Open Ballot: Would you pay for Linux?
Depending on how you pay for it, you'll probably have to part with at least fifty quid for Windows 8, and double (or more) for OS X, and they come with almost no software compared to the average Linux distribution. Yet almost all Linux distributions are free as in zero-cost.
This fortnight we've got a simple question for you: would you (or indeed, do you) pay for Linux?
As we all know, Linux is free software, but free-as-in-speech software doesn't have to be free-as-in-beer.
As a paying customer you could expect more say in how the distro was developed. At the very least, you could take your business elsewhere if a distro started heading down a path you didn't like. Perhaps a distro is building a display server named after a space hotel that the financier once stayed in, and you think that their effort could be better spent working on an almost-finished cross-distro solution. Or maybe the developers are working on the third iteration of a desktop environment named after garden ornaments and you feel that it would be more prudent not to wantonly delete useful features. You can of course switch to a different distro as it is, but with less users not currently making much difference to a company's profit, they may not worry too much about loosing a few.
The money raised could be used to pay developers to work on the problems that users want fixed, rather than the problems of businesses or benevolent dictator's pet projects.
Of course, introducing money doesn't magically solve all problems. The cost may put people off trying new distros, especially lesser known ones. Maybe cash would destroy the sense of community that builds up around Linux.
Let us know what you think in the comments and we'll read them out in our upcoming podcast.