Grass-Roots Funding Accelerates the Advancement of Free Software

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Thanks to collaborative funding, a popular free chat client is finally picking up some long-awaited features.

Free Software developers have a reputation for contributing purely as a hobby

Shared funding is helping to bring voice and video messaging to Pidgin, a free chat client used by millions. Last week, Mike Ruprecht, the main developer of the feature, earned just over $3,500 CAD, collected from 10 different sponsors.

The bounty was made possible by FOSS Factory (, a website designed to help accelerate the advancement of free/open source software.

Pidgin users have been asking for voice and video for several years, but it was beyond what the developers could promise. According to Pidgin's FAQ, "We plan to implement these features, but it is a daunting task... It could be tomorrow, or it could be in 2099". Thanks to Ruprecht's hard work, Pidgin 2.6 has shipped with voice and video support for the XMPP (Google Talk) protocol. He is now working on Yahoo chat, and he intends to complete at least MSN and AIM support.

"Free Software developers have a reputation for contributing purely as a hobby", said John-Paul Gignac, founder of FOSS Factory, "but it eventually gets hard to justify spending too much time on it. The money that Mike earned is a great proof of concept, but we need to scale up the effort. If more users contributed a few bucks a month, I know that developers could sink a lot more time into their favourite projects."

The FOSS Factory website enables either one-time donations or monthly sponsorship. Its unique funding structure allows bounties to be shared among many developers without discouraging collaboration. This makes it ideal for large projects like Pidgin voice and video.

When asked about the bounty, Ruprecht said "... it helped me feel more comfortable putting more time in for it." Ruprecht is a recent graduate of ITT Technical Institute and is currently employed part-time.

The funding for Pidgin voice and video is down to just over $1,700 CAD. But FOSS Factory Inc. has promised up to $10,000 CAD of matching funds to help attract more sponsors and developers to the project.

About FOSS Factory:
FOSS Factory's mission is to accelerate the advancement of free/open source software by helping people collaborate on the design, funding, and development of innovative software ideas.

John-Paul Gignac, Founder
FOSS Factory Inc.

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John-Paul Gignac
FOSS Factory
519-967-9665 ext. 2
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