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Cocognut author mulls open source

By Chris Williams. Published: 13th Feb 2005, 11:22:31 | Permalink | Printable

Options considered as sales fall

Gnutella network motifMarc Warne says he is considering releasing his commercial file sharing application Cocognut as free software. With sales reportedly down to just a few copies a month, Marc contacted users of his Gnutellanet client to gauge their opinion on whether or not freely re-releasing the software is appropriate.

"I would like to open up CocoGnut to other RISC OS users, namely those who don't want to pay for it. I am extremely thankful to all of those who have paid for it, as it has made my university life a lot more affordable, but now that I've got a job, getting 15 every month or so doesn't matter as much," said Marc.

"I'd like more people to continue to use RISC OS without feeling that there's no peer to peer software available for free."

Marc suggested that the application could remain commercial, but with cash from sales going towards charities and online liberty organisations. Alternatively, the software could be released for free without the source code, or with an open source licence. Marc says he's siding with the latter two options, although is still weighing up the decision.

Users on the Cocognut mailing list said they would support Marc's decision to release the software for free. While a GPL licence for Cocognut would allow other programmers to work on the software, Marc says he would prefer a BSD licence. Other suggestions from users include developing a 'Pro' version of Cocognut, which remains commercial, that supports other file sharing networks, such as the ever popular BitTorrent.

Marc adds that development of Cocognut will continue, regardless of what happens.

Cocognut was first released in April 2003 and is the platform's only working file sharing software that allows users to swap media, such as music and videos, over the Internet. Unlike classic file sharing networks like Napster, the Gnutella network is decentralised, which makes it difficult for authorities, furious at the sharing of copyrighted materials, to shut down the network.

Links

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Discussion

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The implication in this article is that a GPL License would allow people to work on the software, but a BSD license wouldn't, which is not the case. There are differences in what people can do with the source code under each license, and whether people are obliged to release changes to the code if they release an updated binary (GPL yes, BSD no), but both open up the code to anyone that wishes to play with it.

There's a time and place for both licenses. I've released code under both licenses (and indeed have moved one largish project from GPL to BSD, as it's easier for people at corporations to get approval to work on BSD projects than GPL projects).

I suspect Chris knows all this, it's just that the tone of the sentence used doesn't :)

 is a RISC OS UserDougal on 13/2/05 12:00PM
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From what he said on the mailing list, it was because he didn't need the money now that he has finished uni, and that he wanted more people to be able to use the software, not the fall in sales that has prompted this idea to make it free software.

 is a RISC OS UserAndrewDuffell on 13/2/05 12:09PM
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Last I ehard, it needed updating to be compatible the with majority of other clients in use now. I don't know if that's changed in the last few months so I could be speaking out of turn, but I haven't seen any announcements since then.

If that would happen, I'd be pleased :)

 is a RISC OS Userjohn on 13/2/05 2:38PM
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It may seem strange, but it's possible that keeping Cocognut commercial will help the market more in terms of credibility than making it open source. Arguably the availability of commercial software is a measure of a market's success.

I'm not (yet) a Cocognut user, but the suggestion of a 'Pro' versions sounds like a good idea to me.

 is a RISC OS Userflypig on 13/2/05 4:38PM
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Perhaps a freeware version to get more people interested and a commercial 'Pro' version (subsidised?) for the keener communicators are the options I prefer.

 is a RISC OS Userjlavallin on 13/2/05 8:00PM
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Great that it's even being considered, hopefully more people will open up their software so that others can fix/32bit/upgrade/use bits of it.

The original Bittorrent program's in Python, does it work on RISC OS already? There's a console version too.

 is a RISC OS Usermavhc on 13/2/05 8:08PM
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Regarding open source licenses, I'm not open sourcing CocoGnut in the short term, but if I did, I would use a BSD-like license rather than GPL (which I think is *far* too restrictive).

CocoGnut's development version is vastly improved from the latest release. Trust me, it will be a lot more interoperable, but I want to keep details closed for now.

AndrewDuffell is right in saying that it is not the slow sales that is prompting my ideas for releasing it as free. It is because I'd like more people to use the software and it'd help promote RISC OS.

I'm still unsure about whether to release a free and 'Pro' version (free version will NOT be ad supported), or whether to just release the whole program as free. Either way, support will definitely be prioritied to those who pay/donate. I'd welcome more discussion on here or via e-mail to me as to what the best move would be.

 is a RISC OS Usercocodude on 15/2/05 12:02PM
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As a current user of the software, I'd say the best way forward would be a cutdown free version, with a fully featured Pro version.

 is a RISC OS Usersa110 on 16/2/05 12:53PM
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There is a certain irony that a peer-to-peer file sharing application should have a commercial licence!

 is a RISC OS Userrob on 17/2/05 5:01PM
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lol - excellent point :)

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 17/2/05 6:15PM
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looks like someone's using lol as a username :)

 is a RISC OS UserGulli on 17/2/05 6:15PM
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@rob: I do not agree. Any tool can be misused. P2P file sharing clients can be used to exchange files wich do not have a copyright on them or whose author allows free use and copying of the content, as is the case with GPL and BSD licensed software for example. For larger packages like OpenOffice or complete Linux distributions this might be the distribution path of the future. After all, why should the author pay for the traffic on his servers, when he could simply publish a hash-key?

 is a RISC OS UserJGZimmerle on 17/2/05 11:38PM
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