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Blender Is Free Software (blender.org)
730 points by kiki_jiki 17 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 326 comments



It's nice a high profile project such as Blender speaks about freedom to push back against the "source available" movement.

I've always wondered why niche specific software such as Blender doesn't have a ton of industry backing. Any medium sized graphics shop could have a full developer on the payroll for a fraction of the repeated licensing costs of proprietary solutions, that is, someone who works full time on Blender and whom you can directly approach, in-house, for features and fixes.

And it wouldn't even interfere with their competitive edge, since the software isn't their business. They don't have to care about the GPL as long as the software does what they want.

I think it has something to do with appealing to an employee's vanity, where getting a very expensive software package "for free" to do your job makes one feel appreciated.


Tangent Animation is trying to change this! They use almost 100% Blender, have some developers and contribute back to the community. See "Next-Gen" on Netflix for their latest movie.

Disclaimer: Worked for them as a Blender developer on Next-Gen


I watched this with my kid just the other day, I had no idea it was done with Blender.

It has also been used for many of the VFX shots in the TV show "Man in the High Castle".

https://www.blender.org/user-stories/visual-effects-for-the-...


Are you able to talk about anything you did there? I only get to work on open source in my spare time (and nothing as complex as Blender). What did a normal day look like for you?


Our repository is public. You can look at every single commit we did: https://github.com/tangent-animation/blender278/commits/mast...

"Normal days" changed during the course of the project. In the beginning, it was work on new features for months if necessary, towards the end it were overnight patches for "frame x in shot y looks wrong/crashes/takes forever".


Thank you!


BlenderConf 2018 had a talk from the co-founder of Tangent (Jeff Bell) about how Blender was used for Next Gen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZn3kCsw5D8


Thank you, too.


The whole movie is made by Blender? What was the pitfall? Is there any dev blog I can read?


They had a presentation at the blender conference about it

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZn3kCsw5D8

Yes, almost everything is made in blender except for some textures which were painted in Substance Painter and volumetric effects like explosions which were generated in FumeFX and Houdini before being imported, rendered and composited in blender.


That was pretty cool. Thank you! I wish they talked a little more about the difficulties they faced and how they solved them. If I remember correctly Ton Roosendaal once said one of the purposes of the Blender Open Movie project is to showcase the Blender is capable of handling complex large projects. After 4 open movie project it must have matured enough that Tangent Animation was able to solve most of their problems themselves! Awesome!


A senior lighting artist on the film mentions a few difficulties in the comments below.

- motion blur render times. (They patched Cycles to use Embree as its ray engine to solve this)

- memory consumption

- lack of UDIM

- clunky compositor

https://www.blendernation.com/2018/08/20/next-gen-blender-pr...


Here’s some info I found: https://www.blendernation.com/2018/08/20/next-gen-blender-pr...

Looks like a good movie. And Netflix dubbed it to Swedish! Will probably watch it with my kids some time.


My kids went wild for Next-Gen, I had no idea it was done in Blender! The graphics are first-class, really impressive stuff. I'm an amateur, but I couldn't tell it apart from other studios such as Pixar.


Blender’s built in tenderer is known to be quite good, but I’m not sure they used it on the movie.


Cycles (Blender's built in path tracer) with some modifications. (Cryptomattes are now in 2.8, and the Embree patch will be integrated somewhere after.)

"Yes, cycles was used for everything, though our version of cycles was modified (with stefan's embree core, and crypto-mattes which were beyond valuable for compositing). The version of blender we used was the studios own dev version (which I believe was using blender 2.78 as it's base?)"

https://www.blendernation.com/2018/08/20/next-gen-blender-pr...


My kid definitely liked it. I love anything CG so I'm extremely interested want to watch again knowing blender was 100% used.


There’s lots of small shops transitioning to Blender or using Blender. The studio that makes A Man in A high Castle VFX used Blender and there’s some animation studios in Spain using Blender.

The reason why it’s not used more: as good as it is Blender is still not Maya or Cinema 4D. Each 3D application has its own strengths and Maya has a LOT of tools that are application specific and that other applications might struggle to copy because they are so intertwined into its UX/UI and of course lots of proprietary R&D.

There’s also the question of pipeline - .fbx file format is the standard in the industry and for good or for bad it’s ruled by Autodesk afaik. Other applications have to adversarially replicate it (i think?) a bit like .doc files going onto iWork

And on your comment of having employees working on Blender - I believe Disney has a few people who contribute to Blender. But lots of the other applications like Maya and Katana are also extensible and studios like ILM have extensively modified Maya and others so to answer your question - they do extend other applications like Maya, Katana and NUKe and they have people on staff working on those extensions.

The thing those extensions or plugins turn out to often be excellent competitive advantage against other studios so it’s actually helpful to keep them in house. All the big VFX studios have multiple proprietary technologies that they don’t share them with anyone at all - unless it becomes advantageous to sell it to others, in which try often spin it off or sell it to The Foundry.


> I think it has something to do with appealing to an employee's vanity, where getting a very expensive software package "for free" to do your job makes one feel appreciated.

It learned 3D modelling with one of those "very expensive software packages" and it made me feel appreciated at the time. The knowledge however is now completely useless for me because the software, while still existing, is totally niche now. Blender would have been a lifetime investment...


Remember doing bits and bobs with Alias studio (more than 15 years ago) when I was a kid. I think it used to cost about $100K, which to me,at the time, was something out of this world. The principles behind these packages are almost always the same so they are relatively transferable.Of course, understanding new interface and software itself is a step one would need to take when transitioning.


This! If people think that getting to use expensive proprietary software is somehow appreciation, that seems like a massive failure of education in basics of economics?

Getting to learn skills that you can't use unless you continue to pay for the expensive right to use those skills should be valued negatively by a rational economic agent.


It's more likely that the SFX industry has their training done on proprietary software, and shops that don't use the industry standard ones like Maya would have trouble hiring. Plus the after market plugins tend to be commercial in nature and won't want to sell with a GPL licence.


[flagged]


> The concepts and techniques are universal, the only difference is the implementation.

only someone who hasn't really used the tool in anger and mastered it would claim this. I can't even switch to eclipse from intellij and not have a huge productivity hit for several months. and that's just typing code! A real 3D modeller would have so much muscle memory for their modelling app of choice it't not funny.


I've been trying to learn SolidWorks, coming from Autodesm Inventor, and I can confirm- it's really hard to switch- SolidWorks is more powerful, even, and is better at what I want to do- and I've only been using Inventor off and on for around 4 years.

I can only imagine what it would be like to switch from something that you've used a flavor of for your whole career to something entirely new, and 3D modelling for animations is way more complex than what I've ever dealt with.


That's a little bit different. A LOT of CAD software is built on decades-old legacy ways of doing things because old people won't retire and can't be bothered to learn new and better ways of operating. It's much less focused on artistic creation and more on engineering. As a result CAD software wants you to work in a specific way with it. Order of operations is extremely important and can be different from one package to another.

Keeping it in a programming paradigm, CAD is more like assembly. It's different from platform to platform and even if you know one there's no guarantee you can make another work. Contrast that with 3d modeling packages which mostly use the same concepts, and order of operations rarely matters.


Ohhhhhhh. That makes a lot of sense- and now I'm frustrated because it probably won't ever change that much because there will always be an older generation.

I understand why people use Blender as a CAD package a lot more now, thanks!


Yes, exactly this.

As someone who had a prior career in VFX using mostly Autodesk and Adobe software, there are people who spend their whole career in one of these packages and have a lot of difficulty becoming fluent in a second one.

They are designed with completely different metaphors and workflows and yes, the end result is always pixels, but learning multiple high end creative software is nothing like learning different programming languages.


If those people ever actually put in the effort they'd find all the same tools just under different names. While it may take a while to get the nuances down at the end of the day they all do the same things. It's simply a matter of adapting your existing skill to a new workflow.

Just like a programming language.


We need to compare Apples with apples here. VFX is like programming languages,while the software(Maya, SOLIDWORKS, Blender) are like IDEs ( Eclipse, Intellij). The principles behind VFX software are universal, however one should be able to get going by simply reading a decent book about the package.


Companies don't really put too much emphasis on tools that someone has used when hiring. It's nice if they have expertise in some areas but mostly people are hired for the quality of their work and they will learn new software depending on what the company uses.


Well shit I guess my 20+ years of professional experience means I'm not a "real" 3d modeller because some twat on the internet has never actually used a 3d modeling application in their life and has no clue how they actually function.

I'm sorry you're so shit at your job that switching IDEs screws you up. Not all of us are so incompetent.


>If you have even a modicum of experience with one thing, you can pick the other up in an afternoon and be up to speed within a week.

Have you found this to be true in your experience?


> the after market plugins tend to be commercial in nature and won't want to sell with a GPL licence.

That’s exactly it, developing a high-end plug-ins is very expensive; to give that away for free is completely illogical. It’s a restaurant giving away sandwiches and selling napkins. Selling “service” and “support” or “hosting,” is ridiculous for the plugin industry. Most people in the business know how to use most of the important plugins already, so what kind of support would be needed at a level that users would pay? In all of my 15+ years of owning Waves audio plugins, I have not once contacted their support. If I need a reverb, I pay someone for a reverb. I am not going to pay someone to provide “support” for my reverb. I’m a pro, I don’t need to pay for help with a tool that has been almost industry standard for years.

I love open source, Postgres, Rails, Sidekiq for example. But the GPL-religious side of open source? Not so much. It seems too culty-dogmatic-restricted. Kind of the opposite of “free.” “You are free to do anything you want, except anything we don’t want you to do. The MIT license is the one that is actually free.


> except anything we don’t want you to do. The MIT license is the one that is actually free.

GPL's ideals are good. It's just that the ideals are hard to achieve when there's a need to also make money. I would describe MIT style to be 'free to exploit me [the software] as you please, even if you don't intend to contribute anything back'.


I wonder if a GPL that said you cannot redistribute this for a price equal to or less than the amount you paid for it.

So if you got it free, it is fair to redistribute free or charge for it or whatever. But if the original author sold it to you for $40, you must sell it for at least $41. There's no royalties; all that money is yours, it just means you can't compete with the original author on price alone.

idk tho i gotta think about it


Then AutoDesk would drop the money on the table, fork your code and develop new features in the same time, then bundle free Arnold, and every AutoDesk format. And then youare ruled out. This is the same as it's happening with AWS. They may not be able to compete on prize, but as they got a much bigger budget, you are already out, unless they are very incompetent and you are not.

Also, this is assuming your initial software is worth "stealing", it has to be good enough first, which Blender is nowadays.


>And it wouldn't even interfere with their competitive edge, since the software isn't their business. They don't have to care about the GPL as long as the software does what they want.

Most developers know this, but company managers that forbid open source contribution don't understand this. That's why I'm personally not too much against source available licensing. It's the only language old companies understand.


“Source available” licensing is useless. Many companies and many developers have tried to misappropriate the term “Open Source”, to make it be understood as “source available”, because Open Source / Free Software have sex appeal for developers, so they are trying to have their cake and eat it too.

Don’t fall into that trap. The freedoms provided by both Open Source and Free Software licensing are well defined and mean (1) the right to use the program for whatever purpose and (2) the right to fork.

Anything else is unacceptable.

As for what language companies understand, many of us don’t give a fuck. If they are good citizens and distribute software under FOSS compatible licenses all is good, otherwise we’re not interested, because the availability of the source code is not the point, the right to use that source code is ;-)


Source available is useful for debugging at least. I sure wish I had 'source available' when making iOS apps!


It's not.

Looking at source code without the license to copy from it ... is a legal minefield ;-)


> Source available is useful for debugging at least

how so?


I'm not the parent author, but when I developed Android applications having the source to the widget libraries available to me me was incredibly valuable.


It's being buzzworded pretty badly. I hate hearing about non-software things referred to as "open source."


The recent reaction of those developers how non-copyleft licenses are being "abused" kind of speaks otherwise.


Which reaction?


Being enranged that companies just made what MIT style licenses allow them to do to start with, and creating derived licenses to work around it.


Yeah but those enraged people don't count- those are just whiners who didn't understand the licenses they were licensing their own work under. Or they don't understand the point of FLOSS to begin with- they thought that releasing their stuff as FLOSS was some sort of business or career move that would somehow benefit them later, which is rarely ever going to happen, and will almost certainly never happen to someone who's only contributing because they think it will personally benefit them someday. To those people, a PSA- just because some CS undergrad with self-diagnosed Aspergers and a trust fund who's never had a job in their lives told you on Slashdot that putting stuff on Github will someday make you rich or famous, doesn't mean it'll happen, no matter how much everyone involved wants that to be the world we live in. There are tons of great reasons to put stuff on Github, but none of them are related to money or fame or helping one's career.

Anyway, so then, when someone else somehow makes money using their code and they don't get a cut, of course that seems like "abuse" to them. If they had any idea what they were doing they would have realized that that's not "abuse" at all, because other people using their code for any purpose whatsoever is literally the point of the license.

It's just as bad if not worse when anyone reflexively GPL's their work without understanding that, because there's a freaking holy hell of a lot more legal consequences to understand about the GPL than there are about say, 2-clause BSDL, which is basically just "this is copyrighted by me and you can't remove my copyright" and "if you use this and something goes wrong, you can't sue me". If they didn't understand such a simple license, what hope do they have of understanding the GPL? None at all whatsoever. People who've been arguing about the GPL for 20+ years rarely understand the GPL, at least not in its entirety.

There's nothing wrong with someone making their code proprietary or GPL'd or whatever- it's their code, and it's their choice to make. But it's also their responsibility to understand all the consequences of that choice, and it's their responsibility to understand why they want to release their code in the first place.


Speculation on my part, but I think one of the reasons the big graphics companies have their own software (think Pixar) at least in part is because it gives their results a unique visual look that becomes part of the brand.

Why anyone would use all third-party proprietary software, I have no idea.


Pixar has a house style, with procedural textures, written in Renderman. Everybody else mostly takes pictures of real world stuff and uses those as textures. Pixar's approach has the advantage that the camera can get very close to a surface without the texture going blocky. "A Bug's Life" and "Toy Story" use this heavily. Wouldn't help in making an Avengers movie.

Here's where that procedural texture approach started: "Road to Point Reyes".[1] First "photorealistic" render, 1983. Today, that's not even an acceptable game asset.

[1] https://lucasmuseum.org/works/detail/asset_id/1292


It’s risk management - it’s better to pay a bit more for a packaged product and accept it’s drawbacks than hire a developer who may or may never deliver.


I would think the obvious way a corporation could contribute would be financially.


But it's voluntary. When a company (or most individuals) get the product for free, there is little incentive to pay anything.

I think the notion that people (and companies) pay for proprietary software because there is support or some other reasons are complete BS. They pay for software because they have to in order to use it. It's just a cost of doing business.

As free software has become viable (high quality) in some areas, business folks are more willing to allow it. The primary concern is "can it do the job". The second is how much will it cost me?


We were discussing “hire a developer to contribute” vs “financial contribution”. Of course it’s voluntary and the incentive is low, but that’s off topic.


That's what they do to contribute financially to software development. It's called buying a license.

Sure, sometimes they buy closed sourcr licenses, but as a corporation providing services to a third party you don't care about the license - you care very much the software adds the value to the output of the employee who uses it.


The GP was talking about hiring a developer to contribute. I pointed out that financial support is an option. Yes, licensing is one model, but a check is also valid.


I think what you're referring to is paying for -support- There is no blender version of "Red Hat" that companies can rely on to deliver fixes or support.


> ...than hire a developer who may or may never deliver.

I don't really see the difference between this and "accept its drawbacks", except that if your developer turns out to be productive, you have something a lot more valuable on your hands, and if the developer fails, you can replace them (whereas for a given proprietary product, you typically can not replace the vendor while keeping the licensing agreement and investment in training [this last bit being a big part of why in-house developers make sense for Blender, as they always have for 3D animation studios]).


>I don't really see the difference between this and "accept its drawbacks"

The difference is one is known, and the other is unknown. When you're evaluating existing software you can evaluate multiple competitors based on their finished product. You can't do that when you're hiring a developer.

>and if the developer fails, you can replace them (whereas for a given proprietary product, you typically can not replace the vendor while keeping the licensing agreement and investment in training [this last bit being a big part of why in-house developers make sense for Blender, as they always have for 3D animation studios]).

I'd say this argument supports using only existing established successful products, to avoid being burnt.


> one is known

Only if the software you're buying meets all of your current and future requirements, and is maintained indefinitely. If new requirements come up, they're at least not any more helpful than in-house resources (unless a lot of people suddenly have the same requirements at the same time); and if they stop maintaining it, there's a good chance you literally can't do anything about that.

You just have a different set of unknowns, one of which seems more manageable (which is probably why it is more popular), and probably is more manageable in some subset of use cases.


>Only if the software you're buying meets all of your current and future requirements, and is maintained indefinitely.

Nobody expects 3d design software to be maintained indefinitely or expects 3d design software to satisfy future requirements magically. You buy a 3d design software to make you money by creating content. Either it makes you money or it doesn't. The easiest thing to do is to simply buy what everyone else is using because it makes it easier to hire talent from a pre-existing pool of experts, or if need be, train them on a software for which training programs already exist because its popular.

>If new requirements come up, they're at least not any more helpful than in-house resources (unless a lot of people suddenly have the same requirements at the same time);

Well, wait a minute. Before you even get there, you not only have to be good at producing 3D art/content (or atleast good enough to make a decent chunk of change), you have to now hire dev/test/pm folks and successfully run a software development team in-house. I don't find this to be a realistic proposition.

>and if they stop maintaining it, there's a good chance you literally can't do anything about that.

A vendor for any software that you rely on can go out of business. Do you plan to run independent software development teams for your OS, accounting software, browser, IDE, etc ? The answer obviously is no. And the same reasoning applies to your 3d design software.

>You just have a different set of unknowns, one of which seems more manageable (which is probably why it is more popular), and probably is more manageable in some subset of use cases.

I don't agree at all. I think it actually is more manageable.


> you have to now hire ...test/pm folks

Do you? Depends on what you need done.

> I don't agree at all. I think it actually is more manageable.

Well, at that point it is a matter of opinion.


I like the idea but I don’t think it scales. How many developers are qualified to work on Blender? It would be hard to hire for. Also you need someone that both works in your organisation and that fits in well with the blender developers so their patches get accepted etc.

I don’t think the popularity of proprietary solutions is vanity, it’s rather that switching between 3d modellers is really hard. It might be months before you’re even close to productive again. Also interoperability between packages is a huge problem. Blender only really started to get a good UI this decade, and I think you’re more likely to see it get picked up in new shops rather than old shops migrating.


"Switching between 3d modellers" undersells the issue.

COMPLETELY ALTERING YOUR PRODUCTION PIPELINE TO ACCOMMODATE ONE PACKAGE gets the point across a little bit better.

There are studios out there that have decades of in-house scripts and programs built around a given set of software. If you do a lot of architectural rendering you may have your own outdoor lighting systems. If you focus primarily on title sequences you may have certain effects that you developed. Having to completely rewrite all of that in-house code would be a MASSIVE undertaking.


> Any medium sized graphics shop could have a full developer on the payroll for a fraction of the repeated licensing costs of proprietary solutions, that is, someone who works full time on Blender and whom you can directly approach, in-house, for features and fixes.

DIY is time-consuming, difficult, and doesn't scale. Small companies often start out with as cheap a solution as they can, but as they grow they'll find they're doing way more work just to support the DIY solution, and features are difficult and time-consuming to produce. If you have the money and you need a feature now, licensing makes sense.


> I've always wondered why niche specific software such as Blender doesn't have a ton of industry backing.

Because prior to Blender 2.8 it was really really bad software compared to commercial alternatives.

Blender is becoming quite good. Which impresses the hell out of me. But it’s taken a long, long time to get there.


What's great along with Blender, is the availability of very very inexpensive rendering using https://golemgrid.com/. It's name your own price and can be had for 1/10th the cost of using a render farm.


What changed to 2.8 to make it compare favorably to commercial alternatives? Is it just the UI?


User interface, discoverability(That whole UX thing), and a new reasonable sane default control scheme.(Which can be toggled back to the old one.)


Maybe they don't have time to wait for features to be developed? Only the biggest projects have people saying "we'll need new fur/hair/dragon breath/water effects" early on and have a long or flexible timeline. Whereas your average project just need to work with what they already have. Even GoT which had a huge budget must have tight delivery deadlines that will make a project manager think twice before putting software development on their critical path.


Statistically speaking software development is extremely risky from the point of view that n units of work will create x units of deliverables.

If you are not a software shop you really would like to outsource those risks.

Hence, they pay the capital cost to get a fixed, known deliverable.

Developing new software is hard and risky. Sure, if you can get the right team for the job it can work out wonderfully but this just creates another level of risk - you need to find the right developers.


If someone wants fixed, known deliverables, the last thing they should be looking at is proprietary software, where a seemingly stable product suddenly updates and everything is different and the license changes retroactively, e.g Photoshop. Version controlled, open source means you can check out any version you might need, at any time, now and forever. Seems worth throwing some money at such a promise.


Spoken like someone that doesn't own a business. You do not throw money at promises. You throw money at solutions.


Possibly a better phrasing would be "An open source ecosystem is worth investing in to hedge against the risk of license and source changes by the vendor"


If you are short sighted enough to only care about day to day operations and don't see competence in software usage as an investment that will bring competitive advantages in the long run.


Your competitive advantage is your staff, not your software. A company like Pixar only has so many proprietary tools because they've been around so damn long that rolling their own was the only way to go to get the results they wanted.

Even then, Pixar's advantage was the people they hired and allowed to thrive... not Renderman.


I agree; software people tend to think about business in terms of software. But if you're a production company then you should focus on your core competency and outsource software development. You generally don't have the in house expertise to manage software projects.

Conversely, if you're a software company and have media production needs, you generally don't in-house it — you focus on your core competency and outsource media production.

Software people tend not to question outsourcing when it's done by a software company outsourcing things outside their core competency.


The main reason why Blender,GIMP and the likes don't get a lot of backing from the industry is because pricing is just a small puece of the overall picture. If a shop is anything but some random visualisations for real estate, there are budgets, decent salaries and etc., so even spending a few grand on Maya or 3DS Max doesn't quite change anything. Development in such a niche and complex field takes time.I doubt one developer would be able to do much,even full time,apart from fixing some small bugs..


I've used extensively Blender and HAD TO use Gimp. I strongly disagree the correlation. Although it is one you could make on paper, Blender is a fantastic piece of software and highly usable. Gimp is gimp.


"Any medium sized graphics shop could have a full developer on the payroll for a fraction of the repeated licensing costs of proprietary solutions"

If the returns to the particular company that employed the developer was higher than the opportunity cost of expending that money elsewhere in the company, then you'd have a strong case for that. However, most medium sized graphics shops are probably concerned that they'd effectively be subsidising their competitors' production costs, since the 'exclusive' returns to the shop employing the developer are likely minimal compared to any other user of the feature they develop.

The free rider problem / tragedy of the commons strikes again.


> However, most medium sized graphics shops are probably concerned that they'd effectively be subsidising their competitors' production costs, since the 'exclusive' returns to the shop employing the developer are likely minimal compared to any other user of the feature they develop.

What causes most usage of big proprietary software is that the software has 10,000 features and every customer only needs five of them, but for each customer it's a different five. That makes it hard for a free competitor to get users because adding five features only gets one customer; it scales poorly without revenue.

But as the customer yourself, having your developer add the five things you yourself need is completely feasible, and doesn't help your competitors that much because the five things they need are different.


Nobody wants to wait for a developer to implement the things they want. If they have work to do, they need a solution NOW. Pick what's available and pay what it costs. For commercial software that's some $$$ and for Free software that's $0.00. Then once the purchase has been made, the question of paying someone to work on it is a separate issue. Most rational people would say "why would I do that?"

Comparing paying a FLOSS developer to paying for commercial software doesn't make sense. Companies don't see themselves as funding development either way.


> Nobody wants to wait for a developer to implement the things they want.

And yet they still want them, and things take non-zero time to implement regardless of who is doing it. It's not as if proprietary software appears from whole cloth in zero time containing every feature requested by every customer.

> If they have work to do, they need a solution NOW.

If they have work to do they can do it the same way they did it last week. But when the question comes whether to upgrade to the new version of the proprietary software, you should ask whether it makes more sense to pay the money to do that this year, or stay on the existing version for a year while you use the money that you would have spent and instead get the free software equivalent into a state that it satisfies your needs, then never have to pay for the proprietary software again.

> Then once the purchase has been made, the question of paying someone to work on it is a separate issue. Most rational people would say "why would I do that?"

Because you have twenty or more full-time people using it and if you can make them each even a single digit percentage more efficient on a permanent basis, it becomes highly profitable to hire the software developer that allows that to happen.

> Comparing paying a FLOSS developer to paying for commercial software doesn't make sense. Companies don't see themselves as funding development either way.

What did they think the proprietary software license money was funding?


They probably see it as rent. There is awareness that newer versions may be better, but they pay to use the software.


You could make the same argument about commercial software. The money you pay the developer will go into building features and better quality software that helps your competition as much or more as it helps you. Yes they are also paying, what difference does that make? I don't see why you'd waste time worrying about this in either case.


At least, your competitors will pay too. If it was open source, they could use it without contributing back.


The big issue with blender compared to some of the other options on the market is the cluttered ui- it doesn't look friendly to artists/tech artists and the controls are very unintuitive for someone who uses other 3d softwares.

I'm curious as to why the community working on it hasn't taken steps to change this- the software is equally if not more functional than alternatives like Maya and making it a bit more familiar to industry professionals could go a long way


The "source available" movement was already a thing back in old days, before the rise of GPL.

I bought plenty of commercial software, specially developer tools, that had source available on the installation floppies.

If anything we are turning back to those days, after many are starting to realize how hard it is to keep a business living from donations and occasional consulting gigs.


I think it's more about vendor support. There's a big difference between having a person on your payroll who can add a feature and having a help desk and applications engineers who are under contract to make sure the software works for you.


[flagged]


Could you please stop posting unsubstantive comments and/or flamebait to Hacker News so we don't have to ban you again?

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I guess I just wish you guys would break down what you feel is unsubstantive "and/or flamebait". I feel like A LOT of assumptions about a fairly articulate comment are needed to make that conclusion. A quick re-reading I think that you made assumptions about who the spouse is, assumptions about Africa, or maybe misreading the black hole part when the context is Africa. Super meta vicariously offended someone expecting other people to be vicariously offended, while foundation directors and recipients in African countries aren't offended at all?

The real question being: was the comment inaccurate? Can we just discuss that? I know how Foundations and Donor Advised Funds make their decisions, people that aspire to support open source dont have the discretion.

Everytime I ask for clarity I just get immediately shadowbanned like "this guy questioned our authority thats the last straw"


The idea of that comment being accurate or not doesn't even arise. Is anyone going to do a statistically significant survey of "large backers for open source donations"? Even if you did, you wouldn't get access to their conversations with their spouses, nor will anyone give you accurate information about what they want to "pretend to be". So there's no question of such a comment being a serious contribution to discussion. What it does fit—begging your pardon—is the genre of internet bullshit: someone making up a grand, provocative generalization because they're good at making up grand, provocative generalizations, that being the craft that a certain sort of internet commenter works on perfecting. If you post in that genre to HN, we're going to moderate you, because there's no thoughtful conversation to be had there—one can only pile on or fight back. It's a move in a game that doesn't lead to more interesting moves. That's what I mean by unsubstantive in this context. As for flamebait, you could start by not making casually insulting dismissals like "drop money into a black hole in Africa". Saying that signals that you're trolling. Maybe you didn't mean to? Ok, but that actually doesn't matter, because an internet comment consists of how people read it and the effects that it has.

Let's look at it the other way. Let's say your intention is to contribute to thoughtful conversation and that you indeed know a lot about "how foundations make their decisions". I'm quite willing to believe that. In that case, though, you should make your contribution in a 180-degree different way. You need to explain what you know in terms that aren't grandiose and provocative, but rather, scrupulously accurate. You need to explain how you know it. You need to tie it to the topic at hand in a way that explains why it's relevant. And you need to somehow include the limits of what you know, to leave some oxygen for anyone who might know different things than you do. All that is not hard to do, but it requires a different genre of comment: more information, less grandstanding.


It has nothing to do with "employee vanity" and that's one of the stupidest things I've ever heard.

There's a simple reason Blender doesn't see much use in film production: Support. There is no way the Blender Foundation could provide the level of support that a company like Autodesk does. When you run into problems you call your enterprise support team and get it fixed. This is why you pay them the big bucks. Their support staff does nothing but fix problems, where anyone that you could hire to do the same would necessarily spend most of their time sitting on their ass doing nothing since stuff just doesn't go wrong all that often. That alone will keep Blender out of a LOT of shops, especially those that are just large enough to be working on major projects.

The idea that a company should just hire a programmer they don't otherwise need just so they can make some software work is asinine. That's like saying a home builder should hire a full time auto mechanic instead of taking their work vehicles to the shop when they break down. No, hiring a guy will not offset the cost of purchasing licenses and support. This is especially true when you hit one of those moments where things get so shredded that the cost of enterprise support seems like a bargain.

There are other, more technical, issues that keep Blender from being used much. Chief among them is that it isn't really exceptional at anything. It's not uncommon for things to be modeled in one program, textured in another, then imported into another for animation, and then brought into a final one for lighting and rendering. There are better programs for modeling than Blender. There are better programs for rendering, texturing, animation. Blender is oatmeal. It's there, it works, but it's not really great at anything and as a result has never found a niche.

Because, ultimately, that's what it's all about.


> The idea that a company should just hire a programmer they don't otherwise need just so they can make some software work is asinine

Weren't you just saying the magic ingredient was "support"? Do you believe a first line help-desk is going to provide better support than a guy whose livelihood depends on it and you can call to your desk?

>That's like saying a home builder should hire a full time auto mechanic

In this specific case, it's more like fairly large transporters having their own mechanics, which they have, because it's cheaper, and better, and faster, and generally very convenient all round.


I worked as one of several in-house Blender developers on "Next Gen". In some cases, were able to get fixed builds into our artists' hands in within 24h of a bug report. I have not had such a quick turnaround with any commercial software vendor yet.

https://www.netflix.com/title/80988892


>Do you believe a first line help-desk is going to provide better support than a guy whose livelihood depends on it and you can call to your desk?

I can guarantee you there are no top-level VFX houses or game developers that ever speak to first-line support.

If you're not top level you have no need to waste money on a programmer that will likely be sitting on his ass 23/7. No, that isn't a typo. The vast majority of the time these systems work as intended. When they don't, who do you think is going to respond better? The multitude of professionals that are paid to work on this code day in and day out... or Steve, who spends most of his time pretending he isn't shopping for waifu pillows? WE KNOW IT'S YOU, STEVE. CLEAR YOUR BROWSER HISTORY.


uh, couldn't a (or multiple) blender foundation(s) sell support? the software remaining FOSS, but feature requests / bug fixes being paid services. Feature and bug attention would be driven by the big commercial users, and the community would profit. Since the shops can choose which blender support team they buy support from, they get competitive pricing too.


I try to say libre software rather than Free Software, and I wish the FSF would back the libre term fully.

When RMS is giving a speech, he has an opportunity to expound on what's now wordplay about "free software", to a captive audience that's perhaps already receptive or prepared to listen.

But low-level grassroots advocacy opportunities often happen in contexts in which people are talking for some other purpose, and if you only say "free software", and they don't already know what you mean, you're actually working against your goal. People who don't know what "free software" means naturally assume you mean software for which they don't pay money. If you instead say "libre software", it's not misleading, and if they don't know, and they care, they can ask you about it, or look it up.

(I suspect it would've been better to fully embrace the "libre" term before an office suite was branded that. Now we have a new potential source of confusion, such as "Yes, I already tried Libre, but liked Office better". But I still usually feel more effective saying "libre software" than "free software". And, in practice, I end up saying "open source" perhaps the majority of the time, even when I'm thinking libre specifically, because "open source" is more established than "libre", perhaps because the FSF keeps saying "free".)


I'm a soon-to-be third year CS student. If I started to use the term "libre software" I'd be ridiculed to hell and back. I think you overestimate the receptiveness of developers.


I'm not sure how to interpret your reply in the context of what the parent is saying. Of course if it's not common to use the term then people will find it odd, out of place or maybe even pretentious. If some influential people manage to push it, eventually it'll be accepted.

If our industry as a whole managed to utter words like "cloud computing", "webscale" or "full stack" with a straight face I really think "libre software" shouldn't be that out of reach.


Sure, if a term becomes mainstream it's use is obvious. If you need to explain the connotations of a word in a lengthy forum post it's a pretty good indicator the use of the word is not adviced unless you are a tredn setter. If Elon Musk started to use the word libre software it might become a common enough term. If I use the word libre software I would have to first explain the word 90% of the time and become embarrased for an awkward and pointless use of an obscure term 85% of the time.


>If you need to explain the connotations of a word in a lengthy forum post it's a pretty good indicator the use of the word is not adviced

That is the current reality with the word "free". Pretty much every HN/Reddit submission on free software will have this discussion, with plenty of people disagreeing with the use of the word "free". Unfortunately, the usual response is simply a denial of reality: "Those who don't oppose the word 'free' have an ulterior anti-free agenda" or some similar sentiment.


I think the following analogue is apt: lots of people drink coffee in the post-Columbian world. When you order coffee and sugar most of the 8 billion people on the planet understand what you are talking about. However, if starbucks does not exist nobody understand what frappucino is. You can have the drink and have a very active internet group of frappucino afficionados, but despite the fact you know thousands of frappucinistas, still somehow the concept does not escape your internet sorority to a popular fame.

You've tried ordering the frappucino at the local diner, patiently explaining the merits of this fantastic bewerage, convinced by the zeal of your fellows that this thing is the best thing to happen to coffee bean ever. To no avail.

Or let's make this even more concrete. You are an english nobleman trying to order coffee in venice in 1614. No can do, coffee arrived in venice in 1615. Unless you know someone specific you cannot explain coffee to most people in venice 1614. In 1615 everyone knows, or think they know what it is, as clergymen banned coffee only little bit after it arrived...

My point is, you can have a very good idea but ideas don't spread by the merit of their goodness. I mean, we've know decades what we are doing to the biosphere but only now the large population is taking notice as shit starts to actually it the fan.

So people who discuss libre software fervently might be right, but that still does not mean you achieve anything by prosetylizing the concept to your employer.

Last analogue: You were stolen from Senegal and now are planting cotton in Georgia. A guy called Sam claims he owns you and will beat you if you try to leave. You are convinced slavery is wrong and that no one should be able to own another human being. Most of you fellow slaves agree but somehow you've failed to convince Sam and the rest of his farmer friends.


You've written a lengthy comment explaining the problem with using the word libre, while completely neglecting the problem with the word "free", which is what my comment is about. Attacking a position I'm not advocating is not fruitful.

We have a long history of using the word "free". The problems with the word are not hypothetical - it's there in the history - to the point that it divides the free software community.


Don't forget "serverless"


I personally will start using "libre" instead of "free" in relation to "free as in freedom" software. However, my comment was meant to exemplify the mentality I see at my university.

It's a mentality of "eh, it works". Of the, at this point, 50+ people I've talked to about software licensing about 3 put any merit in the libre approach. That's not scientific nor representative, but to me it's highly discouraging. Whenever my friend, who recently saw RMS talk live, talks about libre software I notice other students roll their eyes.

To be honest, I don't think most people, students or otherwise, are really even aware of what libre software and the GPL is - let alone think it's something worth investing time and energy into.


Oh wow, "full stack" is now not only unfashionable, but considered so ridiculous as to be laughable? "Cloud" I get, it has always been a nonsensical marketing term, but "full stack" at least has honest roots in the term LAMP.

I still provision my own Linux (VPS) servers, administer MariaDB on them and string it all together with PHP and sprinkle in non-trivial Javascrpt for UI and graphing. My company is profitable, customers are happy, and my software feeds 2 families well.

My methods are antiquated, sure, but if me telling people I'm a full stack developer is laughable/wrong, then I'm truly lost.


That's not what I was saying, I was pointing out weird or bombastic expressions that entered our collective technical/marketing lingo. Whether they are still relevant or not is not the point. "Cloud computing" is almost comical in its childishness when you think about it for a minute.

"Full stack" is a bit of a pretentious nitpick on my part, I actually hesitated putting it in there but couldn't resist. I'm an embedded developer who does a good amount of low level/bare metal work, so when I hear about engineering positions requiring being able to do basic Linux sysadmin + write some Python/PHP/JS/HTML/CSS/... referred to as "full stack" I always want to arrogantly point out that this is actually quite a long way away from the "full" stack. I guess it's just an other symptom of web technologies at large eating a huge portion of software development.


I always understood the term "full stack" to refer to a developer who has tried (and mastered some of) many different technologies and roles, including embedded, system, sysadmin, backend, desktop frontend, web frontend, DB stored procedures... It doesn't necessarily mean that such a person would be immediately proficient in a given technology (that depends on their recent experience), but given a few months' time they would produce solid code in any of these areas, and within a year they would be proficient in it.

In my understanding it has more to do with a person's ability to learn, or lack of fear from learning, if you wish.

Of course I have met my share of "full stack" devs (PHP + JS), but that's the same as with "senior" devs... Having a job title and being one is not the same thing.


Yeah, I consider myself "full stack" because I actively learn different types of software development that are outside of my current role, which is web front-end and backend (mostly Go and Postgres). I am proficient in s variety of languages, platforms, etc (e.g I love messing with embedded devices), and prefer to advertise my flexibility over whatever area I feel I am best at.

I've met quite a few who are happy specializing and essentially restricting themselves to a couple of technologies. When they call themselves "full stack", I get a bit annoyed, since I feel it should mean more than that.

So yeah, if you give me a month, I'm sure I can become productive in any given stack, and given a year, I'll be mostly indistinguishable from a specialist.


I had assumed “the cloud” comes from the visual shorthand of representing “arbitrary network resources somewhere” as an actual cloud in diagrams of networking systems. I recall this from early 2000s CS curriculum, predating it’s prevalence in industry marketing, though I’m sure it had been common well before then.


I never uttered "full stack" with a straight face. Actually, in the last interview I had with a CEO where he asked if I was a "full stack developer" I just laughed.


I don't get it - what's laughable about the idea of someone who can write both the front-end and back-end of a web application?

I know people who do that in practice.


Yeah, I can do that too. And a LITTLE bit more.


So what do you mean? That anyone can do this? I don't really know anything about front-end web development, so I couldn't do full-stack, and it isn't the case that anyone could.

I still can't understand why you think it's such a hilarious question that you laugh out loud about it?


Eh, I would absolutely say "yes" to that, and qualify it by what that means for me:

- practical experience with embedded devices - popular databases - web frontend APIs and common frameworks - popular backed platforms - Dev OPs and other types of automation

A lot of developers specialize, and relatively few branch out from that. I use the term because I don't want to be stuck in a single role.


Exactly this. It’s fitting that the term “full stack developer” came from the same guy that made geek merit badges a thing.


Most CS students aren't developers and haven't yet been bitten hard enough by bad licensing, in fact, they likely hope to profit greatly creating proprietary software. If you believe in something, embrace it, if you're right, time will bring people around. When it comes to "libre", the need for such a distinction is supported by thousands of real life examples, over decades, of users getting burned hard by bad licensing, even "open source" ones.


This is odd considering how relatively rare pre-packaged, proprietary software that makes boat loads of money actually is. CS students today are exposed to a lot more open source (look at what comes with a $5 hosting account) and SaaS, where the money is, today than 20, or even 10, years ago. Unless you're referring to games, but even the the big money making games make money on in-app purchases than with the sale of the software itself.


I disagree. It’s likely they go about almost all their day-to-day activities using proprietary (or at least not libre) software. Their primary OS (likely Windows or Mac), word processor, spreadsheets, presentations (Office or Google), email client, virtually every app on their phone (either platform). If they are in any non-CS, technical field, it is for sure using proprietary software (MATLAB, Autodesk, Adobe, ...). If they are in CS or a dev, they are probably using cloud platforms, GitHub, CI, an IDE, ...

Programming languages and code are so unique in being freely available, even the infrastructure around the them is proprietary.


Same here. I use libre software (perhaps with a tinge of irony). I don’t mind having a laugh about it every now and again. RMS himself is a pretty ridiculous figure.


And yet functionality, performant, et al.


How often do you use the term "free software" in the FSF sense?


How often does anyone care in the first place?


Why would you be ridiculed? (I could try to guess, based on what I've heard from some undergrads I've talked with recently about it, but I'd like to know the actual reasons in your case.)


I would use that term, but then I would do the rest of the speech in Spanish, just for consistency.


I considered this position some years ago, but concluded in the time it takes to explain that libre is a word from another language that means 'free in the sense of speech, not beer', I could just say I'm using the word free in the sense of speech, not beer.

These days I don't think the problem is the use of the ostensibly ambiguous word 'free', so much as that people (generic) don't really value freedom (or privacy) as much as we would like them to.


What about “freedom software“? I know it’s grammatically incorrect but it sends the right message.


Speaking as an Australian, a “Freedom” prefix makes it sound like yet another cheesy American grab at patriotism.

(This may come across as snark, but it seriously isn’t. “Freedom” anything has been polluted, IMHO)


And considering the US Department of Energy just started labeling fossil fuels as "molecules of freedom" and "freedom gas"(no joke)[1] it looks like that only gets worse.

[1]: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2019/05/us-department-of...


Molecules of freedom?

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/may/29/energy-depa...

Perhaps bytes of freedom?


Sounds like Australia needs some Freedom(TM).


Right, like Freedom units. The temperature is 74F, the F is for freedom


Speaking as an American, that's exactly what I first thought too.


Fair point. For what it’s worth I’m British (but expat in the States).


I generally refer to the general cause/movement as "software freedom". I sometimes call the software itself "freedom-respecting software".


like the "molecules of freedom" or "freedom gas" but then "programs of freedom" or "freedom software" ?


"Generic" people probably only come into contact with FLOSS principles when the plane reboots the entertainment center and they accidentally catch a glimpse of the Linux penguin in the boot screen.

On the near zero chance they remember the penguin and ask a free software zealot about it, they'd likely get an earful about how that is a symbol taken from the 2nd Presbyterian Church of Code, and please don't confuse that with the symbology from the 1st Presbyterian Church of Code across the street from it.[1]

The only FLOSS orgs I know that conceivably care about that generic person sitting in coach are Mozilla and Whisper Systems. And both are small time players compared to their proprietary competition.

Given that, it is extraordinary that normal people know anything at all about digital freedom and privacy.

[1] Just remembered that Linux is GPLv2 licensed, and that the religious zealotry would probably be about Linux not being GNU, but rather a "final" piece that was "good enough" to use in conjunction with other GPLvs licensed OS tools. So it's even worse-- this is like explaining to someone that they're reading the right book in the wrong wing of the right church. I love FLOSS so much.


Yeah the analogy I use is "Feel free to use my garage and tools any time you like, just don't take my stuff and sell it"

Unclear about "don't use my tools for monetery gain"


Actually free licenses do not restrict selling the software.


"Libre" is not an easy word for Anglophones to say, because the intense ambiguities of English orthography give you a few tentative choices of how it might sound (including having to attempt a French "r") and hints that they may all be wrong.

It's easier to pronounce if you're a romance speaker, but still not consistent, again due to the location of that "r." "Free" is pretty easy to say for everyone, and recognizable whether your "r" is a flap, is French, or is the English "r" which sounds like a humming engine.


Does it matter if you pronounce it wrong - half the words I use for internet things I'd never heard anyone say until I'd used them for a long time.

"my SQL" vs "my-sequel" (I use the former), NginX I still pronounce as "en-jinx", similarly GIF.

If people call it "lib-ruh" software it doesn't really matter as long as the meaning is conveyed.


To give the FSF some credit, they would have to go through a ton of hoops and PR changing their name to the LSF if they got behind the idea 100%. :)

Not that you are wrong. The "free as in freedom, not as in beer" trope has just gotten too tiresome. It's a losing battle. The only solution is taking control of the language, and Libre helps to achieve this.

Going forward I will give some thought to always using this term when appropriate.


On the other hand freedom is a really nice word that everyone loves whereas "libre" is some fake French or something that you have to try to pronounce with some kind of rolled r like is that really going to succeed in the American marketplace of ideas


It isn’t fake. Libre is a real french word that means “free to do [something]” or “free from [something],” along with a few other meanings.

I do think the pronunciation issue is going to hamper its adoption, though. If it’s pronounced as it is in French, it’s very similar to how we say the zodiac sign “libra,” but if you don’t know it’s french, it could easily be Spanish/Italian/Latin and be pronounced “leebray.”

The fact that it’s not an easy word to know how to pronounce means that people who have only read it will be hesitant to use it in conversation or public speech.


In fact, it is also a Spanish word, roughly pronounced "leebray" (in Italian and Latin it's different, though).

In fact, just learned now that it's supposed to be loaned from French, I had always assumed it to be from Spanish (I'm biased because I'm Spanish).


> just learned now that it's supposed to be loaned from French

Is it? According to https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html

‘We sometimes call it “libre software,” borrowing the French or Spanish word for “free” as in freedom’


Exactly. The "French Way" thing is an affect that's frequently mocked on other forums, see https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/le


I also don't like the term "free" in the context of money involved. I think it makes instant and, imo, associations in the brain that are not helpful for the project in question.

Rarely are projects of any meaningful size actually free. Someone is paying to afford the hosting/dev/etc. Sometimes that payment is in the form of donations from larger organizations. Often a mix of that and user donations. However I think it's important that we don't so easily undermine a projects funding. Especially projects as great as Blender.

I think I just long for the idea that we all recognized that many of these projects we use could do well with some basic coffee money from us all. Something somewhat like Github is setting up. $3/m to a project I make money off of means nothing to me, but from a couple thousand users it would be amazing for the sole project owner.

It's complex, I know. There's pros and cons to a lot of funding talk. Nevertheless, I just want to see great projects succeed. As Blender is.


Isn't it fascinating that the English language doesn't have a distinction between the social meaning of free and the economic, in that these meanings are meshed into the same word?


Every language has its quirks. French doesn't distinguish between ape and monkey (singe) -- the famous French novel "La Planète des singes" known from the various American movies in the original and remade "Planet of the Apes" series could just as well be translated as "Planet of the Monkeys". Similarly, German doesn't really distinguish between science and other academic subjects -- "Wissenschaft" can mean science, but also includes much of what people in English call the humanities.


I suspect there is a point you want to make. It is already a bit redundant to say that languages don't have perfect vocabulary coverage. In my post I was alluding to the formation of language corresponding to the formation of culture, and this specific case of English.


What does “economic”, in opposition to “social”, mean in this context?


Economic as in it doesn't cost money; social as in social/political freedom to do with it what you please.


Is it not free and gratis?


"gratis" is not a common english word either; you'd only use it to make this exact distinction.


Maybe if they'd called it freedom software?


This is the clear winner: it's cheeky, poignant, compatible with current acronyms, and pithy. Communicates very clear intent and doesn't confuse. "Libre" is the opposite of all of those things.

Adopting the term Freedom Software can be done by you, today, at no cost. Everyone will understand what it means.

Messaging matters. Call it Freedom Software :)


That's been claimed by "freedom fries" I'm afraid.


When you say Free Software, people will listen, because it sounds like free stuff for them. The speaker has an opportunity to clarify later.

When you say "libre software" people who don't already know what it is are probably done listening before you get a chance to make a point about anything.


I mean it is called the Free Software Foundation. Not the Libre Software Foundation.


To me free software means, it is free to get and free to modify.

Why so complicated?


But you overlooked the part that makes this complicated and sparks this whole debate. It's free to get and free to modify, but can you sell what you modified.


Wtf


When you say free software, you have to clarify, 'free as in freedom, not as in beer', libre doesn't have that double meaning.


Libre doesn't have a meaning at all, in English, so you'll have to explain that as well. In other languages that I know there is no such problem because the two meanings of "free" are clearly disambiguated by two different words.


The point is: with 'free', people might think they know what it means (it doesn't cost any money), 'libre' is context-specific.


In English 'libre' does mean free, but it means free as in 'free will'. It's not the same meaning as 'libre' in other languages. So it is confusing.

https://www.oed.com/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/107929


I don't have my OED to hand to check, I'd be surprised if it wasn't in there though. I had come across the word prior to my introduction to free software, I'd come across gratis also.


Not that it disproves you, but the only reference I could find in the online version is "vers libre", meaning "free verse", of course. I don't have a paper version to check, and I'm not a native speaker, so I'll have to trust you on this one :)


Offtopic, but I've been wondering where people are getting all this free beer from? Where I come from beer is quite expensive.


The problem is many people in the free software community enjoy confusing their audience and then take delight in pointing out their clever wordplay.

No reasonable person would decide that the best way to cut through a complicated overlap of a technical discussion a moral issue with many subtleties was with a pun, of all things.


free and gratis difference but English has two versions of free ie free and gratis..Libre is gratis


Are you sure? It's the opposite in latin.


Gratis as in without any associated cost and fri (free) as in without restrictions is the usage in Swedish as well.


Thankfully Estonian has the difference as well, without cost being "tasuta", with freedoms being "vaba".


Polish has darmowe (as in beer) and wolne (as in freedom). Ironically, wolne also means slow.


Can someone provide some context for this post?

Are there calls to change Blender's license?

Are add-on developers violating GPL? The post mentions that a bridge between open source and proprietary needs to be open source but the add-on itself doesn't?

Is it just a "how dare you sell products closed source products on top of blender?"

The business model of providing support is all well and good but it's just one. If the software is super easy to use then why would you pay?


Somebody recently launched a new site "Blender Depot" which hosts a bunch of Blender add-ons and provides a batch install feature.

Some of the add-ons on this site are commercial plugins available for sale by their authors. All Blender plugins have to be GPL so this sort of redistribution is legal but some of these authors have been rather upset about it. So a large argument ensued on the Blender forums about the GPL, the ethics of software redistribution even when copyright law says it is okay, etc.


I think the referenced forum discussions are [0][1] for anyone else trying to find them?

[0] https://blenderartists.org/t/introducing-blender-depot-brows...

[1] https://blenderartists.org/t/yet-another-discussion-about-th...


Thank you for providing the context.


Thank you for providing this context.

> All Blender plugins have to be GPL

Didn't the blog article just point out an obvious loophole of turning the addon into a bridge to an external non-GPL module, and putting some critical functionality into the non-GPL part?

Of course, developing such addons will be harder, but even moving just some pointless, trivial, easily rewritten code to the non-GPL part would force people who want to redistribute it to rewrite that part.

Or even completely subverting the spirit (but probably not the law) of the GPL by building a small non-GPL "DRM server" that is called and checked from the GPL'd module, and having the open source part refuse to work if this server isn't present? Of course, anyone would be invited to take the GPL'ed code and remove the checks, but it would shift the cost from "redistribute the version for free" to creating and maintaining a fork, which might be enough to get people to pay instead.


I don't think using an API of a GPL software means your software "has to be" GPL. For example, not all software running on Linux using Linux APIs (syscalls) is GPL.


Linux has an explicit exception in its license so that user space software doesn’t fall under GPL. https://github.com/torvalds/linux/blob/master/LICENSES/excep...

> NOTE! This copyright does not cover user programs that use kernel services by normal system calls - this is merely considered normal use of the kernel, and does not fall under the heading of "derived work".


That's not an actual exception but a note clarifying what the GPLv2.0 covers.


Linux’s exception is because you need its header files to compile c code that uses the kernel. If someone created an extension that provided a json api to blendr, it seems that would need to be open source but callers would not since nothing would need to be compiled against gpl code.


Whether or not "using an API" requires your software to be GPL depends on how it's implemented.

Going by GNU's description of what does and does not extend the GPL requirement[1] and how Blender plugins works, to me at least it seems they very clearly have to be GPL. Unless someone took the route that is common in closed source Linux drivers of having a small open source module that communicates with a binary blob where the majority of the actual interesting code is, but I have not seen any Blender plugins like that.

The Linux kernel actually provides a specific license exemption[2] for the headers that makes software using syscalls not bound by the GPL.

[1] https://www.gnu.org/licenses/gpl-faq.en.html#GPLAndPlugins

[2] https://www.kernel.org/doc/html/v4.18/process/license-rules....


Actually this is exactly what we did with the renderman addon for Blender. And AFAIK how other renderer addons work.

Frankly if you want to be doing any meaningful computation in your addon it probably makes sense to go this route and have the closed source part in C while the addon "bridge" is python.


>I don't think using an API of a GPL software means your software "has to be" GPL.

We should GPL the software that is calling the Api of the GPL software.

>not all software running on Linux using Linux APIs (syscalls) is GPL

This is because linus Torvold(Other contributors) has given the syscall exception along with GPL-2.0. That's why there exists all kind of proprietary software running on top linux os.

Note: I am an open source officer I deal on this topic very often


It's an area of open legal debate, with a spectrum of what it means to be using an API and what constitutes a derived work.


From what I can see, Blender is trying to pretend it's a hard-and-fast rule, and they are requiring addon authors to label their work as open source to sell on their store.


> From what I can see, Blender is trying to pretend it's a hard-and-fast rule

Well yeah it's a debate - I guess this is their side of the debate. Arguing for something isn't 'pretending'.


I think if it did mean that, Linux would be abandoned by most major companies overnight, as you could not develop non-GPL binaries for it; I do however believe Blender is in the wrong here.


Maybe all the confusion seen in this thread about what does and doesn't fall under GPL is the reason people take issue with it, moreso than what it actually does.


I remember such story with «Blender-OSM» addon by Vladimir Elistratov.[0]

[0] https://github.com/vvoovv/blender-osm/issues/42


> Some of the add-one on this site are commercial plugins available for sale by their authors. All Blender plugins have to be GPL

Just a side-note about the distinctions between open-source, free software, and commercial software. The US government considers any software that has a license and is available to the public “commercial”. So all GNU software in their view is commercial. It’s not a legal distinction of whether money is charged, it’s whether the software has a license and is public.

U.S. law governing federal procurement (U.S. Code Title 41, Chapter 7, Section 403) defines "commercial item" as including "Any item, other than real property, that is of a type customarily used by the general public or by non-governmental entities for purposes other than governmental purposes (i.e., it has some non-government use), and (i) Has been sold, leased, or licensed to the general public; or (ii) Has been offered for sale, lease, or license to the general public ...".

https://dodcio.defense.gov/open-source-software-faq/#Q:_Is_o...


i noticed the same problem with the use of the term proprietary because that simply means non-standard. there is plenty of non-standard Free Software. and there is also plenty of commercially sold Free Software (RHEL for example)

the only term that i am aware of that really works is non-free.


"commercial software" has a well-used and generally accepted definition, regardless of how the DOD procurement rules define the term.


as more and more companies sell FOSS licensed software, that definition is going to change. commercial software as the opposite of Free Software worked as long as the majority of Free Software products were generally free as in beverage in addition to having a free license. "Commercial Open Source" is a thing. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_open_source_applica...


> Some of the add-ons on this site are commercial plugins available for sale by their authors. All Blender plugins have to be GPL so this sort of redistribution is legal

Only if the people between blender depot has a copy distributed under the gpl? Granted, the most likely way they'd get a copy would be under the gpl (get a copy from someone that purchased the plug-in).

But it does not immediately follow that its trivial to legally redistribute the latest copy of a gpl plug-in, unless you purchase new versions as they are released.


Sounds similar to the argument about WordPress, third-party plugins, and the GPL from a while back.


So the classic case of "I chose GPL because everybody chooses GPL because it's the most used licence but I forgot to read what it actually says and I'm upset"


I suspect not so much I forgot to read then "I hope nobody is gonna use parts of license I don't like, oh shit" e.g. wanting it both ways.


Well, to be fair, I've been there myself. It's an eye opening experience to put it mildly.


I think this is for the recent surge of quasi-open-source license changes some products have gone through. That's why they underline the difference between free software and open source.

Recently people started saying that the OSI's Open Source Definition is restrictive and obsolete, that having the sources available is enough, that it's not a problem to restrict usage, etc... That's why it's important to stress "free as in freedom" in free software and not "open as in you can see the source" in open source.


In a world without intellectual property, source available would equal free software.

I think the FSF has tried to squash too many semantic, technical and legal subtleties into the GPL, the words free, libre, etc.


No it wouldn't, for software to be "Free software" it must be GPL-or-other-copyleft-license licensed, which aside from being trivially impossible in a world without intellectual property laws, also has different outcomes than placing the source in the public domain. For example nothing prevents me from taking some public domain code and including it in my closed-source application, but the GPL forbids this.


No, for free software to be "Free Software" it must respect the Four Freedoms (https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/free-sw.en.html). GPL-or-other-copyleft-license happens to respect them, but so do the Apache, BSDs, MIT and other licenses which are not copyleft.

Note: "Copyleft" as opposed to simply Free Software entails reciprocity, e.g., the "viral" part of the GPL. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyleft


In a world without intellectual property, your closed-source application would be a trade secret that would quickly get out.


>The post mentions that a bridge between open source and proprietary needs to be open source but the add-on itself doesn't?

The post isn't very clear, but they way I interpret it is that the Blender add-ons do have to comply with the GPL.

Furthermore, I don't think that's new. Look at the answer in January 2017 to this question [0] on Blender Stackexchange by Jaroslav Jerryno Novotny:

>Blender also includes the Blender Python API, so every piece of code of the addon that uses some Blender Python API must be also licensed under GNU. This only applies to the addon script files or binaries.

Later on, it's clear that compatibility with closed source programs is restricted to sharing files - that is linking is not allowed:

>But you can do something like commercial render engines do: the export plugin is GNU (uses Blender API) and converts scene data to commercial application (ie. renderer) which is not GNU (doesn't use Blender API) and the licenses differ. This works because the addon is not dependent on the non-GNU application.

[0] https://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/72095/license-is...


If you post a long statement like this article and the first response from people is "I don't know what they're talking about or referencing" then you know you've written it very badly.


Or for people who are familiar with your product and industry, and not a general audience.


I don't have any additional context, but the overall style of the post makes it sound to me like it could be talking about a change in the add-on API license or something (in addition to a general pro GPL post). This is the strongest evidence I have:

> I expect that all add-on developers recognize and respect this concept.


From the article:

"And if you think you ‘suffer from piracy’ or find it hard to do business with Free Software? Just distinguish yourselves with the proven successful free/open source business model: provide docs, training, content, frequent updates and support. Your customers will love you!"

Well, then why does Blender need a development fund? [0]

I honestly agree with most of what this article says and I admire the spirit of open source development and the GPL. Still, I don't think it's a viable business model for all of us under all circumstances. People need to be able to make money with their software or otherwise some software just won't be available. I guess that's effectively what this says for the Blender community. Nothing wrong with that at all, just not the way to go for everyone.

[0] https://fund.blender.org/


Yeah. The idea of a world where every piece of software is free and open is a nice one, but unfortunately we live in a society where people have to be compensated for their time in order to live, and doing support won't always cut it.

Edit: To be clear, I'm not downplaying that ideal, only pointing out that at least in the United States it's pretty unrealistic. In some other western countries they don't balk at the idea of public funding for projects that benefit society, and those would be one example of taking steps towards that more idealized world.


Nobody is talking about every piece of software having to be free; if they want to make add-ons that can be sell they should have made those plugins for a software that allows such financing model such creating plugins for Autodesk Maya.


The statement in the article makes it sound as if providing documentation, support, etc. is a somewhat reliable way to get your work on Blender plugins and — implied — on other free and open-source software funded. I guess that's the reason for the impression that this somehow generalizes the statement to a broader software market.

"Your customers will love you!" even implies that this way of doing business is somehow superior to other licensing models.

I'd say: Your customers might love you, but for most projects this is likely also going to translate to "your customers won't pay you".


Why? People want to donate. Would be silly not to take their money and use it to improve the project even more. I would argue that donations is a key part of this style of FOSS business model.


The realty is that donation-based is not a sustainable business model. You basically can't always afford to eat based on it, leave alone to rent an apartment.

Ditto for the much touted GPL “service model” - charging for support and training. Realistically, this just does NOT work for anyone except for RedHat, because otherwise there would’ve been plentful examples everytime this subject surfaces and there’s always none. Also saying this as an ISV with tens of years of experience - making living off GPL-licensed software through secondary services is an absolute suicidal pipe dream. Even the double-licensed model (which is not applicable in Belnder's add-on case) is dramatically inferior to more conventional licensing models.


Then the article should maybe add this to the list of how plugin developers are supposed to fund their operations to support Blender.


> I honestly agree with most of what this article says and I admire the spirit of open source development and the GPL.

If you don't admire the spirit of free software as well / instead, then you may have missed the point of the article.


How is me allegedly not admiring something related to missing "the" point of the article?


Open source is not Free software. The blog post is about how Blender is firmly behind the GPL and free software, which is in opposition to just having available source code without assured user freedoms.


Yeah, I never said that it is :) I honestly don't get the point of your comments, but I think you may not be getting the point of mine either.

To clarify: the article contains advice about how to fund operations for plugin developers. I doubt that it is viable for all plugin developers to fund their operations off of documentation and services. I am just saying that we should be honest and express that funding the development directly will be needed and probably the only way to get it is donations. That's really all I am saying here.


I think a lot of people get confused about that. There are hundreds (probably more) of paid software that offers it's source code up. You can use it to learn from or make improvements if you want but must pay if you want to actually use it.

One example is I was recently messing around with Space Engineers code. Keen software gives opens it up but doesn't mean you can just download the code and get the game for free


That does not comply with the official (OSI) definition of open source and is a misuse of the term. It's a pity that people get away with this and cause this kind of confusion.


The actual Open Source Definition is much like the Free Software Definition, in the letter. A source-available license wouldn't be OSI-approved, so it wouldn't technically be open source.

On the legal side, free software and open source could very well be considered sinonyms (if that makes sense). The actual difference is one of attitude and end-goals.


TFA refers heavily to 'free' as in the freedoms associated with this.

You cite 'open source' as something that you admire.

It's well known that 'free software' describes an attitude that the 'open source' crowd wasn't as keen to embrace, hence the subsequent linguistic wrangling.


The article refers to a "free/open source business model". Even there the terms are used in a somewhat identical fashion.

I really don't see how this kind of linguistic wrangling helps. Instead it kind of diverts from my initial point and drives the discussion into nitpicking.


> The article refers to a "free/open source business model". Even there the terms are used in a somewhat identical fashion.

This is not true.

The word 'free' is used six times in the first paragraph to emphasise the point being made, then they really spell it out for you :

"This freedom is what makes the GNU GPL license so powerful and it is why it’s much more than 'open source'."


> Well, then why does Blender need a development fund?

Why wouldn't they have such a fund? Sponsoring is a viable FLOSS business model, and it heavily overlaps with support (which is discussed in your quote from the blogpost).

The notion that "people" aren't "able to make money" with FLOSS is just a fallacy, and Blender itself is one of the clearest examples of how wrong it is - it was failing as a commercial prospect, and then got "rescued" or "ransomed out" as FLOSS via crowdfunding - one of the earliest crowdfunding initiatives I'm aware of, for that matter; well before there was anything like Kickstarter, Indiegogo etc.


It is not a viable model.

How many people are actually paid by the Blender Foundation for their contributions to the software? How many fewer employees do they have than a company like Autodesk or Maxon?

The simple fact is that FLOSS is the outsourcing of large swathes of development cost to those stupid or interested enough to make something happen for free on their own time.

What do you do when that interest wanes?

You're fucked.


> What do you do when that interest wanes?

What do you do? You pay for support, plausibly via a crowdfunding-like mechanism - continued development and maintenance being something that's encompassed by "paid support", of course. What do you do when interest in a piece of proprietary software wanes and the original developer goes out of business altogether? Never mind, you answered that quite nicely already!

FLOSS is more viable than non-FLOSS in the long run. And we have solid empirical evidence of that, because we still have code from the 1970s and 1980s chugging along nicely as part of our modern Linux distributions. Try that with Windows 10, or even mac OS!

And yet, in the meantime...

> ... How many fewer employees do they [Blender Foundation] have than a company like Autodesk or Maxon?

...how is that supposed to be a bad thing, exactly? It's a lot like measuring the worth of a software project by the LOC of its source code, given a constant or even shrinking set of features.


How is the fact that there is old code in modern Linux distributions suddenly becoming empirical evidence on the viability of a business model? A business model does not become viable because you as the customer are somehow able to work on the project after it is no longer commercially available. By the way: there are a lot of commercial projects having escrow agreements to solve that problem without having to be open source.

I simply don't buy that we all should be living off donations to support our software development. It's utterly clear that only the biggest projects can pull that off, and even there — only to a certain degree, with some notable exceptions (RedHat, Linux).


> I simply don't buy that we all should be living off donations to support our software development.

Most "software development" is internal software that exists simply to solve some organization's bespoke issues, and is not open to the public - FLOSS vs. proprietary is a non-issue there. As far as off-the-shelf, non-internal stuff goes, software maintenance is actually a bigger issue than software development per se, and it's entirely appropriate to say "I will not be putting any effort into maintaining this unless you pay me some real $$$ for the trouble." So, I'm not even sure that we're disagreeing about anything of relevance - except inasmuch as "being able to work on the project - or to sponsor work on the project by third-parties - no matter what" is often very important!


> Most "software development" is internal software that exists simply to solve some organization's bespoke issues

Do you have a source for this?


> The notion that "people" aren't "able to make money" with FLOSS is just a fallacy

Which fallacy?


The one you quoted. Many people make money from open source software.


The comment they’re replying to said “I don't think it's a viable business model for all of us,” not that it’s not a viable model for any of us.

This argument has been going on for a while, but apparently exploded recently.

Im so conflicted about this. I feel like my left brain is fighting my right brain. Or mom and dad are fighting again.

On one hand, I have been a huge blender fan for over a decade and personally would give away anything I developed for it. Even if it were high quality. I am all for this way of doing it. Kind of forcing a level playing field no matter if you are AAA studio or some broke but talented college student making 3d models.

On the other hand I totally get how those add-on devs feel being officially told "Thanks for all your hard work, but if someone takes your add-on and gives it away, it's fine." - These add-on devs can charge users to download the add-on, not for the add-on. I used to believe it wasnt right to charge for the ability to download a 'free' add-on, but after seeing how high quality some of the addons are, I completely feel they deserve some compensation for improving blender even more.

Basically, I don't even know what's right anymore.


What if there were a license that made all hobbyist and educational use free and open source, and all commercial use propriety with kickbacks to devs?

Would that resolve your hemispheric conflict?


This is exactly what open source is not, per definition of the OSI: https://opensource.org/osd, see paragraph 6 "No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor".

What you are proposing is a form of a shared source license.


Here's the text of #6: "The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research."

My thought is not to restrict anyone from doing anything. Rather that, for example, any profit-seeking entity can use any code, but that that profit-seeking entity must pay a standard and proportional fee to the license-holder of that code, generally its author(s) and/or maintainer(s).

Does that qualify as "restricting anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor"? Going by the wording, I would lean toward "no".

Furthermore, while on that page I glanced at the other paragraphs, and I couldn't help but notice that according to #9: "License Must Not Restrict Other Software" and its text: "The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.", the GNU/GPL don't qualify as "open source" software.

It is to laugh.


> My thought is not to restrict anyone from doing anything. Rather that, for example, any profit-seeking entity can use any code, but that that profit-seeking entity must pay a standard and proportional fee to the license-holder of that code, generally its author(s) and/or maintainer(s).

Well, so you are effectively restricting the field of endeavor. People who want to do business with the code licensed this way can no longer do so without having to pay while all others still can use the code freely. I don't think there's much room for interpretation as to whether this fulfills the term "discrimination".

What you can do instead is dual-license your code, offering more "favorable" terms in a second proprietary/commercial license to businesses. However, this usually comes with the caveat that licensees of the commercial license can now do proprietary changes without having to give them back to the community.

> the GNU/GPL don't qualify as "open source" software.

> It is to laugh.

What? I am afraid you are misinterpreting the text and/or confusing the terms of the General Public License. This says you should not place restrictions on the licenses of other software contained on the same medium. It doesn't say anything about derivative work. Why would this mean the GPL doesn't qualify as an open source license?

Here's a list of all OSI approved licenses: https://opensource.org/licenses/alphabetical


My observation is fundamentally that if open source can be cannibalized by profit-seeking entities, it will be so cannibalized.

It’s true that I haven’t comprehensively studied the GPL.

Mostly I’ve observed companies using hundreds, thousands, or millions of hours (depending) of the very hard work of many very smart open source devs in building their own proprietary systems on top and making fucktons of money, none of which is ever seen by the people who made 90 or 95% of their business possible.


> "The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.", the GNU/GPL don't qualify as "open source" software.

May I suggest you first read the license before jumping to the conclusion that the OSI is incompetent at reviewing licenses?

5. Conveying Modified Source Versions.

A compilation of a covered work with other separate and independent works, which are not by their nature extensions of the covered work, and which are not combined with it such as to form a larger program, in or on a volume of a storage or distribution medium, is called an “aggregate” if the compilation and its resulting copyright are not used to limit the access or legal rights of the compilation's users beyond what the individual works permit. Inclusion of a covered work in an aggregate does not cause this License to apply to the other parts of the aggregate.


It’s true that I haven’t comprehensively studied the license.


If only there were a license that made the original project open but allowed you to license derived works in whichever way was most appropriate...


There are such open source licenses: LGPL and MPL for example. These, however, come with their own set of caveats.


That's exactly what Ton is speaking against here, he doesn't want add-ons to have specific licenses but to share the same 'freedom' Blender has.


But game mod developers generally do not think of being financially rewarded for mods they are creating for proprietary games.


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