Burts AIS, osCommerce & More Blog
New URL: www.osworld.biz

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Open Source and GPL *does not* mean FREE

I'd like to remind users of Open Source, GPL'd programs such as osCommerce, Zen Cart and the like that this does not mean that everything associated with such programs has to be free. The freedom that the GPL brings is the freedom to do as you wish with the script and associated services. As an extreme example, you could download osCommerce right now, and then sell copies of it on eBay for $1,000,000 - I expect it would be hard to find a buyer, but that is your freedom. A true story I offer no Technical Support at these prices, in fact I charge extra for installation (should the buyer require me to install). This is quite well explained on my site Conditions of Purchase. Last week someone purchased a £9.99 ($20) template from my osCommerce Templates site - they did not order the installation service, so this is an AIS purchase. They buy, they install. I the received an email a few hours later asking why their osCommerce Store was not working. I took a quick look and easily determined it was a known bug within osC that is to do with MySQL paging on 4.1 - I simply pointed the customer at that page and politely explained that the cost of the template does not include Technical Support (unless my template has caused errors). I'm thinking that this should now be the end of it. A few hours later I get another email asking for help - he had tried to apply those fixes, but everything had gone wrong; so he deleted everything. Because I am such a nice guy, I reinstalled, installed the template and fixed the paging error - all free of charge. After all, it is only a few moments work. At last, the customer is now happy... Oh no, another email received. He decided to try Zen Cart instead, and had deleted osCommerce. He had already decided not to stay with ZC, and wanted me to reinstall osCommerce - I agreed on payment of my standard install fee. I consider this to be extremely fair based on the low price of the template (it's on special offer) and the fact I already installed it once for him free of charge. The problem here is the misconception that everything Open Source/GPL should be free (as in "no money") - this is simply not the case. If you are using osCommerce and need the help of a 3rd party, expect to pay a reasonable fee!

New URL: www.osworld.biz - thanks!


At 3/28/2006 02:21:00 PM, Blogger JavaRoasters said...

Hey Burt,

It is not just with your business, I think anyone who has put up contributions up on osC has come across this before. Not to the same extent as you but I get PM's like that, but not too many. I think osC is a great cart but it also attracts a lot of people on a very limited budget, I wonder where their stores are now????

At 3/28/2006 05:22:00 PM, Anonymous Myles O'Reilly said...

oxYeah, support requests always contain "ASAP", "URGENT" and lots of "!!!!!!!!".
But when you take a look at their site a few months later there are usually still no products added or the site has completely disappeared.

At 3/28/2006 09:40:00 PM, Anonymous One Dollar A Day said...

I still get emails regarding a UK postal rates contribution I submitted years and years ago.

I either delete the mail or reply politely saying I have not used oscommerce for over 2 years and cannot help.


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