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[flagged] Show HN: Cliapp.store – An App Store for CLI Apps (feram.io)
19 points by adius on Sept 30, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 38 comments

The most important question for me looking at projects like git, httpie and youtube-dl being sold for 2,99€... Have they actually been submitted by their respective owner? If so kudos to this project for opening an additional revenue stream for opensource projects.

If that's not the case, this seems like yet another shady project, like plenty posted recently (I remember a similar one based on the softwarestack used), where the name of big successful opensource projects is used to collect money on their behalf and afterwards when enough money is piled up, they are offered to take the money on terms set by the marketplace.

Sorry of it appears shady. It's definitely not supposed to be. Although I submitted the apps myself, I talked to a few of the authors beforehand. Some were excited to have an potentially additional source of income as (who would have guessed it) their donation buttons don't yield a lot. Others didn't really care and wanted me to donate any profits. This first version is more an example how things could look like, and I hope that the respective teams take over their apps in the future and that developers submit new apps themselves.

There are pricing info modals that say that 70% of the proceeds of those apps go to their respective developers. These apps, it seems, have been seeded into the store by the authors of the platform.

All commits to date have been by the author of cli-apps. There have been no PRs or contributions from other maintainers.

Most of the programs that you're publishing on your "app store" have independent monetization channels, including direct donations from their users via accounts that they control. They might be surprised (and annoyed) to discover that you're charging for their work, even if the majority of that money ultimately makes it to them.

As others have pointed out, you probably have the legal right to run this sort of store. However, you should strongly consider consulting each project before listing them -- you might find that many are hostile to this sort of platform, and would prefer not to be hosted on it.

That's what I did! Most were excited for an additional source of income as (who would have guessed it) their donation buttons don't yield a lot. It's also about discoverability and usability. Some projects have really complicated donation terms and hide the respective links on some nested sub pages. On cliapp.store I want to make it easier and more natural for users to support the developers.

As a suggestion, perhaps it would be better to start talking with homebrew for this instead, and generally bolting on top of existing package managers rather than adding another place to get things from.

I'm the Homebrew lead maintainer and I can publicly confirm you have not had any contact with our project to discuss monetisation.

Such a double standard.

Every time an open source project complains about the challenges of monetization (see the recent Redis controversy), people say "Don't like other companies making money off your software? Then don't license it that way!"

But now that someone is actually doing that, people are not happy.

My hypothesis is that people's opinion on this subject depends on what's convenient for them, and is not necessarily a reflection on whether the act itself is a good one or not.

People can already get all these CLI apps very conveniently from a package manager, for free, and that is the reason why the idea of a paid app store disgusts people.

Every time a GPL vs BSD conversation comes up, most people support BSD, saying that it's "more free". But I think the true reason is that people want to be able to use BSD-licensed libraries in their apps, which they profit from.

Why were so many people against Redis Labs trying to protect their revenue streams? I think it's because people felt threatened that they may have to pay more in the future.

We, as a community, need to make up our minds and stop being misled by our own agendas. It is fine to have one's own agenda but stop conflating that with moral issues.

They are openly lying about the terms. Click the "trial license" (what?) text on any of the shop pages and read

> You can try out Pandoc for free. To use it regularly, you must buy a license.

They do not detail how they intent to share the money with the authors. Did they prepare with all the authors, are or they collecting money in their name without them agreeing to that? E.g. money paid to buy something is different than a donation from a tax perspective: how many authors are actually going to go to the paperwork to get the money?

There is a "Pricing Info" link right below the payment button where I describe meticulously where the money goes. Offering an unlimited trail for an actually commercial product is a standard (and I think very generous) licensing term. Just check out https://www.sublimetext.com.

Pandoc is not a commercial product. By claiming one must buy a license, you are misrepresenting its actual license. If you're actually selling your own wrapper around it, make that clear.

The pricing info link also sounds dangerously like what other projects have done in the past: "we take the money and put it in a pot, and at some point the author can ask us for the money and we'll figure out how to get it to them". This means users wanting to support the dev unwittingly put the money in a pot the dev has then to go through additional effort and potentially expense to access, which the users would have avoided if they'd known, e.g. through a direct donation. If you actually have clear agreements with authors on how this is going to work, you should emphasize that. If you don't, that should be clear too.

Unless the license of the software you're selling allows you to relicense the software (GPL doesn't, MIT does), this argument is invalid.

> Every time an open source project complains about the challenges of monetization (see the recent Redis controversy), people say "Don't like other companies making money off your software? Then don't license it that way!"

Did @woodruffw say that anywhere? Otherwise it's not really a double standard but just different people having different opinions.

> We, as a community, need to make up our minds and stop being misled by our own agendas.

We as a (presumably "open source" community) should accept that people within our community have a divergent range of views on monetisation and are all entitled to express those views.

@woodruffw is a Homebrew maintainer and I'm the Homebrew lead maintainer. We're both surprised to learn about a project that's monetising the work of the package manager we work on (and many others) without any sort of heads up. There's no obligation to provide one, of course, but at the same time we have no obligation to make it easy for or be happy about our work being used in this way.

Those are different issues entirely.

Right now, a party that is independent of the original developers has attempted to charge money for the work. There's no indication that the original authors consented to this, and there's no assurance besides some platitudes in a blog post that the authors will receive any part of the payment

But the seller does not need consent from the original authors! That is the whole point of open source licenses and of my comment! Amazon did not have to ask for consent to make money off Redis or Linux or anything else, but that is exactly why Redis Labs was not happy.

See also https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.en.html

You're responding to the legality of this store, which I addressed in the original comment. Everybody is on-board with the idea that selling other peoples' open source work is legal, and there's no particular problem with that.

The ethical problem, here in particular, is presenting yourself as an official storefront for the open source community. I don't care if Amazon integrates my projects into their infrastructure (they probably already do!) -- they don't present themselves as my financial middleman.

Why should I pay you, whom will inevitably take a cut on top of the payment processing cut, when I can donate to the developer directly where only the payment processing cut exists? I.e. you arbitrarily have `jq` listed for 2.99 .. why?

Because you won't otherwise.

I'm sorry that you assumed the worst of me, but I definitely do support some of the tools I use the most via either personal funds or, in the case of work, work funds.

This guy is just sticking his hand in a pot I feel he doesn't need to.

Where it isn't with money, I support with time to the project. Yes, I can't support _every tiny thing_ I use, but it's not a requirement.

"You can try out Git for free. To use it regularly, you must buy a license."

Which license does this notice message refer to? This is completely wrong!

I agree, this is very badly phrased for git. It refers to the version of git we're selling, which only really makes sense as soon as we start to provide our own downloads (soon…).

To be accurate, it's badly phrased for most products. You (effectively) can't use software unless you're licensed to do so. Every app you ship that an end user can use must therefore be licensed. Most open source licenses contain clauses that the version that you're delivering (either for free or charging for it) retain the original license conditions.

I appreciate the idea of allowing utility CLI programs to be monetised by their authors. But it does look at the moment like the site is charging for git, pandoc, etc.

Is any of that money going to the authors?

Of course it is technically legal to charge for these things. But it is unlikely to endear you to the community.


The payment is composed of following parts:

19 % (0.57 €) is German VAT

Of the remaining 81 % (2.42 €)

70 % (1.69 €) go to the developer of the app (Ricardo Garcia). This amount is not transferred immediately, but aggregated until a threshold of 10 € is exceeded to reduce transaction costs.

30 % (0.73 €) go to us (Feram GmbH) in order to power this website and ensure a sustainable development.

I was asking about open source apps that they are selling on the store without the copyright holders' knowledge or permission. (On the basis that neither knowledge or permission is legally required.)

They claim the same for those. How they implement that is a good question.

This sounds like you are trying to trick people into paying for free applications. Scummy.

All of these applications and a whole lot more are available in Homebrew as well. Which can be kept upgraded with Topgrade [1]

[1] https://github.com/r-darwish/topgrade

I understand that this is flagged now, because the idea seems to have significant obvious problems. The discussion on this though and why those problems exist and what to do better would be good to continue however.

I really like the root need of this, paying for open source, but I think the execution is significantly off. It might be nice to see an open source foundation create something similar to how topgrade works, but for funding.

This is terrible. The pricing info page is completely misleading, and written in a way that obscures the fact that all of this software is available completely for free.

Can anyone explain to me in layman terms, how this is legal? I mean charging money for freely available open source tools, not owned by this site?

Free software / open source allows charging money. This is even intentional. See also https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/selling.en.html

In case of copyleft licenses, the only thing not allowed is preventing your buyers from exercising the same freedom you had. That is, they are allowed to redistribute without cost, and they too are allowed to sell.

GPL, MIT, and BSD licenses like these allow for commercializaton and/or distribution charges. It's a nice feature of the licenses that allow for curation and distribution of nice packages, CDs, etc.

That being said, I'm finding myself reactive viscerally to this site and what feels like an abuse of friendly licenses.

This is really shady and I don't see advantages over a conventional package manager

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