NeoOffice Early Access FAQ

From NeoWiki

Revision as of 08:48, 1 July 2006 by Sardisson (Talk | contribs)
Jump to: navigation, search

This FAQ supplements the official Early Access Program information found at


What is the NeoOffice Early Access Program?

The NeoOffice Early Access Program provides individuals with access to a NeoOffice release binary in advance of the release of the same binary to the general public, in exchange for a small fee that helps offset development costs.

The next Early Access Program will be for NeoOffice 2.0 Beta, beginning on August 2. Participating in the Early Access Program will provide you with an opportunity to download NeoOffice 2.0 Beta either up to four weeks (or up to two weeks, for a reduced fee) in advance of the general public, depending on when you join the program.

The NeoOffice 2.0 Beta Early Access Progam does not provide you early access to any future NeoOffice release. However, purchasing a NeoOffice 2.x Early Access Program subscription (for a higher fee) will provide you advanced access to the complete series of NeoOffice 2.x releases.

Please note that you are purchasing a service (advanced access), not a product; as such, there are no refunds. Moreover, while we believe NeoOffice 2.0 Beta is stable enough for advanced users to begin testing, there are likely many bugs still lurking, and, like all GPL software, there is no warranty of any kind, including for the stability of the software or suitability of the software for a particular task.

For more information about the NeoOffice Early Access Progam, please visit the Planamesa Sofware website.

Why should I participate in the NeoOffice Early Access Program?

Participants in the NeoOffice Early Access Program provide funds which support the continued development of NeoOffice, including the most-requested features of further “Aquafication” and a version that runs on Intel-based Macintoshes.

The NeoOffice project is funded entirely by donations (including "donations" by the developers of their own money and time), and as the popularity of NeoOffice has increased, the task of simply keeping up with existing bug reports has become a full-time job for one developer. Adding new features (such as the recent upgrade to the 2.0.x codebase, and planned support for Intel-based Macintoshes and adding additional Aqua widgets) takes an even greater amount of time.

Without financial support from users (either through standard donations or participation in the new Early Access Program), NeoOffice maintenance and development would slow to a crawl, and there is a danger that, without sufficient funds, the currently-released version of NeoOffice could be the last version of NeoOffice.

Why are you charging for NeoOffice?

We are not charging for NeoOffice; the Early Access Program provides users willing to contribute to the program with an opportunity to begin using an official NeoOffice binary in advance of the public release of the same binary.

NeoOffice binaries are still freely available; at present, NeoOffice 1.2.2 PowerPC is available for download completely free-of-charge, and on May 23, 2006, NeoOffice 2.0 Alpha 3 PowerPC became available for download completely free-of-charge after a month in the Early Access Program. On July 1, 2006, NeoOffice 2.0 Alpha Intel became available for download completely free-of-charge. On September 1, 2006, NeoOffice 2.0 Beta will be available for download completely free-of-charge. The NeoOffice source code remains available completely free-of-charge, and you are welcome to build the latest version of NeoOffice 2.0 yourself.

Why are you charging for Early Access, then?

As mentioned above, the NeoOffice project is currently funded entirely by "donations"; donations from users currently cover less than half of the costs associated with developing and distributing NeoOffice. The remaining costs are paid directly by the developers. Additionally, work on NeoOffice is a full-time job for a single developer (but, if there were enough funding, there is enough work for at least another full-time developer). So developers must choose between developing NeoOffice, or seeking paid employment and letting NeoOffice stagnate.

In short, giving away software is not a good way to put food on the table and support one's family.

The NeoOffice developers work on NeoOffice because they enjoy doing so and give the software away for free because they believe in the ideals of free and open-source software. Unfortunately, we live in a world governed by money, and at some point the developers must make money to support themselves (and keep the project going).

Some statistics:

  • Developers currently put in a combined 70-80 hours a week working on NeoOffice
  • 1500 to 2500 hours per year depending on donations
  • NeoOffice is currently averaging nearly 2 million downloads per year
  • The number and amount of donations have been decreasing (especially since fall 2005) while the number of downloads of NeoOffice has continued to increase rapidly
    • As the number of downloads increases rapidly, so does the cost of the bandwidth used to deliver those downloads is developed by a small company-sized contingent of paid Sun engineers plus paid employees from Novell, RedHat, and others, with the assistance of true volunteers, and Sun pays CollabNet a huge sum of money annually to host the website and master download server; by contrast, NeoOffice is developed by two volunteer developers who are not employed by large companies for this purpose, and they must fund all project expenses, including bandwidth, themselves or from donations.
    • The current model of entirely voluntary donations is not keeping up with demand
      “What NeoOffice needs is not more users, but more donating users
      • Donations are highest around the time of Alpha releases, while donations are lowest around the time of final releases—which are much more widely downloaded
        I.e., early testers not only help work the bugs out, but they also foot the bill financially for the final releases that are so widely used
      • Most monthly subscription donors typically cancel their subscription after 3-6 months

What about the GPL?

The GNU General Public License (GPL) explicitly allows for sales of software, and for collecting fees for services like distribution of free (as in speech) software. However, we are not selling software; the Early Access Program is providing advanced access to free software. Plus, the source for NeoOffice is still publicly available and free (in both senses of the word). If you want NeoOffice 2.0 Beta without paying $25, you are free to check out the source code and build it yourself. Otherwise, the official NeoOffice 2.0 Beta binary will be available without charge on September 1.

Distribution of NeoOffice binaries obtained under the Early Access Program

Distribution of NeoOffice binaries (and all software with the NeoOffice wordmark) is governed by the NeoOffice CD Distribution & Trademark Usage Policy. While the GPL covers the rights to distribute, build, and modify the source code of NeoOffice under copyright law, rights to distribute, build, and modify software branded as “NeoOffice” are restricted under trademark law (and this dichotomy is common among major free and open-source software projects; see the introduction to the NeoOffice CD Distribution & Trademark Usage Policy for examples).

In short, you cannot distribute software using the “NeoOffice” name without an appropriate license from the holder of the NeoOffice® trademark (either under the license terms in the NeoOffice CD Distribution & Trademark Usage Policy or a separate license you negotiate with the trademark holder). This protects the NeoOffice brand and ensures that anyone using software labeled “NeoOffice” is using software built, tested, and released by the NeoOffice project. (You are free, however, to recompile the software yourself, call it “BobOffice“ and excise all mentions of “NeoOffice” from the product, and then distribute it in any manner consistent with the GPL, unrestricted by the NeoOffice CD Distribution & Trademark Usage Policy.)

While it is currently unclear whether we can legally restrict the distribution of NeoOffice binaries obtained under the NeoOffice Early Access Program, we ask that you do not redistribute these binaries to others until after the Early Access Program for the specific binary release has ended (e.g., until May 23 for NeoOffice 2.0 Alpha PowerPC, until July 1 for NeoOffice 2.0 Alpha Intel, or until September 1 for NeoOffice 2.0 Beta).

Each person who obtains a copy of NeoOffice 2.0 Beta during the Early Access Program without paying for the early access represents $10-$25 of lost funding that could have otherwise been used to continue development of NeoOffice. Given the large number of people who normally download each NeoOffice release, this could potentially lead to a substantial amount of lost funds and could cause NeoOffice development to cease.

There will be a “Hall of Shame” listing organizations or IP block owners who purchase one Early Access Program membership and then widely deploy the binary obtained from the single membership.

Why not use idea x instead of the Early Access Program?

Because most of the other proposals that have been offered were unpalatable to the developers or unrealistic in terms of the funds they would generate. See the discussion in this thread on trinity for some of the ideas that were proposed and their drawbacks. (The developer of the GUI front-end for DarwinPorts has recently chosen a similar path; see his blog entry "Free Software Isn't Free" for his thoughts and reasoning.)

Other Questions?

Please be sure your question isn't answered by the official NeoOffice Early Access Program information.

If you still have additional questions, please ask at trinity.

Personal tools