Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Graphics Software

How To Make Money With Free Software 187

Posted by timothy
from the actual-money dept.
fons writes "Dutch Python hacker/artist Stani took part in a contest organised by the Dutch Ministry Of Finance to design a 5 euro commemorative coin. And he won, using only free software: 'The whole design was done for 100% with free software. The biggest part consists of custom software in Python, of course within the SPE editor. For the visual power I used PIL and pyCairo. From time to time also Gimp, Inkscape and Phatch helped quite a bit. All the developing and processing was done on GNU/Linux machines which were running Ubuntu/Debian. I would have loved to release the coin under the GPL, which could maybe solve the financial crisis. However for obvious reasons I was not allowed to do that.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How To Make Money With Free Software

Comments Filter:
  • by geekoid (135745)

    that's a ice looking coin, well done.

  • Making money (Score:3, Insightful)

    by homer_s (799572) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:59PM (#25576159)
    I would have loved to release the coin under the GPL, which could maybe solve the financial crisis.

    Actually, people printing too much money was how this crisis started in the first place.
    (and they are going to solve it by ... issuing more credit).
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Actually, people printing too much money was how this crisis started in the first place.
      (and they are going to solve it by ... issuing more credit).

      Is that what they call the XML solution?

      • by dkf (304284)

        Is that what they call the XML solution?

        With XML, you can just mod the syntax -1 Redundant. It doesn't work like that with financial crises...

    • Re:Making money (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tawnos (1030370) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:06PM (#25576963)

      Wasn't really caused by printing too much money (especially since a lot of the money was never printed, but just given out on paper). The issue is more that the money loaned out was secured in a way that didn't correctly model the risk of giving out that money. When it was found that the assumptions made were faulty and began to unwind, a whole ton of shit hit the fan. I'm not going to suggest (in this post) who caused the problem, loaners or takers, and if the problem is being best resolved, but the problem wasn't caused by loaning out too much.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by fm6 (162816)

      You seem to be under the impression that all the banks just failed had the ability to print money. If they had, do you think they would have failed?

      Printing too much money doesn't cause this kind of crisis, which is actually about a shortage of money. What printing too much money does is cause inflation. That's how the German hyperinflation [usagold.com] happened. During that period, the German economy roared right along, and everybody was employed, even though they were paid with worthless paper.

  • by femto (459605) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:16PM (#25576401) Homepage
    This guy won due to superior design, not due to the fact that he used free software. The free software is in the background, contributing but almost incidental to the final product. That's how is should be though. Free software released the artist from the constraints of having to fit in with someone else's idea of what software or technology he should be allowed to use, leaving him free to be creative and follow his own unique path.
    • by elashish14 (1302231) <profcalc4@@@gmail...com> on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:34PM (#25576625)

      Nevertheless, it's good publicity for FOSS. If you show that you can be productive with it, more adoption.

      In fact, if more people that use FOSS say it, it will remove the stigma that such software is substandard to the business alternatives.

    • by Bryansix (761547) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:15PM (#25577065) Homepage
      Uhm, there is an excellent chance that he would NEVER be able to afford all that software if he actually had to buy it at commercial going rates. So the free software was a great tool which was also an enabler in this situation.
      • by femto (459605) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @08:17PM (#25577661) Homepage

        I agree with you but for different reasons. The judges would have been oblivious to the fact the free software was used to design the coin. They gave the award based in the design in front of them, uninfluenced by its means of production. The artist won 100% based on his design. Hence the first part of my comment.

        Tool selection is part of the behind the scenes design process. The free software tools contributed to the artist's ability to realise his design. He might have been able to do it without free software, but would have had to divert effort from being creative into forcing the tools to do his will. Being able to afford the tools for the job is part of it, but I think a larger issue is that free software provided the customisability to get the job done.

        This is why I think it's an excellent example: he won the prize entirely though his own resourcefulness, but free software allowed his resourcefulness to go places it otherwise could not have.

        Observation: Funny that I just came out with words to the effect of "where do you want to go today?", the old MS slogan. The important thing is not the question, but the answer. Some software will let you go lots of places. The excellent case in point, the example of the coin, has demonstrated that free software's answer is "wherever you want to go".

      • by syousef (465911)

        Pity the article makes it sound like the only way you can make a buck with free software is to enter an obscure competition to design a commemorative coin and then win. Then again that might not be too far off ;-)

    • "Free software released the artist from the constraints of having to fit in with someone else's idea of what software or technology he should be allowed to use, leaving him free to be creative and follow his own unique path."

      Uh huh, and exactly what constraint was he under that a piece of paper and a number 6H pencil wouldn't solve? I know we all like to cheer on free software but in this example his "unique path" was constrained only by himself.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by femto (459605)
        The same could be said of the designers of the A380 jumbo jet. They could have used a piece of paper and a 6H pencil but they they would have come up against the constraint that it is physically impossible to do the required calculations in a reasonable time. It's why people use automated tools. While not in the same league as an A380, the coin still embodies calculations which are involved enough that they could not be done manually. For example, the calculations involved in rendering the illustration
    • by fm6 (162816)

      This guy won due to superior design, not due to the fact that he used free software.

      I disagree. I'm not saying the judges said "Ooh, this guy used Python, let's give him the prize." But they must have reacted to the unusual nature and the playfulness of his design, and that's very much a reflection of the way he went about designing it.

      And the way Stani went about designing it is very unusual for a graphic designer. But not for a member of the Open Source community. The members of that community are motivated by their love of a clever hack, more so even than the desire to create useful sof

    • Free software released the artist from the constraints of having to fit in with someone else's idea of what software or technology he should be allowed to use, leaving him free to be creative and follow his own unique path.

      Because he could fix gimp bugs in a snap and pay me to design and implement for him his own half-gimp-half-emacs-half-manbearpig tool.

      This is a story about how free software simply does the job and gets out of the way, not about how the starving artist is also a programmer or can afford one.

      The story about why the free software simply does the job and gets out of the way, that's probably an interesting one.

      • I just love making abundantly clear through my actions that I didn't even bother to read the summary.

        I blame the editors ;)

    • by 4D6963 (933028)

      OMG, but don't you understand, that means someone somewhere has done something concrete that means something in the real world using FOSS software! That means that these billions of man-hours invested in developing FOSS weren't spent in vain!

      Hallelujah and Freesoftwaruh Akbar!

    • by CBravo (35450)

      True, but I think the point is that it didn't restrict the designer in question.

  • I don't get it.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by HerculesMO (693085)

    What's the big deal?

    I've seen people recreate entire scenes from "Lost" in MS Paint, but it doesn't mean it's the easier or faster way to do it.

    Just means it can be done. I'm not devaluing the work done here, or the benefit of open source software but seriously... I don't see the big deal in this article.

    • by HonestButCurious (1306021) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:45PM (#25576745) Journal

      Did you RTFA (or more specifically LATFC)? This coin has algorithmic outputs both on the front (the Queen made out of architect names) and on the back (an outline of Holland made out of books). I can't see how anybody could create it using Photoshop or Illustrator. The coin designer probably spent more time coding than sketching (like the book Snow Crash).

      Also, it's beautiful. I want one, no, a few million of them.

      • I can't see how anybody could create it using Photoshop or Illustrator. The coin designer probably spent more time coding than sketching (like the book Snow Crash).

        A lesson to learn here is that if you can't see how, doesn't mean someone else doesn't as well :)

        Photoshop/Illustrator are fully scriptable environments. By JS/VBScript on Windows, and JS/AppleScript on OSX. Every single option, action, brush stroke, whatever you can think of, is automatable, and Adobe software comes with a little IDE-like tool for writing and testing your Photoshop/Illustrator/Flash IDE/etc. scripts in.

        But the truth is, it's even simpler to achieve the guts of this effect in Photoshop, with no script at all.

        A simple text-on-a-path layer, a little blending mode play, and a levels adjustment layer.

        This is not to put down his effort, if he wants to design with Python, by all means, he should do so.

    • Seriously, he could have saved tons of time just by using a piece of paper, a pencil, and maybe a protractor/soda can to make the circle.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      The big deal is the creative way in which he used the software. RTFA.

  • That's Impressive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Phat_Tony (661117) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:23PM (#25576473)
    This guy is a master of symbolic design. He's the modern heir of the artistic geniuses who did all the dense symbolic religious iconography in early christian churches and for secret societies. It's perfectly fitting, since architecture, particularly classical architecture, is loaded with design secrets and hidden meanings, and the coin is about architecture. This coin being loaded with dense symbolism and being about architecture, I hope there's something masonic hidden on it somewhere. I assume the masons were active in The Netherlands?

    My question is - did he just use open-source on principle, or did it confer an advantage on doing this project over the commercial alternatives? Or was it harder to do it with the open source software? Clearly it involved a lot of custom scripting. Did he go as far as to look at the source code to accomplish this, or dig into the software in other ways that couldn't be done with closed source? Anybody know?
    • This guy is a master of symbolic design. He's the modern heir of the artistic geniuses who did all the dense symbolic religious iconography in early christian churches and for secret societies. It's perfectly fitting, since architecture, particularly classical architecture, is loaded with design secrets and hidden meanings, and the coin is about architecture. This coin being loaded with dense symbolism and being about architecture, I hope there's something masonic hidden on it somewhere. I assume the masons were active in The Netherlands?

      My question is - did he just use open-source on principle, or did it confer an advantage on doing this project over the commercial alternatives? Or was it harder to do it with the open source software? Clearly it involved a lot of custom scripting. Did he go as far as to look at the source code to accomplish this, or dig into the software in other ways that couldn't be done with closed source? Anybody know?

      I was thinking the same thing about his mastery of visual symbolism. However, in what sense are ancient greek and roman buildings dense with symbolism? Are you talking about the sculpture on them?

      • by Phat_Tony (661117)
        Sorry, I'm using the wrong terminology. Not "early" Christian. I guess I just meant "old," as in, for example, Russian Orthodox churches from, I think. about 1400-1800. For example, St. Theodosius Cathedral [sttheodosius.org] isn't that old, but it's modeled after, and includes many artifacts from, churches from that time. The religious iconography is so dense you could probably pick any square yard of wall, ceiling, window, or carvings and write a 30-page treatise on the meanings contained within, both hidden and overt, and
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lawpoop (604919)

        I was thinking the same thing about his mastery of visual symbolism. However, in what sense are ancient greek and roman buildings dense with symbolism? Are you talking about the sculpture on them?

        I took a class on Sacred Architecture, and basically, the Greek buildings are loaded to the hilt with meanings. Well, it was all mathematical, though. You can thank the Greek philosophers for first originating the idea of the Matrix. The reality we see with the senses is a shadow of the real world, which is mathematics.

        For one, they liked to use the golden ratio wherever they could. Here's a page [milanovic.org] that has an image of the golden ratio in a Greek temple. Second, look closely at the columns. See who they t

    • by lawpoop (604919)

      This coin being loaded with dense symbolism and being about architecture, I hope there's something masonic hidden on it somewhere. I assume the masons were active in The Netherlands?

      Are they? Are they ever!

      Why, just look at the way the guy is holding his hand in the photo at the bottom of this page [minfin.nl]! Can you believe it!? It's right out in front of everyone, there on this web page! I would think they would be more subtle about it.

      Photo in question [minfin.nl]

    • is that a metaphor for free software, also?

      i mean, don't get me wrong, i'm writing this on an Ubuntu box loaded with free software, some of which i even use. but free software in general can be unrefined and unapproachable. and that's exactly how i see this coin. even the denomination is not prominent. it seems to be designed to appeal to nerds (art or otherwise), and not the actual people that need to use it.
    • Re:That's Impressive (Score:4, Informative)

      by bmcage (785177) on Friday October 31, 2008 @05:19AM (#25580973)
      Dude, the guy wrote an entire python editor, SPE (Stani's Python Editor)! The special forte of it is that it integrates with Blender.

      His editor is really good, but some performance issue on my 64bit. I prefer it over Erik4 otherwise.

      I think you can savely assume that if he is not happy with something, he just changes the source code and recompiles.

  • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:31PM (#25576591)
    ...it made me giggle with joy to see the guy mention he won against people using Adobe products. I teach Adobe products to impressionable college students, and when they sign up to take my class and purchase their own copy of Photoshop or Illustrator, boy do they think they have ARRIVED in cool-town. Many of my new students think that once they *understand* how to use Photoshop better than most, they are now a graphic designer, creative person, illustrator, web designer, etc.

    So I started doing an extra credit assignment where I tell them they are not allowed to use Adobe products, and they have to design a postcard. They use any package they want; most use GIMP or Inkscape because they're free. Without fail, they come back and say, "hey, I can't do anything with this. It's not Adobe. It sucks." So I point out to them that their Adobe software skills make them think they're pretty good at design. But what happened to their awesome design skills when they started using another software package? Does the software really suck, or do they just hate it because of its non-Adobeness? I show them nicely-done work by other GIMP or Inkscape users. Blank looks. Lesson ensues.

    Relying on a specific software package is fine. *Depending* on it is risky. And *not being able* to design using anything else because of some marketing-infused mental block just means you're spoiled and/or ignorant. Bravo for the true creativity displayed in the article.
    • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:00PM (#25576923)
      Adobe is a tool. Much like your key board is a tool.

      That test as akin to asking someone to type with a non-QWERTY style keyboard.

      Your test did not challenge their design and creative abilities, it tested their ability to use different tools.
      • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:14PM (#25577045)
        It's not a test, it's an extra-credit assignment that is optional. The assignment exposes their response when given a new tool to use. This is valuable because it answers this question: Do they discard the new tool because they've only learned craftmanship with one tool, or do they attempt to use it and seek help where required?

        If a student views himself as a craftsman who uses one tool, he needs to know that he is selling himself short, that is all. Half of the student's grade in these classes is based in the application of design principles independent of any specific specific software package. So for an extra credit assignment, that's more than appropriate.

        Also, If I were teaching a keyboarding class, I'd have no problem exposing my students to Dvorak or Das Keyboard in similar optional, extra credit assignments.
        • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:31PM (#25577205)
          I only meant "test", as in testing their skill. I did not mean to infer that it was an in class test. Sorry for any confusion there.

          I believe there is value in learning to use multiple different tools, no matter what your trade.

          The reason I said something was because you were talking about their design skills. But the extra credit assignment did not tackle the issue of design skills as much as it addressed their ability to use a different tool.

          At the end of the day, I think it was a wonderful extra credit assignment to give them. Something to challenge how they see the tools they use and possibly expand their horizons.
      • by houghi (78078)

        That test as akin to asking someone to type with a non-QWERTY style keyboard.

        I do that on a daily basis. My main computer is qwerty and my portable is azerty. At work my main is qwerty and my secondary is azerty.
        Now it is not so bad. I used to have a French azerty keyboard, which is just a bit different then a Belgian one. Also I have worked with a German keyboard, which is different as well.

        And you are right, no matter how many different keyboards I use, Shakespear it ain't (Or Voltair, Goete, ...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kjella (173770)

      Many of my new students think that once they *understand* how to use Photoshop better than most, they are now a graphic designer, creative person, illustrator, web designer, etc. (...) So I point out to them that their Adobe software skills make them think they're pretty good at design. But what happened to their awesome design skills when they started using another software package?

      Eh, one tool or two they can still be damn crappy designers. And a good designer could use a pencil and crayons and be completely computer illiterate. I doubt it shows anything except that without understanding how a tool works, you can't use it well.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Eh, one tool or two they can still be damn crappy designers.

        Actually, I've identified the one-tool-only scenario as a stumblingblock for *my* students. So an extra tool thrown in there does seem to help. Other instructors may see things differently.

        And a good designer could use a pencil and crayons and be completely computer illiterate.

        I don't see where I disagreed with that. But that's at a very high level, and perhaps some of these students will get tired of supporting Adobe, switch to GIMP, or find the

    • Exactly, because everyone knows that only when you use GIMP will you become a "graphic designer, creative person, illustrator, web designer, etc".

      Why don't you teach GIMP instead of Photoshop? Oh, that's right - nobody will pay you to teach it.

      • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @08:17PM (#25577671)

        only when you use GIMP will you become a "graphic designer, creative person, illustrator, web designer, etc".

        "You seem to be setting up a straw man. Can I help you with that?" -Clippy (because no, I never said what you suggest I did)

        Why don't you teach GIMP instead of Photoshop?

        Most of my students have no context in which to understand the difference between the two. But since you asked, I will be teaching GIMP soon, as the art faculty in my college have demonstrated an interest in helping students grasp the Open Source aesthetic. Also, you may have noticed that I *do* teach GIMP currently, as an optional item.

        Oh, that's right - nobody will pay you to teach it.

        I'm not sure where you heard that. The school has already shown interest in paying me more to develop a curriculum for more advanced students which would heavily involve Open Source software. We also like the idea of establishing a one-of-a-kind creative lab by spending more money on capable hardware installations than on software. You may have seen this happen at schools like MIT. But still, I come to /. to hear the old arguments against Open Source stuff, so...well played, my literal-nicked friend.

        • Your lesson seemed a little muddled. Were you trying to show that tools don't make you creative or were you trying to promote open source tools? I can understand the blank stares.

          As far as the advanced class you may be paid to teach someday, what is the point of it? Is the goal to teach students how to design for themselves or to teach them how to design using the tools they're likely to encounter working for somebody else. Promoting open source may possibly be good in the long run, but is it appropriate to

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            is it appropriate to do it on the backs of your students?

            This is the same rhetoric that always gets brought up in these /. discussions. As if an instructor would just cart in Open Source software one day and tell students they are forbidden to use some in-demand commercial package. Yeah, that sounds like a love of freedom to me.~

            I can understand the blank stares.

            Does this type of presuppositional thinking usually help you communicate? It's failing here because you seem to be asking a question I've already a

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      Dude that's a most retarded point. That's as if you asked Dennis Ritchie to code a Windows program in C# (assuming he's unfamiliar with that) and asked him where are his awesome programming skills now.
  • by marhar (66825) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:41PM (#25576695) Homepage

    For the humor-impaired, it's a pun:

    make (earn) money vs. make (design) money

    referring to the often asked question, how do you make money with free software.

    get it?

  • All you need to do is this! Its simple and GUARANTEED to make YOU money! $$$!

    Pay me $500 for the right to develop my wonderful ideas, and then just recruit TWO MORE PEOPLE to develop it for you, and promise that they get money! GUARANTEED RESULTS!!!! YOU can make FREE MONEY!! FREEEEEEE!!!!!!

  • Whatever. (Score:5, Informative)

    by sootman (158191) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:50PM (#25576793) Homepage Journal

    The more talent you have, the less important the tools are.

  • I'd to love buy a commemorative edition, but the Royal Dutch Mint appears not to ship outside the EU.

  • and the thoughts that went into it.

    I find the design pretty daring and radical. But still, without knowing anything about art or design, I can tell that a lot of thought went into it.

    That it's done with free software is ++, and just goes to show how effective it can be, when put into capable hands.

    congratulations.

  • by Edward Kmett (123105) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @07:16PM (#25577073) Homepage

    Asked what he was going to do with the award money, the artist said "I'll finally be able to afford Photoshop!" ;)

  • And?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dangitman (862676) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @08:22PM (#25577709)
    What's the significance of this story supposed to be? People have been designing things without proprietary software for centuries. Ever heard of pencil and paper? I don't see people bragging about using those tools... so what's the big deal if somebody uses Free software to do the same thing?
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rohan972 (880586)
      1) Its a joke. You know "How to make money with OSS ..."
      2) The oft stated "Linux is no good for graphic designers because it doesn't have photoshop" now has a response. Not that I see any photoshop users switching because of this, but serious professional graphics work has now been done on linux.
  • The biggest part consists of custom software in Python, of course within the SPE editor. For the visual power I used PIL and pyCairo. From time to time also Gimp, Inkscape and Phatch helped quite a bit.
    .

    To my eyes, at least, the coin looks like a technical exercise in mechanical drawing and perspective.

    Ingenious, perhaps, but not necessarily emotionally satisfying:

    benedick [matinmarkka.com]

  • ...looks like the Wheel of Fortune [blogspot.com].
  • NASA design Apollo space project on the back of OSS paper napkins using OSS pencils.

    Hooray, isn't OSS just the pants !

    This is not news, this is an OSS wankfest.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      crap, a bit too late, but we should tag this fosswankfest. Describes my initial thoughts perfectly.
  • I would have loved to release the coin under the GPL, which could maybe solve the financial crisis. However for obvious reasons I was not allowed to do that.

    What are the obvious reasons ? The coin will circulate, will be displayed in many website, its creation is sponsored by the state and is normally in the public domain. What prevents you from GPLing the files used for its creation ?

  • by Reinout (4282) * <reinout@NosPaM.vanrees.org> on Friday October 31, 2008 @09:04AM (#25582069) Homepage

    Stani explained the way he made the coin at a Dutch python user group meeting in Amsterdam. Everyone attending was really enthousiastic about it. http://reinout.vanrees.org/weblog/archive/2008/09/12/python-calculated-coin [vanrees.org]

    Good to see that he's written an article himself with the full explanation and graphs! Nicely done.

If at first you don't succeed, you must be a programmer.

Working...