAP and exchange connectors many of them do.

Also by essentially building a client for Exchange you are putting your product at the mercy of Microsoft that can change their APIs and protocol on a whim and even block 3rd party clients with their EULA all together.

> Outlook is one of the best mail clients out there, not many can disagree about that.

Outlook may be a fine program for some types of office work but its MUA is one of the absolute worst mail programs in existence, surpassed only by certain webmailers and a collection of weird mobile apps handset manufacturers are probably paid serious money for shipping pre-installed on their (low-end) devices.

I have never seen a mailer being so actively destructive to email. The only times I receive mail that is more garbled and/or broken than that from Outlook users are the creepy web and mobile apps described above.

I have no idea whether all of this is the result of configuration errors on the user side. Maybe it's actually possible to configure the Exchange/Outlook combination to behave in a sane way. If so, this knowledge appears to be awfully rare among the Outlook- and Exchange-using population.

> Outlook is one of the best mail clients out there, not many can disagree about that.

> You aren’t going to out Office Microsoft that is just a fools errand.

Having used Outlook for a while, even on Windows, I'm shocked that people describe Outlook as good.

It may be the least worst, but Outlook is, being generous, a very mediocre piece of software. That's Microsoft's strategy in a nutshell: be Good Enough for a very large audience.

> Also by essentially building a client for Exchange you are putting your product at the mercy of Microsoft that can change their APIs and protocol on a whim and even block 3rd party clients with their EULA all together.

That used to be true, but they're far more constrained by their installed base these days.

> That's Microsoft's strategy in a nutshell: be Good Enough for a very large captive audience.

Outlook is wonderful when compared against the competition, specially when you are unlucky enough to use Lotus Notes as alternative.

They probably shouldn't try to compete so generally. "Better business email than outlook" is a very very difficult challenge. "Better tools to help developers who prefer Linux on the desktop function in a company committed to Microsoft" seems like a real market, but one far too small for a big company. That's the type of market that might be a great starting point for a startup.

I would say it is one of the most _feature complete_ email client, but I don't think it is a good email software. I've seen it crash too many times at the worst possible timings, and, latest updates have rendered almost unusable without patching on Mac for Exchange enterprise users (I even had to make a script to disable Outlook autodiscover on all our corporate macs because from 16.12 version and up it started trying to go to office 365 to authenticate a local exchange account...) Opensource or not, I thank every company who thinks of linux as a target where it can invest. Let's face it, proprietary software needs to be in linux too if linux can eventually gain marketshare in the client landscape, and given the state of Windows 10 and its spyware, and all the big problems with MacOS since 10.10, any help to increase linux adoption out of server and embedded platforms is welcome. I will give this a try tomorrow, using linux at work and having no choice but to use evolution to get access to Exchange I think my use case is exactly the target client:)

Office for Mac has been a shitshow for years, either use 365 online or use the windows one through parallels et al.

> Outlook is one of the best mail clients out there, not many can disagree about that.

Are we talking about the client that sent the plaintext for encrypted emails along for half a year?

Outlook was designed and built in an era were just a few emails were ever sent/received in a day. It does not cope well with the deluge of mails common to today's corporate world. I think there now is an opportunity for other players here, as Google have shown.

mattl 8 months ago [flagged]

> Unfortunately, the fundamentalist FOSS mentality we encountered on Reddit is still alive and well.

This is incredibly rude. You may not like it, but GNU/Linux was built by people for user freedom, not for proprietary email clients.

Instead of using words like “fundamentalist” please instead consider that you are doing something that is not welcomed by the creators of the operating system and a large number of the long-term users.

A little understanding would go a long way.

How is telling people what is good for them, like you just did, not fundamentalism? Almost every server and smart phone install of Linux uses proprietary software, that is clearly part of how people wants to use it. You yourself are communicating through many layers of proprietary software right now. This is exactly why people don't want to do open source. Because increasingly it isn't about culture, doing it better or making things happen. It is about telling people what to do and for people to enforce all sort of informal moral codes to protect their own position.

I’m not telling people what is good for them. I’m describing the reasons for the creation of the GNU/Linux operating system.

What proprietary software is being used on servers? I believe most Android users don’t know about user freedom, and those that do would greatly prefer a more generic, “pure” Android experience vs the poor quality applications installed by default on most non-Google phones.

You’re confusing the initial ideas that were attributed to open source — seperating the software from the campaign for user freedom — with the free software community. Open source and free software are different movements with common results. The GNU/Linux operating system was built long before open source was a thing, and those founding principles of user freedom are attacked by proprietary software.

> The GNU/Linux operating system was built long before open source was a thing.

Please find someone that worked in the field during the 70s. They hopefully will kindly re-educate you on this BS.

Also if you’re talking about the OSI of the late 90s I’d argue that gnu/Linux was not long before that. Those initiatives pretty much grew together.

I’m not talking about a community of sharing and improving software. That existed and is the reason Stallman started the free software movement and GNU.

I’m talking about the creation of the Open Source Initiative in 1998 and their initial distancing of software freedom from any practical benefits of the software created by the free software movement.

If you consider "fundamentalist" a rude adjective to descibe the said behaviour, what would be a better adjective then?

I don't have anything against that kind of attitude, it's great and I approve those guys though I myself also like to buy software. "Fundamentalism" IMO describes it pretty well and I don't see the negative connotation.

"fundamentalist" is used as a slur by some people (c.f. https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Fundamentali...). The slur assumes things that don't exist in the word itself, so it's not obvious the word incorporates them.

I think the difference between the slurred fundamentalist (connoting a terrorist-like figure) and a tech fundamentalist is objectively clear.

Fundamentalism implies a religion-like devotion to your principles, it's definitely pejorative used outside of this context. FLOSS is not a religion.

From https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fundamentalism :

> The tendency to reduce a religion to its most fundamental tenets, based on strict interpretation of core texts.

Using such a strong word to define your adversary's position is a way to discredit them.

Perhaps "purist" is a better word here?

I think the original usage was fine, it just doesn't mean what some are trying to add on.

"principled"? I really try to avoid closed source proprietary software as much as possible both for ideological reasons but also because it's a pain in the ass if you like to hack your OS, you need to step around it all the time.

I can understand thinking it's a "fundamentalist" mindset if you're used to Windows or Mac and software being proprietary by default but if you're a un*x poweruser who doesn't hesitate to hack the source code of the software to customize it it's a very pragmatical approach I think.

> If you consider "fundamentalist" a rude adjective

How about no adjective?

> Linux was built by people for user freedom

> not welcomed by the creators of the operating system

No, it wasn't. Linux was created because Linus Torvalds was in love with the OS running on the VAX at his university and wanted something just like it that he can run on his desktop at home.

> you are doing something that is not welcomed by the creators of the operating system

The DFSG and the OSD both prohibit discriminating against fields of endeavor, so the ability to run proprietary software on open-source operating systems is essential to the OS actually being open-source.

Linux is a kernel. GNU is an operating system, and so GNU/Linux is what most people are actually using.

The DFSG and OSD are criteria for evaluating free and open source software and more specifically their licensing terms. The discrimination against fields of endeavor means you can’t make a license that says “the government can’t use my software” or “no military use” and call it free software or open source software. It has absolutely nothing to do with being able to run non-free software.

My field of endeavor involves running non-free software. So which is it? Is it non-discrimatory or am I doing something against the creators wishes?

Your field of endeavor has nothing to do with a free software license. A piece of free software cannot say nobody using proprietary software cannot use it, however proprietary software is against the wishes of the original developers of what is best described as GNU/Linux.

I welcome it

It's just impractical to have high quality software for every niche be built by the FOSS community. Even non-niche products (like, let's say email) leave a lot to be desired

If I could pay companies for these products I would. But I don't because they don't make products for Linux because they think we only want FOSS programs

Also, yes the creators probably don't condone proprietary software but who cares. They're not the market. The users of the OS are the market. And I want high quality software, free or not, source be dammed!

> Also, yes the creators probably don't condone proprietary software but who cares.

Linus Torvalds was pretty widely quoted as saying If Microsoft ever does applications for Linux it means I've won. I'm pretty sure he was being sincere. The guy has praised PowerPoint, of all things.

The GNU fundamentalists are a noisy minority. That's not intended as a commentary on their usefulness or the correctness of their position, it's just a statement of fact.

There’s no reason free software can’t be paid for either.

I agree that not every type of software will be built by community efforts alone, which is why many companies are contributing to free software.

Out of interest, what free software would you like to see?

Oh man where do I begin?

So I can't confidently say I've tried it all but when I booted up Ubuntu within the last year it was hard to find...

    - simple email client with good html template support and conversation threading (thunderbird was meh)
    - simple pdf viewer
    - pdf editor
    - an oscilliscope app that works with those usb oscilliscopes
    - image editor (gimp is a slow nightmare to use)
    - Microsoft Office suite replacement (Open/Libre Office is also a UI nightmare)
    - A diagram app ala draw.io (Admittedly I haven't looked too hard for this one)
    - Music library organizer (Also didn't look too hard)
I guess now would also be a good time to mention apps that are great

    - Desktops shells (Gnome/KDE/Xfce)
    - VLC 
    - Firefox/Chrome
    - Package managers
    - Music players (generally bearable)

> fundamentalist

> relating to or advocating the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.

I think it's fair to say that the gospel of saint ignucius is interpreted strictly in some circles.

The fact that this comment was flagged is deeply troubling to me.

This isn't rude at all. He was describing a situation in the Linux community where a large number of users have an aversion to paid software.

It's a real problem and one of the main reason osx was able to eclipse desktop software usage on linux in such a short amount of time.

Responses like yours are the real problem.

If you want linux desktop software to grow, there needs to be room for proprietary software.

Also, please don’t conflate paid software with proprietary software. You can pay for either, but only proprietary software is the issue.

A company can't survive on paid oss (gnu/gpl). The license allows anyone to purchase it and then go ahead and give it out for free, which would happen in short order.

Support doesn't work for many small companies, because you just don't have the manpower, so proprietary software is necessary.

I don’t think a business would actually do that, if they purchased something they would likely not put it up on GitHub immediately, but I think the key to selling free software is customization. Red Hat makes a good deal of money from free software, but as you say, much of that is from support.

It's almost like 2.9 billion dollars of annual revenue incentivises RedHat to make worse software, to encourage people to buy support.

Hah, what am I saying, ignoring incentives like that is easy and commonplace, I'm sure they pay it no mind at all.

Also, many "small" programs don't require support because they are very simple to use.

You can probably make money by selling Windows binaries of OSS software. See ntopng, where compiling on Windows is not that straight forward as compared to Linux.

Most companies don't survive on selling software anymore either. Look at Adobe. You can't buy their products, you just rent them.

That and the giant clusterfuck that the Linux desktop is. Gnome 3 has no desktop icons anymore per default, not even minimize, maximize buttons. It does not end there.

A major hassle is that sometimes the GUI is showing something different then what is configured. Especially in networking. I configure an IP address, I want it to show in the GUI. I don't care if it's configured via the shell.

>He was describing a situation in the Linux community where a large number of users have an aversion to paid software.

So "having an aversion" means that you're a fundamentalism? That's a bit extreme, no?

>If you want linux desktop software to grow, there needs to be room for proprietary software.

Judging by how I feel more miserable and less in control every year with the dumbification of the Linux desktop I genuinely don't want that. People keep adding abstraction layers in order to lure the mythical "average joe" to Linux, except that he doesn't care anyway so I'm the one who ends up having to deal with that bloat that doesn't offer anything to me. I'd use FreeBSD instead of Linux if I could because I prefer the way it works but I can't because of... proprietary drivers that are not available on the BSDs.

If people like to eat crap that's their problem, I don't see why I should force my self to get a taste for it just so that we can eat at the same table.

mattl 8 months ago [flagged]

I don’t want “Linux desktop software” to grow. I want computer users to have zero-proprietary software.

The problem with thinking of GNU/Linux in the same way as Windows and Mac OS X is that it assumes a world where proprietary software is the norm, or is okay. I believe that is isn’t okay, and that it is harmful.

Harmful is wanting to be paid for their work while expecting others to give their work for free.

It is plain impossible to live from selling desktop software with source code available, without having others in the first week come around and re-bundle it, Sourceforge style.

Most of the GNU/Linux desktop stuff is GNOME, and a lot of GNOME developers work at Red Hat, but not exclusively. If you want to work on free software desktop applications, I would consider working at a company like that.

A lot of desktop software is commodity stuff — mail clients, office suites, browsers, photo editing and the like. But there are some areas where we need to be better, such as video editing.

I gave up on that dream long time ago, I rather have paying customers.

This is essentially a byproduct of Red Hat selling stuff. Just take Filezilla, people don't donate, so the author used some shady stuff. Or look at gnupg.

Yes, it's pretty terrible if consenting adults choose to pay for software, isn't it?

I love FOSS, but people like you (yes, "fundamentalists") can't deal with the idea that some forms of software are probably better as paid transactions between well-informed parties. The laughable state of open source office suites and any serious competitor to most of Adobe's products suggests that this model has its limits.

> Yes, it's pretty terrible if consenting adults choose to pay for software, isn't it?

The thing I zero in on here is that I have literally zero problems paying for software. But I am wary of purchasing software that I don't get the rights to build, modify, and contribute to.

My worry with software like this is that vendors come and go, and people get their workflows destroyed because the software can't be "saved" when the business is gone (yes, when, not if! always plan for that "exit" that ruins people because the products are gone).

Would I prefer the software to be FOSS? Absolutely. I am also absolutely willing to pay for FOSS, and a good number of Linux users are too.

I'm even willing to take open-core style models if it means there's some FOSS code release, as much as I don't like the model.

I use a mixture of FOSS and proprietary software all the time, not because I want to, but because I _must_.

And in my workplace, FOSS solutions (even ones we pay for) are infinitely preferred over proprietary ones. Desktop Linux support is a must, as well.

Agreed on most of these points. But I've been on both sides of this transaction, on both sides of the proprietary/FOSS fence (to oversimplify and abstract the difference between Free and Open Source). From experience it is hard to get people to pay for FOSS; my hat is off to those who can manage it.

I do think that vendors should have to put things into some form of shared-source or open-source escrow (possibly shared as they might not have IP rights to open source everything they've done) with a kind of 'dead mans switch' arrangement (i.e. you walk away without updating or responding to bug fix requests, you trigger escrow).

I'm perennially concerned that the fundamentalist attitude to proprietary software is suppressing innovation in some areas: especially complex desktop software where there is (a) a heavy requirement for the kind of tedious UI work that FOSS projects clearly don't bother to do and (b) where most or all of the product is "right there in the code" (i.e. once you have Photoshop, you can go to town and edit stuff, and you're not really all that dependent on having access to some other product or service which can be monetized).

The attitude reaches its most extreme in software tools. Best expressed by Andy Gocke with his great tweet: https://twitter.com/andygocke/status/1017509689695715328

'Developer tools seemed like a good industry to be in, "sell shovels in the gold rush" and all, but it turns out developers prefer to dig for gold with their teeth.'

You assume I’m for open source. That’s the problem.

This isn't really germane to any point I made, but I presume this is the standard point in the discussion where you lob this particular bombshell ("I did so NOT see it coming that the guy who writes 'GNU/Linux' everywhere is a Free Software purist").

Whatever I wrote about the limits of "FOSS" software can be multiplied by a solid order of magnitude for "free only".

oh, the consenting adults argument, my ass. As if there aren't enough things consenting adults are banned from choosing like drugs or gambling. Some proprietary crap can be compared to both.

Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to Hacker News?

I don't think you have to be a foaming-at-the-mouth legalize everything libertarian to possibly accept the scandalous idea of someone, say, buying a closed-source office suite for money, but thanks for your input!

Good luck to that, reality doesn't seem to agree with you. The future seems firmly in the camp of a mix of FOSS with proprietary.

The most popular OSes are proprietary:

* Android (almost useless without the Google stuff, plus 99% of Android apps are unfortunately proprietary)

* Windows

* MacOS (I know about Darwin, everyone uses MacOS for the proprietary integration bits)

> Android (almost useless without the Google stuff, plus 99% of Android apps are unfortunately proprietary)

An open source GMS implementation exists, and might gain traction with the recent Android/Google antitrust lawsuit in EU. Have you tried LOS + microG recently? Have you seen the utter garbage frolicking around on Play Store? Quality, not quantity. At least with F-Droid, you know what you're getting. Same with Aurora, as it has Exodus support.

I feel similarly but not quite 100%.

For the core things the basic, inter-operable, standard should be fully open and free. This includes protocols, data formats, reference applications/servers/clients and anything similar.

A user should not need to pay to communicate. This is a natural right and one of the cornerstones of a free society.

However I don't mind proprietary products as OPTIONS that allow someone to do the above better or more effectively (while still following open standards for external APIs!), or for 'toy' tasks like games or fun. That's a premium feature or recreational extra.

For the logical retort about who should be funding the development and maintenance of the core items? In some cases (hardware APIs) manufacturers might want to form standards bodies (E.G. Khronos maintains OpenGL and Vulkan) and provide open standards. In other (most) cases governments maintaining civil infrastructure should contribute. I would love if every university had a course where existing code repos were examined by students for completeness and safety and the students actually signed off on their reviews and maybe even submitted patches (or at least bugs if the answer isn't obvious/requires architectural changes) for flaws.

I think combining it with some sort of code escrow could work. Keep it secret while you support it, if you go bust or stop support the source enters public domain.

So who do you expect to write all of this non proprietary software without any means of making money?

The same people who have been writing it in the past. And who said there are no means of making money? You're just assuming something which isn't true just because you can't come up with an explanation.

Who are those people? Most are paid or sponsored by corporations.

Well just let them continue to do so, then?

So either open source developers have to work for and enrich corporations or work on the side for free?

Why should software development be any different than any other profession where people get paid for their work?

Yep, totally agree with you there.

After reading the article that was my first thought when he mentioned adding support for Google IMAP.

Full stop. Don't do it. You have a product that is doing well as the solution for something with a clear business case that's not well addressed elsewhere. Own that market and focus your development attention on that Exchange ecosystem.

As soon as you branch to IMAP/Gmail/General purpose you're going to be in the sea of tons of other email clients, most of which are free. It's going to dilute the value proposition for Hiri because Hiri is going to become "another email client" that also supports exchange. The taste for email clients that add exchange support is not generally a good experience. It also means that you have to ensure all of your UI elements work equally with both, bringing you to more of a lowest-common-denominator experience.

When I see Linux Exchange Email Client and that's all you do, I see specialty software that I can rely on to solve that problem correctly. When I worked at a company that used Exchange, I would have bought it IMMEDIATELY and convinced my boss to reimburse me later.

As soon as you become a general purpose email client, everything about what you offer to solve that problem starts getting lost in the shuffle.

This would sound like wisdom, except that all of the other email clients for Linux are garbage.

I bought Mailbird because it looked amazing and had the feature set I wanted. It has done its job extremely well, and I'm very happy with it. But it doesn't have a Linux client; it's only for Windows.

I have six active email addresses spread across multiple providers - Office365, Exchange, Gmail, GSuite, and Zoho. I need a central place to read it all.

I've seen Hiri mentioned before, but dismissed it because it doesn't support Google/IMAP. Once it adds that support, it has my attention, and potentially my dollars.

That is exactly the reason for Gmail support.

It's not moving focus away from Linux/Office365 but it accommodates people that want to have their Gmail accounts in the same client as their Office 365 / Exchange accounts.

I'm a consultant. My clients often use Outlook/Exchange. My consulting company uses Google Apps. I also tend to create a per-client GMail persona, so that I can work around issues with corporate Exchange servers (aggressive content filtering, misguided attachment quarantines, or just to keep work-related-but-social stuff out of the corporate inbox), and have a convenient OAuth login option. I would welcome anything that allows me to use a single client.

Another reason for wanting a client that works with Exchange and Google is simply wanting to use the same app both at work and at home, even if you never cross the streams and access them both from the same instance.

And as others have mentioned, Linux email clients suck. I'm a huge proponent of open-source software, and prefer free clients wherever possible. No one has made a free email client that I can tolerate. They're so bad that I tend to stick to web clients. Hiri's client reminds me of Polymail on MacOS, which is the only non-game, non-cloud application I've paid for in the past decade.

The prime use case there would seem to be intermingling your work and personal email.

That doesn't seem like a great idea, on many levels.

Yup, from a personal perspective I agree. I don't like to cross the streams either but a lot of people do.

Keep in mind that Google IMAP could mean Google Apps compatibility. And a good number of orgs use Google Apps.

Oh I know, there's just so many existing IMAP clients that I can't imagine paying for a desktop email/calendar client to work with Google Apps. Not to mention all the web based bits like Google Inbox, etc.

The value proposition just isn't there with all of the free options already out there.

....not on linux there aren’t.

Doesn’t Google Apps support MS Exchange on the server? The paid one, that is? I remember there was a lot of hue and cry over Google dropping MS Exchange option for free Gmail around the same time when Windows Phone 8 launched. But at the same time, Google said they would continue to offer Exchange for paid accounts. Has that changed?

It supports ActiveSync, to my knowledge.

Isn't that also a matter of how you word / market it? If its marketed as an Exchange client also able to do IMAP/Gmail that's something different than an email client with IMAP/Gmail support oh and it has an Exchange plugin.

There's only a handful of Exchange clients for *NIX though, that I agree with.

An email client without IMAP support is not going to get much traction. No one wants to have multiple email clients open at the same time.

> An email client without IMAP support is not going to get much traction. No one wants to have multiple email clients open at the same time.

I don’t understand the link between your second sentence and the first one. How not having IMAP support forces you to have multiple email clients open at the same time?

At work I switched from Outlook 2013 to Thunderbird, we only have linux mail servers although we run Windows on clients, but I needed to access an Exchange email. I solved it by installing Davmail locally, which translates exchange commands in IMAP commands. Otherwise I would have been forced to use Outlook only for that exchange mailbox.

That, and the fact that people who would subscribe to /r/linux may be more ideological. I use Linux because I want a decent OS that doesn't spy on me. I've had no qualms with buying dozens of Linux games off Steam so far.

Yeah, it’s a very self selecting crowd.

About 95% of the work that I do is on Linux. But I run a Windows laptop. Why? Because of the Outlook Calendar. It's kind of amazing that so many tech companies run on Linux, but the Outlook Calendar just won't go away.

Nearly everything else in Windows I can replicate in Linux; Excel Spreadsheets, Microsoft Word, they all have Linux equivalents. But Calendar? Nope.

I've seen solutions online, and I tried them, but none of them worked seamlessly. In particular, there's a plugin for Thunderbird. But it wouldn't connect with Office 365's calendar. (Email worked perfectly fine.)

Is there mail client integration now, too?

That was the big missing link the last time I tried them... the inability to accept and/or reply on meeting invites and handle both the email and the calendar part. I was always able to view my calendar from linux, and could even edit/update personal calendar events, but I always had to fall back to windows or web to handle meeting invites. Pretty much everyone who uses O365 calendar is going to be using emailed invites and they need to work to make this a solution, but I never saw much traction on addressing that issue.

Only works if your Exchange exposes the web interface.

That's a very good point. This tool is purely focused at people who use Linux at work, the dynamics are very different. The article should probably mention something about that.

I do. I work with Linux and on my company we use exchange..

A part for that I pay for: - Skype credit - gitkraken (thanks electron!)

And i would pay and pay and pay for a design software like sketch.. I have a lot of hope on figma.. Let see..

I'm a developer on Linux who wants to migrate into design. I want sketch on Linux so bad :-(

I realize though I probably need to Shell out for a Mac though. (Besides for a few brief moments in middle school, I have never used iOS believe it or not)

Sorry, forgot to mention sublime!

I completely agree. There are very few paid software for which we don't already have a FLOSS software that can compete with it. Linux users are normally good at finding FLOSS alternatives to paid softwares.

Another thing that author can do is to compare Linux home users sales results with Windows home users for any of their product that is available for both platforms. Sales would be similar as long as Linux and Windows software marketplace for that area is same.

I tried and failed to find a quality git gui for linux, (coming from SourceTree on OSX). I tried a number and they either had awful UI, lacked functionality, or were too buggy.

In the end I ended up paying for a license to GitKraken and am quite happy.

basically using a gui for git is not a good practice. most stuff is cluttered together and hard to find. even in sourcetree, stuff that is important is just not good. (I used sourcetree heavily in the past) I moved on from graphical git clients and I'm now way more happy and more productive on the cli. the only thing which I would miss on linux is a graphical merge tool, that is as good as kaleidoscope even on windows it's hard to find an equally well tool for the same price (there are good ones, but are way pricier)

I use both gui and command line. Which one varies depending on the task. Quickly checking the working directory state and committing a couple of changes is much easier for me in a GUI. Complicated resets, checkouts, rebases and queries are much easier with the command line.

Edit: I find using a GUI to view the state of a git repo reduces the amount of mental space and energy I need to devote to this information.

"basically using a gui for git is not a good practice. "

That is absolutely silly and completely false. I use SourceTree every day and have no issues whatsoever. I'm just as productive as anyone on the CLI, as 95% of actions are the basic pull/commit/push type stuff.

The one thing I miss on linux is a good mail client.

Currently using Mailspring, but honestly the paid mail clients for OSX leave anything on Linux in the dust. Airmail is my personal favorite and it's $9.99.. a couple of cups of coffee for a great experience in an area that touches your life a dozen times a day? Absolutely I'd pay for a GOOD mail client on Linux.

In that case, why does it need to be closed-source? If a business is paying for something like this, they probably would rather pay for a support contract than hire a guy to try and keep it running.

>you're just not going to get any significant number of home Linux users or enthusiasts to pay for your software.

More like no significant number of home users are using Exchange.

If every software that runs on Windows ran on Linux without restrictions, that would be the end of Windows right now and it's exactly what Microsoft are currently preparing for.

They are shifting profits from Windows licenses to the app store and user data/ads to compete with free operating systems and they're trying hard to appeal to Linux users.

"If every software that runs on Windows ran on Linux without restrictions"

Except to many of those users, "Paying for a license to software" is seen as a restriction.

Quite a neat insight and somewhat confirming what I think personally; Linux users largely don't use Linux for FLOSS reasons. People who do use Linux for FLOSS reasons are however rather loud.

I would probably not be wrong when saying that most Linux users will happily pay a developer for the binary of an application if the dev is "doing it right". Doing it right largely involves "don't treat the customer as a walking wallet" and "don't fuck over the customer".

Most people would probably happily give you cash for that but I suspect Windows people and especially Mac people are more used to paying cash to get software ... sort of and then being treated like a walking wallet. Example: Anti-Virus vendors and Adobe.

I tend to disagree.

You may see GNU folks as crackpots, but in many aspects they are right, for business reasons.

I have an increasingly hard time to admit in my core stack anything that is not open-source (even if not free-as-in-freedom). Commercial offerings come and go, change their terms, etc. They can do something that goes contrary to my interests, and I have no recourse, and nobody has.

This is on the top of problems while troubleshooting. Being able to look at the source, understand what's happening, and maybe even quickly patch it is indispensable when running a production system, and suddenly encountering a problem.

That is, I don't use open-source programs because they don't cost money. E.g. I've donated more to Mozilla than many commercial products cost. I happily install paid versions of open-source apps on Android, as a way to pay the developers. I won't mind to buy paid support for open-source products.

But the openness is very important for something that is not a quick fix for a temporary problem.

Being able to look at the source and troubleshoot it is not mutually exclusive to a product being proprietary (ie, source available would give you this).

There is also plenty of business I know that do everything in their power to ensure that if they go away the customer isn't left helpless (this is very popular in some parts of industrial engineering where it's common sense to hand over the blue print along with a service contract).

It's just very popular for software vendors to behave without care for the user but it's not the only business model and I think that's a common mistake of some people (ie, believing that FLOSS and proprietary is a binary property that will automatically mean certain things like you mentioned).

Sure, if you're a big enough customer, you can have access to (relevant parts of) source code, and various forms of preferential treatment. I've seen his firsthand. This is the norm with big vendors that are on the market for many decades, and not going anywhere (e.g. Microsoft).

If you are a smaller fish, you have fewer of these options, because they just cost money.

Of course it's often cost-effective to quickly start using a piece of commercial software or SaaS, e.g. Slack or Gmail, as opposed to hosting your own chat or email with opensource solutions. As with any software where you put your important data, you need to know your way out, and a way to transfer these data to different software / SaaS. With email, it's reasonably easy; don't know about Slack. With open-source solutions it's usually reasonably easy, too, and it's easier to find, or at least to produce, a migration tool.

In some cases, there's just no free alternative; e.g. if you are writing a PC game, you can't realistically stay away from Windows.

As I mentioned, this isn't about existing vendors but potential business models (or rather, rare business models since I do know vendors that do this even with very small hobbyist users).

As one of the "Linux for FLOSS" users--and, yes, quite loud about it--I am inclined to agree.

I would pay good money for a high quality application on Linux. But in large part, one of the less-philosophical, more-practical things that I value about FLOSS is the opportunity to fix things if something doesn't work right. While I would gladly purchase an incredible, closed source application, I would much more value the distribution of the source code (with a workable build chain) along with that purchase.

In that manner, I KNOW I'm not just a buck in their wallet. It protects my purchase, to some degree, and demonstrates a good faith relationship with the developer. Even if I'm not allowed to distribute the code, and much prefer FLOSS, the right to maintain my purchase is incredibly important to me.

Of course, that's almost never an option, but to my mind, that would be a fair compromise...

~A Loud FLOSS Supporter

I've always thought that this is the key to bridging the gap between proprietary and OSS, and it's what we do with our software. In our case, the source code does cost extra, but that's because we're selling developer libraries and we typically need to provide extra support to customers that purchase the source code because they are also (typically) customizing the source code in some way.

I really like how Epic is handling Unreal Engine 4. The source is available, and the standard license is revenue share. It's not necessarily open source, but it reaped so many benefits from public contributions. You can modify it and extend it for your own use. The revenue share means they are actively interested in your success.

Of course video games are highly public consumer products. So you can't actually abuse their model because if your game is successful it will be well known.

I think you may be on to something here. For smaller companies like us that are in niche markets, the source code being available isn't a big deal because the level of piracy is fairly low (and you don't get support).

For larger companies in larger markets, it's much, much easier to see when someone is abusing a license or pirating the software without paying.

> I would much more value the distribution of the source code along with that purchase.

Everyone would until they realize how exceptionally hard and draining it is for a vendor to deal with blatant rip-offs and trivial repackaging of said source code, sold under a different name for a fraction of the price by some random outlet in China.

That would be another options, yes, though I don't think I've seen many employ source-available while also giving access to a working build chain/script.

> I would probably not be wrong when saying that most Linux users will happily pay a developer for the binary of an application if the dev is "doing it right".

Hm, this reminds me of the Caddy, the HTTP server with Let's Encrypt integration. It's still open source, but a while ago they made the binaries paid (if you want it for free you need to compile it yourself). They got a lot hate for that; people were even accusing them of having become closed source.

I stopped used Caddy on that event. It wasn't purely for the binary, the server also has a number of issues when mainly used as a proxy and a number of other problems for more advanced use cases.

I think the problem really is, atleast what I thought, was that the binary wasn't something I'd pay for. I could trivially compile it myself. Additionally the price was IIRC quite high for some hobbyists like myself. Plus putting advertisements in the header (or was that a separate event?)

If it had been a 10$/a license for the binary I would likely have done that but at the time it seemed cheaper to just switch to nginx.

Also keep in mind the different audience. There is server admins and developers. When I wear my server admin hat and license software, that is usually because there is no or not comparable free alternatives that I couldn't setup myself in a few hours of work. When I wear my developer hat I'm lazy and I will pay for software to save a few minutes of work if it's good enough.

Of course, I don't agree with the people who said it had become closed source, that is silly.

And then when Let's Encrypt's certificate renewal server was down for a few hours, Caddy wasn't able to start because it required to establish a connection with LE to check the certificate and it wasn't able to determine that there was an old, still valid cert available on disk. The bug tracker on Github went wild because people were unable to bring their websites back up but the author was unwilling to acknowledge it as a bug and kept closing the issues. [1]

That was when Caddy lost all its reputation for me.

1: https://github.com/mholt/caddy/issues/1680

I am not on any side in this battle, but the issue was closed only once, and after users disagreed with the author's reasoning for why it behaved the way it did, the author fixed it the same day it was closed...

Doesn't seem as bad as you are portraying it... certainly not "lost all its reputation for [you]" bad?

I think the Caddy mess had a bunch of factors complicating it, and isn't a good comparison. E.g. they promoted themselves as an easy and powerful solution for people that aren't really sysadmin/server types, and then hurt that exact demographic by from one day to the other requiring them to either pay a not-insignificant amount of money or learn how to compile a product they choose because it's really easy themselves. People really don't like bait-and-switch.

I cannot see someone trying to get paid for their work as a "bait and switch".

Then see it only as "surprising and major change, negating the previous unique selling point, makes people unhappy".

I can't really see it as that, either. The source is still open, it's free to check out and compile.

> free to check out and compile

Which isn't a problem for you and me, but is for the kind of person that was attracted to it because it's easier than nginx+certbot, as I said in my initial comment. I saw 2 major users of it: this kind of user, and people wanting a small simple thing to stick in their container-based setup for HTTPS/reverse proxy duties. The latter more or less automatically updated to container images that do the build instead of loading a binary and didn't have a problem with even having to consider paying. For the first it was a problem, especially since the cost wasn't really in the ballpark of "I'd happily pay that to host a small blog".

I started using Linux for FLOSS reasons about 15 years ago, but now that I'm older and mostly just care about my computer working the way I want it, without bugs and distractions, I have really shifted away from my old free software opinions.

I still use Debian Linux for my home computers. My wife even uses a XPS Developer edition. I would like to switch to Windows 10 for the battery life upgrade, but I find that Windows is slow and has a lot of distractions (eye candy and advertisements) compared to my Linux computers. The virtual desktop management isn't as convenient as it is on Linux (Mate desktop). Emacs, Git, Elfeed, and a lot of the other Emacs-related features/plug-ins I like to use everyday are also dog-slow on Windows, which is the real deal-breaker for me.

I use it partly for FLOSS reasons. But I'm not an absolutist. I still pay for JetBrains IDEs, and I pay for Mailspring (https://getmailspring.com/), among others.

FLOSS is also arguably more important in some software. OS is most important. Technically IDEs are very important too, but there just isn't an open source alternative for JetBrains IDEs. And they definitely deserve the money.

In principle I'd happily pay for a good application. But not being able to use my normal package manager to install it and keep it up to date would already be imposing a significant cost.

That's not totally unsolvable. Flatpak leaves this kind of stuff open so you could implement a storefront in flatpak.

PPA's on Ubuntu would do to but other distros are less equipped to deal with it, in that case an AppImage might be better.

Every year end when I do my charitable donations I go through the applications I’ve been using and donate 10-20$.

It’s not a ton but it’s something. Libre office/Mozilla/ eclipse foundation/ sequel pro/ aqua emacs...

I think they do even if they don't know it. After all, GNU/Linux is the way it is because it is FLOSS. You might just as well say people don't use cars because of the wheels.

I think this piece (along with many, many others in the genre) is unduly discounting the practical implications of a proprietary binary for users, preferring to blame a preference for open source solely on a "fundamentalist FOSS mentality". For example, my next GPU is going to be a Radeon largely because I'm tired of the weird issues that come with installing/updating proprietary drivers, the lack of transparency around bug reports, and the general disconnects with the rest of the FOSS ecosystem.

The specific issues for applications are different, but there are parallels. The key thing is that FOSS on Linux isn't just an ideology, it's also an ecosystem and a set of norms and practices. When you ship a proprietary product, users have to weigh the cost of opting out of all of that, not just the sticker price. Nobody with any sense would ship a Windows package solely as source code and expect Windows users to love it. I can't imagine anyone blaming a weak reception of such a product on a "fundamentalist proprietary blob mentality". But when they similarly sidestep standard practices on Linux, any friction is almost reflexively attributed to the users being unreasonable.

The intention of the article was in no an attack on the "FOSS mentality".

FOSS is a reality and is a great thing!

The point that was being made, was that promoting paid linux applications is a challenge. And that that challenge becomes more difficult because we need to operate in an environment where many of the biggest publications do not want to know anything about non-FOSS apps.

You did right by your customers, you made a solid product and you’re not hurting anyone with your business.

Better just to ignore the religious radicals sneering on the sidelines.

Then why kick a hornets nests?

As others have noted Linux for home and Linux for work are two completely different things.

At work I use RHEL 7, packages 5 years out of date, don't have access to build tools to incorporate patches myself and a million and one other things I would never tolerate at home. Throwing some more money after a program that lets me not touch outlook sounds like a great idea.

At home I do none of the above things I can't think of a reason why I would ever touch a binary blob.

There are plenty of people who feel the same. Don't come into a hobbyist environment selling corporate solutions expecting a warm welcome. Instead of /r/linux go to /r/sysadmin or some such.

What? Do you see no use for proprietary software at a home linux setup? What about video games? Do you expect all video games on linux to be open source?

I'm pretty close to being completely free of proprietary software at home.

I have to use the proprietary bootloader for my newer machines and the wifi firmware the machines I haven't gotten around to replacing the wifi cards for yet.

About half of my machines are on coreboot and atheros cards.

Otherwise my user space is pure free software.

For games I play open source ones like 0ad when I have the time, which isn't often.

I am glad Steam works in Linux and something that useful was not blocked by the likes of you.

I think that having an open-source OS and whatever-source applications is having the best of both worlds.

Let me repeat that: the base system should be open, including all drivers, to level the playing field, but we also should be able to choose any solution in an open market, again, to get the best technology possible for us.

In other words, if I want to use some proprietary software, like I use Sublime Text, it does not affect you, and I don't think you can decide or limit in any way the software I can use.

> I am glad Steam works in Linux and something that useful was not blocked by the likes of you.

It would be silly for me to try to block Steam on Linux, since I'm a Steam user.

> In other words, if I want to use some proprietary software, like I use Sublime Text, it does not affect you, and I don't think you can decide or limit in any way the software I can use.

What makes you think I want to? This is exactly the kind of assumption that annoyed me in the otherwise reasonable article. My point was that it's important to appreciate the factors that drive user preferences and not just write off a negative response as ideology-driven.

I am increasingly happy to pay for software and services as long as the organization producing the software has no relationship with advertisers. I would rather pay money than use something for free that includes advertising. If there are good open-source alternatives I will always prefer those, but there are definitely some things that open-source will never be able to really make work effectively (notably anything that relies on having an attractive and efficient GUI)

What happens when the product becomes unsupported, or the company goes under? I'd like to see more software sold with a code escrow clause -- if development stops or the company no longer offers support, the source is released by a third party. Maybe even under an open license.

If sublime text were to end all support today, I would have gotten triple-digit returns on that 75$ investment. Same for most software. Don’t get me wrong, unsupported paid software sucks and open sourcing abandoned projects means I would be more likely to buy something from that person/company again, but on some level a market clearing price takes this risk into account if we’re just talking about consumer applications.

It certainly depends on the software, too. Some things are more fragile than others, for one thing. Perhaps more importantly, some software is harder to migrate away from, e.g. if it has a database, especially some custom file format.

Out of interest, what linux apps have you paid for?

I've paid for RubyMine, and PHP Storm. Not exclusively Linux, but that was the platform I was running it on.

Not OP, but: I have sunk a few hundred bucks into Steam after it added Linux support. I had a Steam account before that, but I never purchased anything that cost money.

Intellij IDEA, also Steam or GOG games

As with others here, various JetBrains tools and Linux-compatible Steam games (I have 75 and counting). Also a file comparison tool called Beyond Compare.

If Adobe released their apps on Linux (more specifically Photoshop and Premiere) I'd buy them in a heartbeat. Unfortunately they seem more interested in supporting the iPad if recent news is to be believed.

Edit: Just remembered I have a Sublime Text license too, although I stopped using it a while ago.

A couple of months of Intellij because a customer wanted me to work on a Java project which used that IDE. I delivered in the first month and paid for the second one because I didn't realize it was autorenewing. That was a long time ago.

I also received a Steam game from a friend as Christmas present. I didn't pay but he did.

Probably nothing else.

I used to get my distributions from Walnut Creek, then bought a few boxed editions of Mandrake and SuSE, for several years subscribed to Linux Journal since the yearly days, occasionally bought Linux magazines with CDs on them, did FSF donations a couple of times, nowadays every time I download Ubuntu I always donate donations.

Likewise on Windows apps that I use regularly like Notepad++, jAlbum, Sublime Text, Paint.NET, Thunderbird, Firefox...

I'm also interested in this question. Because looking at myself, I have paid for several apps on both Windows and MacOS but never on Linux. Although to be fair I stopped using Linux as a desktop OS before I had the economic security needed to purchase apps in the first place.

I pay for elementary OS and Godot Engine on Patreon.

CLion and SmartGit

In current use:

- 010editor

- Jetbrains Toolbox

- VMWare Workstation

- Various steam purchases

Years ago:

- Corel Office

- Crossover Office

I don't understand, why is there such a hard dichotomy between "commercial - binary blob" and open source? Why can't most commercial software ship with sources, with a sane license that allows a license holder to study, recompile and modify, but not publish derivative work?

90% of the people who want the source would not pirate the software, and 100% the pirates are satisfied with a binary copy. And don't tell me about copy protection, in practice it's just as effective as a line in the EULA: for any worthwhile software, those who don't care about the license don't care about copy protection either.

I have no problem paying for software, but I don't want to surrender all control of my hardware for a 3rd party to run secret code on it.

> why is there such a hard dichotomy between "commercial - binary blob" and open source?

I see at least 2 reasons.

1) Mindset (and ignorance)

I've worked in big telecom companies, in their technical teams, which means people who know about programming in big (BIG/HUGE) projects. Even there, many of their -very- experienced tech people were AFRAID of anything open-source. They were terrified that using anything that had the words "open" or "free" (as in free software) would mean that they would have to "give" their code "gratis" and lose their customers.

The irony? Those programs were BIG projects that were only useable with their hardware (think stuff like devices' OSs & supervision UIs for telecom equipments), it would not have worked with other devices and any attempt at an adaptation would have cost more than developing from scratch. Add to that that they only sold to a handful of companies (those hardware + software solution are expensive) so they would immediately have noticed that something was wrong, and you see how INSANE it was that they were afraid. They had completely bought the FUD from Microsoft and the like.

And thoss were TECHNICAL people, I leave to your imagination the attitude of managers... :-(((

2) Quality (or lack thereof)

A lot (if not most) of code done for "enterprise software" is of pretty bad quality (and I'm being nice). I've seen such horrors that you are left to wonder how anything AT ALL could work. The incompetence was staggering, comments and tests inexistant, no source management, no documentation, "if" conditions spread over hundreds of lines, 10 thousand lines of SQL in a single file, config files thousands of lines long maintained by hand (which I showed contained hundreds of errors), etc.

Showing how "sausages are made" (an horrifying view) would be bad, maybe even suicide (once their ineptitude would be proven) for those companies.

On the other hand, the bad quality would have quaranteed that nobody used their projects (LOL). Even compiling them was a HARD task. Real example: I had just arrived on a project where the most experienced guy was unable to install on my computer the tools needed for development... I had to write code "blind": without linking & testing nor documentation. Am I surprising you when I tell you it did not go well? (And they had the nerve of blaming me for their incompetence!)

There's a third issue - support.

I worked for a place about 15 years ago which was trying desperately to retire its previous flagship product in favour of the new version. The new version was better written and more scalable, but the major value for them was that they had made a big mistake with the old one -

The gave away source code and allowed customers to customise the software, but they still honoured support contracts. This had turned into a huge cost, as engineers were having to go out to customer sites and spend days figuring out what the customer had done.

You can't effectively support what you can't see, so you can only really support OR allow modifications.

No sensible person is going to be mad with you for asking them to reproduce their issue without local customizations applied if they want you to help them with it.

Write it into your support contracts. Maybe offer smarter customers to review and sign off on their modifications in exchange for a reasonable fee.

These problems can be solved.

Actually, it seems like a huge wasted opportunity. If a company is so invested in your software that it's willing to develop a custom patchset and an internal team to maintain it, then it would make a lot more sense to buy the service from the very people who wrote the software, that know it best and can pull together multiple customer wishlists into standard solutions. That's why the open source service model can exist, the original developer is uniquely positioned to profit from these synergies and deliver value for the customer.

So you can have your proprietary cake and eat it too, you can sell "NO WARRANTY, EITHER EXPRESSED OR IMPLIED" commercial licenses at fixed prices, but at the same time, earn much more profitable support and customization contracts from select customers.

As for the people still opting to customize their own "NO WARRANTY" installation, of course they won't get and don't expect any support for their customization until they also buy a services license.

> asking them to reproduce their issue without local customizations applied

This was a big, complex piece of software, a bank-level payment switch. It's possible that they couldn't run at all in their environment without the customisations applied.

> These problems can be solved.

I agree, if the contracts are well written and sensible :)

actually, from what I hear, this was the standard for Unix enterprise software distribution between 20 and 40 years ago. this was in large part due to the wide variation between Unixes meaning that one would otherwise have to ship several dozen or even more separate binary packages. today, proprietary software largely targets Windows only, which strongly favors binary-only distribution even for open-source software.

Cause giving away what makes your application different is extremely difficult to do and still make money doing it. It can be done, but that comes with a lot more challenges than the traditional "exchange money and receive a thing in return" model.

Regarding: "Forge strong relationships with your Linux users. Make it easy for them to get in touch. Listen to them. Linux is a community — word will spread!" Where would be a good place to ask average users of desktop Linux questions?

* Hiri went to Reddit. I would think that the r/linux community is a very tiny subset of users. Young and bored, who just want to be part of something? Criticizing the mainstream like Microsoft, Ubuntu, GNOME. Like goths and punks from before? That was the impression it gave me when I visited it a few months ago. Doesn't seem to be very representative of the average desktop Linux user.

* IRC is likely too technical. Finding sysadmins and developers there should be no problem, but they're likely not your average user.

* Since Linux is such a small section of the market, it probably won't be of any use to try other social media websites. You can find Windows and iOS users in any community, but not Linux users.

Unless there is no such thing as an average Linux desktop user. Maybe there is no mom & pop, without geeky interests, careers outside of tech, who have Ubuntu on their laptop. Maybe it's all sysadmins, developers, nerds, and youngsters. In which case I don't think there will be a lot of reason to sell anything there other than games and tools like Sublime, although the games might be better on Windows and iOS.

"Unfortunately, the fundamentalist FOSS mentality we encountered on Reddit is still alive and well. Some Linux blogs and Podcasts simply won’t give us the time of day. This is not a problem with the mainstream tech blogs and is a problem unique to Linux."

It seems weird that this guy will try to promote his product to the Linux community and chooses to do it by insulting its user base.

While not all Linux users have a problem with using proprietary source (and those would be their natural clients), most got attracted to the platform for the advantages of its open and freely usable code. IMHO it would do him good to understand and respect the reasons why his potential users value free-libre-open source software, and learn to communicate without disparaging them.

I think you'll find that those who seek to "use our community as a market but not contributing to it" (as the older essay https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-software-for-freedom.htm... points out) will namecall when they think it suits them. He's not the first to do this. Another proprietor called GNU/Linux (which they too called "Linux" perhaps to avoid drawing attention to software freedom by referring to GNU at all) "unAmerican" http://web.archive.org/web/20010508201537/http://news.cnet.c... and "a cancer" http://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/06/02/ballmer_linux_is_a_c... . Now that proprietor wants us to believe they "[heart symbol] Open Source". Perhaps they do.

But the real harm here is the loss of software freedom for users of that program, not the cost of the program or some bad PR from its developer. That's what users rightly objected to and that's what is the incompatibility between free software and proprietary software. Unfortunately this also serves as another example of how someone talking about "open source" (Canonical in this case) pushes for a loss of software freedom--the freedom to run, inspect, share, and modify published computer software built around an examination of how people treat each other ethically with regard to their computers.

>It seems weird that this guy will try to promote his product to the Linux community and chooses to do it by insulting its user base.

Please don't act like you are a representative sample of all linux users. FOSS centric guys are vocal but distributions like Ubuntu became very popular in part because they included and automatically installed proprietary wifi and GPU drivers right from their installer CD.

That you feel insulted reading someone talk about "fundamentalist FOSS" doesn't mean every linux user feels insulted reading the sentence.

Linux users that accept some closed-source code won't feel insulted. I get that.

So, it is OK to insult FOSS centric guys because they'll never be his clients?

The FOSS guys I know have strong convictions but don't generally try to jam their views down the throat of others.

The FOSS fundamentalists, on the other hand, seem to seek the mantle of victimhood so that they can gleefully unleash their vitriol.

Thankfully, the former outnumber the latter 10-1.

Hi there - I'm the author of the post in question. I chose my language carefully. I do think FLOSS only is a fundamentalist position. The word is used to describe a religious believer who interprets scripture literally. I did mean to bring the baggage, but to provoke thought rather than to insult. And I must stress, this only applies to those who believe in FLOSS ONLY, completely turning their back on proprietary software. It's my opinion that this is not a rational position. Proprietary software can complement FLOSS. This is for the people who write to me and say "Not open source? Forget about it!".

Personally, I am a fan of FLOSS. What's not to like? But sometimes private companies compelled to compete in a free market produce better software. Seems to be especially true of consumer facing software. Think Gimp vs. Photoshop or Sketch.

Also, I don't think this is true anymore: "most got attracted to the platform for the advantages of its open and freely usable code". It used to be true, but I think Linux has wider appeal now. And I think that's a good thing.

This shows you just do not understand either free or open source software. Plenty of companies in open source are "private companies compelled to compete in a free market." Indeed, this describes nearly all the money that drives open source development. Red Hat isn't running a charity. Neither is Google.

RMS is as fundamental as they come and even he has no objection to selling software.

People are taking insult from what you say because you misrepresent their position.

"This shows you just do not understand either free or open source software." - Please. Read my comment above for clarity on my position. If you reject ALL proprietary software based on ideology, I think it's fair to say you have a fundamentalist position.

We looked into open source models and couldn't find one that made financial sense for us.

Red Hat is the only truly Open Source company, and it's an important part of their branding.

Google contributes to FOSS super strategically and absolutely no "magic sauce" is FOSS.

What's not to like indeed? With FLOSS you get access to rewrite the code to suit your needs, independence from the provider, possibility to create as many copies as needed (no volume licensing)...

And most importantly, a guarantee that any paid investment to improve the code will be available in the future, no matter what happens to the original provider company. If you pay for closed source instead, the company going bankrupt may convert those investments into sunk cost.

You don't seem to understand that, by being closed source, your product lacks all those desirable properties. Having a strong desire for those benefits which disqualifies any product not complying with them, seems perfectly rational, it's just that they have a different balance of values and benefits from yours, which apparently only value the provided features.

Those traits are desirable, but not essential for most of our users. I still maintain that rejecting ALL proprietary software is a fundamentalist position. The purpose of software is to do a job - to add value on your behalf or on behalf of a company. Although a FLOSS philosophy should factor into the equation when choosing software, it is unlikely that it should be the primary consideration (although there are cases where it could be). If you simply rule out proprietary software on principle, you are doing your company or yourself a disservice. You are failing to extract the best 'work done' from yourself or your colleagues because of an ideology. Hence the use of the word 'fundamentalist'.

I do understand that by being closed source, our software lacks the desirable properties you have mentioned. But we have not been able to find an open source model that makes financial sense for our company.

> FOSS mentality we encountered on Reddit

Reddit is well known for not attracting the best communities and the most reasonable people.

My intention with this comment isn't to promote a culture of weaponized offense-taking. And I'm not even sure if the OP meant the term "fundamentalist" as an insult. But if so ...

I think this would be insulting to persons who self-identify as Fundamentalist Christians [0].

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_fundamentalism

Oh please, don't act as if "fundamentalist" didn't have negative connotations in English. Fundamentalist Christians may decide to identify themselves with that word, but I've never heard of a FLOSS group calling themselves "Fundamentalist Open-Sourcers".

Besides, the insult was not merely in that term, but also considering a "problem" (for him, maybe!) that some Linux users may want to keep their systems pure in terms of no-proprietary software (thus maintaining the Four Freedoms for their whole system), and complaining that popular venues in the community won't advertise his product for being closed-source, which is entirely their prerogative.

> Oh please, don't act as if "fundamentalist" didn't have negative connotations in English.

You may have misunderstood my point. Based on the assumption that the OP wants to avoid unintended insults, I was pointing out the issues one could associate with using "fundamentalist" as a term of derision.

I'm not trying to play PC-police. I was just raising the point in case the OP would want to know.


There are many English words that basically indicate membership in a particular group. Using those words as a term of derision is a slight against the target of those words and the original group.

E.g., "vandal", "gyp", or "hysterical". Or to whit, treating "fundamentalist" as synonymous with blind dogmatism.

Is "vandal" really politically incorrect these days? As far as I can tell from Wikipedia the Vandal people have died out and there is no one left to take offence from having their ethnic name associated with property damage.

> Is "vandal" really politically incorrect these days?

I have no idea. I'm not sure if most persons' definition of "politically correct" is sufficiently nuanced to cover this application.

Ah, thanks for clarification.

It sounds like the author hit a little too close to home.

As a Linux user, while I would certainly prefer to use a FLOSS app, I'm perfectly willing to pay for proprietary software if it scratches an itch that free software simply can't. I bought a license for SublimeText, because I believe it still blows all other code editors out of the water. I purchased InSync, because there's no comparable Google Drive client for Linux that just works. I'd very much like it if the apps were FLOSS, and be allowed to donate or something to support their efforts, but I believe it's important to be willing to compensate the developer on their terms rather than on mine.

> I bought a license for SublimeText.

I did the same thing about six years ago and it was $75 then. Since then its only gone up $5. For me, this is really impressive. As adobe continues to increase the cost of their software seemingly daily, it's nice to see a company invest in their product while still maintaining a very, very affordable product.

I agree on the paid side as well. I just recently went "full Linux" and have no qualms about buying quality software that makes my job as a developer easier.

I would insta-buy a lot of linux proprietary software if it fit my needs. No question, no hesitation.

Things like: lightroom, sketch, omnigraffle,

Your email client looks very well done! Doesn't apply to me, but if I had to use outlook/office 365 I would probably snap it up.

How many people are actually free to use this product? My work uses outlook+office but, due to 101 different things, we are locked into windows and ie. How many people use outlook+office for email but are also free enough from other restrictions to be allowed linux?

Our office is so locked imto win7 that the ongoing upgrade to win10 is killing things. People are migrating to the few win7 machines to complete essential tasks that now seem impossible on win10. Win7 laptops are being hidden from the IT guys in padlocked security cabinets to prevent the upgrade. We are doomed.

Plenty of people work for much smaller companies than big corporates. In fact I'd go so far as to say that most people do.

A lot of people can use Hiri because runs on Windows and Mac too.

Then again, so does Outlook.

> lightroom

Tried Darktable?

Too late to edit -- just wanted to add that I use it daily, and Darktable's capabilities exceed my own. I haven't used Lightroom, but I don't feel crippled.

Essentially every image here https://www.instagram.com/charliehagedorn/ has been processed in Darktable and GIMP.

I am trying to make a living with a software product, a database in particular. RediSQL, SQL steroids for Redis: http://redbeardlab.tech/rediSQL/

So let me share a different point of view.

I find it extremely, extremely difficult.

As far as I know, if you need a solution for in memory SQL as cache layer or also as main persistent layer it is the only available solution, on top of that it works on top of existing, widely deployed solution.

But still I haven't received a single request for support or I have been able to make a single sale.

Of course, I believe is mostly my fault, because similar businesses models (sidekiq) seems to work but, if you ask me, it is definitely not worthed to enter this market.

I will try to focus more on marketing for the following months but if it doesn't work neither I am just going to remove the open source part and use it as an internal advantage for my consulting business. I found it just too convenient respect to Pg or MySQL or Mongo.

I really believe it is a pity, but I believe that if this product, by the end of the year, doesn't work I will just stop developing product for software developers. It is just not worthed.

A small amount of hopefully useful feedback from someone who purchases business software:

1/ Your website gives a 'open source hobby app' vibe over 'professional, dependable software business'. Selling support contracts in particular requires some expectation that there's a solid business standing behind it that won't just be gone tomorrow.

2/ The 'redirect to an external store to download / purchase' will probably be making any sales funnel leak like a sieve. There's a complete discontinuity between the design of the two sites, and along with trusting you with their information / card details, they now have to trust a random third party.

3/ For a ~€1000 piece of software, I'd expect at least some period of eg. email support, rather than just supporting through Github issues.

4/ I'd remove the option of having the open source edition available through sign-up and just link clearly to the latest release. If you're struggling to even get any interest on the commercial side, getting it out in front of as many people as possible would be my priority. A clear and unambiguous 'Get started' section that doesn't worry about open vs. Pro is probably a good idea too. Worry about converting those to paid users later.

Definitely good feedback, thanks.

A major restructuring of the main pages is necessary, I agree.

I definitely need to re-word most part of the website, because selling support should just be a small part of the closed source version that adds the replication feature.

I would re-think again about selling it in a different platform, but setting up a shop is not as easy as it is to just use plasso, maybe I can work better on the platform to make the two more similar.

I am definitely more than keen to provide email support, but also skype or any other meaning of support, I should definitely make it more apparent.

The idea to require a signup is to start building some sort of mail list, as I said I didn't focus on the marketing side so much...

Thank you a lot!

Your feedback was really really helpful!

Just checked out the software. Since you mentioned Sidekiq, I think the main reason it worked commercially is that almost every medium-sized web application needs a background job queue.

However, very few people expect their cache system to support SQL. So the main problem is that there is little or no demand for this type of software.

Anyways best of Luck! Hope you succeed.


the reality is that medium-sized web applications do not need full-fledged databases like Postgres or MySQL and could get along for basically all their needs with something as lightweight as like RediSQL itself without the need of being able to manage a real database.

What is really difficult is to let people know about this opportunity and let them see the advantages.

I believe having more proprietary software available on all platforms (including Mac) improves the situation - especially something "basic" like a mail client.

Yes, FOSS and Linux are "a more natural" match than proprietary and Linux, but the truth is: You can't get everything you might want/need for free at an acceptable quality .

Working for a company which sells niche-software for both Windows (most customers) and Linux (some big $$$ customers), I am happy to see more mainstream developers doing the same. If you're a making consumer software: Please try to follow suit!

Internally, we develop on and for Linux, but our code is cross platform enough (thanks Qt) to easily build on Linux and Windows. The biggest issue for me is remembering which C++ constructs work with GCC/clang but not with the MS compiler (which improved a lot in the last years - and which our CI usually notifies me about).

Other than being engaged by Canonical, is there a reason the Snap platform be preferable to the Flatpak one?

Snap does not even support systems where the home directory is not /home/$user (e.g., a lot of NFS setups) so I'd be very careful. It's a long standing bug and not even the (so far useless) error message has been adjusted.

To distribute to Ubuntu users it's good though, due to being well integrated.

I dunno if I'm doing it wrong, but I really don't like the .AppImage thing. I've never had it successfully add itself to my system, and I don't like that it isn't actually part of a package management system.

I totally understand the frustration of developers wanting to release on Linux and balking at the faff of adding your app to ~n package managers, but AppImage seems to be the wrong solution to that problem.

Snaps are quite nice though, from my experience so far. I've found the documentation a bit lacking, though it is improving.

EDIT: I got confused thinking FlatPak == AppImage, so you can ignore most of the above! I'm gonna check out the FlatPak system, looks interesting.

"First stop, reddit"

Dont go to reddit for market research. You will only find extreem views on reddit. They are the younger crowd. Try the ubuntu or mint forums if you want to talk to average linux users.

I myself would pay for such an email client because no good foss one exists atm. But i find it very odd that such basic software isnt yet free. I dont like the idea of having my email handled by propietary software.

While I was typing my question at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17592842 you already answered it here. Thanks!

> I dont like the idea of having my email handled by propietary software.

Fair point, although I'll point out that you're commenting on a story about a client specifically designed for Microsoft Exchange.

I'm a bit extreme when it comes to my email. Work insists on outlook so I use it there, but for private email I forgo dedicated software. I use webmail on my phone (husmail.com). It is slower, but when the airport security guy asks me to "unlock my phone" I can do so without revealing my email conversations. I don't trust my Andriod phone in the same way I do my ubuntu/mint/kali linux machines.

Yup. Lesson learned on that one alright. It was a mistake.

Agree, esp avoid /r/linux, they are not suitably representative of larger Linux community out there.

Along with the Ubuntu and mint, I would also suggest the archlinux forums, they are quite active.

I'd actually recommend the Arch forums over Ubuntu or Mint. The community seems a lot more friendly IMO.

I am optimistic about snaps even though after using them I found a lot of kinks that still need to be ironed out. But for the users downloading free software which is the main use case they are targeting first it works great. I say "for users" because wrestling with snapcraft (the command used to build snap packages) can be pretty frustrating for non-trivial programs. Cross compiling for arm was one thing that I was struggling with and ended up just doing my arm builds on a Raspberry Pi. A think many issues could be resolved by having snapcraft use it's own repo sources rather than whatever the host OS is using. Also for proprietary apps there is currently no way to have a private "store" so you are limited to installing from a .snap package using --dangerous --devmode flags and lose a lot of the benefits of using snaps in the first place (mainly automated updates).

As an old school Linux desktop person from back in the day: whatever happened to Evolution? The whole reason it was created was to sell an Exchange client plugin.

I use Evolution every day with the evolution-ews plugin for accessing an Exchange server. It's still a bit clunky as it always was, and has some issues when switching between wired/wireless networks, but otherwise works fine for email, calendar, and contacts.

Same, once or twice a week I have to close evolution and open it again to get it to resync but otherwise it's less painful than Outlook 16 on W10.

The original plugin worked with the WebDAV support in Exchange, which was removed some versions ago. To make it work properly you need to support the MAPI protocol Outlook uses, which is undocumented and (at least used to be) obfuscated.

evolution (and evolution-ews, which is open source) work very well for office365. I personally only use the calendaring as read-only, but I assume it can create events. Email works fine.

> Turns out there aren’t a lot of email clients for Linux users that work with Exchange / Office 365

Has Linux on the desktop really fallen so far in the last years? When did the decay really set in?

How does open source friendly Microsoft not see Linux email clients support falling behind at least as a problem in MS documenting its APIs, if not an opportunity to participate in the major open source clients and influence and attract developers?

If you need an _email_ client, implementing support for the exchange protocol is probably the least of your concerns.

Even if the exchange protocol was open, I wouldn't implement support for a specific vendor knowing there are protocols which are more commonly used.

Microsoft could instead start by improving their implementation of IMAP in exchange, which is one of the most horrid and buggy implementations of IMAP I've ever seen. This is also true for their IMAP endpoint at office365.com.

But it's clear where they stand: outlook is the ultimate corporate lock-in, and it's not due to email by itself.

As someone who was worked on an email client before:

IMAP and the raw message/rfc822 format is already a quite complex format to handle. Most open-source software starts by building their logic around these formats.

Exchange is a completely different model, everything from how you communicate with the server, how you store the bits on disk or in memory, or even the logical structure of messages. On top of this, it adds several features that don't really have a parallel in the standard RFCs. For most people working on email clients, it is far easier to tell users "enable IMAP on your Exchange server" than to actually implement the full top-to-bottom stack you need to get things working. Even then, given the likelihood of bugs and missing features, it's hard to justify making the switch from Exchange to $ALTERNATIVE, and if you didn't need those missing features, well go back to enabling IMAP and use that instead.

The APIs that MS uses for Exchange are largely public at this point. Even the mapping between MAPI messages and message/rfc822 that Outlook does is released in one of the documents.

I'm not sure it's worth building an email client that works with Exchange/Office 365 on Linux, when you can use the web interface. Particularly as much of a PITA that trying to use EWS is, and how different it is for on-premise vs Office 365 usage.

It's currently a toss-up whether it's even worth trying to use Outlook on Windows desktops, as much of a buggy, hogging, piece of garbage it is.

Office 365 comes with a very good web verison of Outlook, which supports more modern features than most email clients do (such as Office 365 Groups).

I suspect it doesn't bother them hugely that desktop client support is falling behind on any platform.

edited to add: Oddly I can't find much marketing by Microsoft of the browser Outlook, otherwise I'd link it here, but I'd say it's about 85-90% feature complete compared with the desktop client.

I do agree that the Outlook web app is good and is getting better all the time. Personally though (and I think a lot of people would agree), I like to have a standalone email client that doesn't constantly get lost in tab clutter.

Having used webmail for about 7 years (I used Gnus before), the tab clutter problem is easy to avoid. Right click the tab, select "Pin tab", and you're done.

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