I’ve been a fan of free things for a long time, whether it be software or web sites. “If it’s for free, it’s for me.” Scanning through my list of installed programs and bookmarked web sites, I find the following.
Note: The list below includes free software that is not a free version of commercial software. As an example, Grisoft‘s free software is excluded, as those are feature-limited versions of commercial software.
- CastleProject (MonoRail, et. al.)
- FileZilla (FTP client)
- Cropper (screen capture)
- Launchy (keystroke launcher)
- Firefox (plus many add-ins)
- NAnt (build tool)
- NUnit (unit testing)
- Notepad2 (notepad replacement)
- NLog and log4Net (logging frameworks)
- Reflector (.Net analyzer/decompiler)
- OpenOffice (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.)
- Multiple IEs (different IE versions on one OS)
- Sandcastle Help File Builder
- Subversion (source control)
- TortoiseSVN (Explorer integration for Subversion)
- AnkhSVN (Visual Studio integration for Subversion)
- WinMerge (visual diff tool)
- Paint.Net (image editing)
- Snippet Compiler (quick .Net coding environment)
- CSFBL (online baseball simulation and a shameless plug)
There’s many more than those listed above, as well — those are just the ones I was able to identify quickly.
Most of those projects are voluntary efforts spearheaded by a few good men (and women) with no financial reward. Being a provider of free software myself, I realize how important it is to get the occasional donation — not just to help defray costs (my baseball game, CSFBL, costs over $250 a month just for the Internet connection and server, and the latter is woefully inadequate), but to also give you the incentive to keep plugging forward. Each donation becomes a validation that what you do is worthwhile and meaningful to someone other than yourself, and in many ways, getting that donation helps give you the incentive to keep plugging away.
That all being said, I decided that, starting June 2007, I will donate a small amount of money ($5.00) each month to one free project that I feel is worth the cause. Sure, $5.00 is not a lot — it amounts to $60 a year, an amount that does not reflect the economic value that these products bring to me — but my goal here is to start a trend.
We all use free stuff, and we all reap the rewards of it. Think how much more free stuff there would be — and how much better it would be — if each of us gave $5 a month to a single worthy product or service?
Sure, you can think, “It’s not free if we give money.” That may be true, but that’s not the point. Free software means that someone is giving you something with no expectation in return. By giving something to those people, we are saying “Thank you” and giving them the incentive to keep doing what they’re doing.
My first pledge goes to OpenOffice. They accept donations via PayPal, which makes it very easy. For $5.00 (rather 5 euros, so they get a little more than $5.00 thanks to favorable exchange rates), I have saved hundreds of dollars buying a commercial productivity suite. It’s money well-spent.
So, what do you say? Will you join the movement to pledge $5 a month to a free product or service that you feel is deserving? Make your pledge and let me know you’re on-board!