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GUADEC/Gnome Fund Appeal 219

With the end of the year approaching, the Gnome Foundation has put together an appeal for help. You can also just head over to to contribute directly - and this year, they become a charity organization, meaning that contributions for US citizens will be tax deductions. Yay, tax deductions!
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GUADEC/Gnome Fund Appeal

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  • by phr2 ( 545169 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @05:35AM (#4928527)
    I thought GNOME was part of the GNU project. So isn't there already an FSF to handle the donation collecting end of things?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      According to this []:

      The FSF promotes the development of free software -- particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants. The FSF helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of software freedom.

      And when looking at the detail here here [], it speaks nothing of FSF support. So I guess an uninformed guess would be "no, not for Gnome"

    • FSF did support GNOME financially at one time and helped GNOME become a viable competitor to the then non-free KDE, but once that happened, GNOME has been on its own.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Instead of giving the product away why not simply charge for it?
  • a tax deduction. Maybe the Gnome Foundation can use some old underwear????

  • let's see how long it takes for the name "Malda" to come up here []...

    as of now (18:42 Dec 20 Tokyo Time) - I havn't found any /. editors on the said page yet.

  • WRONG! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tomlord ( 473109 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @05:44AM (#4928551)
    Were I to contribute, what percentage of my contribution would go towards paying people to write publicly licensed software? Ok, none? No sweat: what part of my contribution would go towards people who are architecting, in a credible, informed, politically neutral way, publicly licensed software? What, none?

    Ok, now how much of my money is going to fund a PR engine and admin engine that benefits, almost exclusively, a few for-profit businesses? Pretty much all of it?


    • Re:WRONG! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by msobkow ( 48369 )

      They're pretty clear about donations supporting a conferance/show in Ireland IIRC. No where do they suggest that the fund would go to developers or development efforts.

    • by jdub! ( 24149 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @11:50AM (#4929890) Homepage
      Here's a dose of reality. :-)

      The money contributed to the GNOME Foundation for this appeal goes directly to helping us hold GUADEC, and importantly, to fly hackers over who otherwise couldn't go. I was a beneficiary of this support last year, and thus, able to attend GUAD3C in Sevilla (which rocked). I am hugely thankful to the Foundation, and its kind supporters (both corporate and individual) who contributed in this way.

      I've been involved in conference organisation before (I was part of the organising team for [] in 2001), and I know how much time, effort and ultimately dollars it takes to stage a conference such as this.

      Your last comment is an interesting one, because it shows a fundamental misunderstanding about what the GNOME Foundation is all about. It's about GNOME, the project, not about the businesses that contribute. This is one team, not a competition between individual contributors and companies.

      We have one person involved in the Foundation who has 'proper' PR qualifications - she used to work for a very major PR company, who, funnily enough, happened to have MS as a customer, but I digress. She is a volunteer, like many of our hackers and contributors, but instead of writing code, she helps us with what a lot of the hackers see as 'dreary PR stuff'. :-)

      Have a read of [] - I hope it will clear up any misunderstandings you have about the organisation. I know there are a lot of them out there! :-)
      • Gnome is a cooperative free software project, not owned by any one company. At the same time, it's a commercial free software project: one that figures into the business plans of several companies.

        I'm not opposed to free software hackers asking for donations -- I've done it directly myself and indirectly as an FSF employee.

        But I am sorely dissapointed that Gnome and other R&D efforts aren't better financially supported by the companies who will profit from them. In effect, we're asked to subsidize those companies through private donations. They have a perfectly good subsidy in the form of R&D tax credits -- let them use that instead of private charity.

        How many good free software hackers are currently unemployed (like me)? Yes, I know there's a recession and so forth -- but part of the cure for a recession is for companies to start spending their way out of it. All of the large vendors have money in the bank and growing revenues from free software. A lot of free software R&D jobs could be created, today, speeding up development, and giving those vendors new and better products sooner.
  • by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Friday December 20, 2002 @05:45AM (#4928552) Homepage
    It would make sense if they did, right? If I've understood things correctly Ximian uses quite a bit of stuff from Gnome.
    • by cposs ( 545553 ) <cposs @ m i t . e du> on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:14AM (#4928592) Homepage
      I think you have it a backwards there. Ximian, along with Red Hat and Sun, is one of the main developers of Gnome. Ximian contributes to Gnome by its very existence. Furthermore, the founder of the Gnome project, Miguel de Icaza, is one of the founders of Ximian [].
      And before some ignorant troll pipes up, no, Ximian does not exploit OSS coders by selling someone else's code, they charge for services and a few properitary, in-house-developed products like Connector []. If you want to use Ximian Gnome, and not get their services, you can download [] it for free right from their site, as always.
  • Not that it has ever stopped me before but it would be nice if us Canadians could get a tax break too when we contribute to U.S. charities. The other part that sucks is if I give $100.00 Canadian it's about the same as $60.00 U.S.
    • Canadians can claim tax deductions for donations to US charities up to their US-source income. If you've done any freelance work over the past year, it's quite likely that you'll be able to claim the full deduction.
  • Time tax deductible? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tamnir ( 230394 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @05:47AM (#4928558)
    What if you do not want to donate money, but rather contribute with your work? I don't think any time investment can be tax deductible right now. That would also be pretty hard to track and verify.

    Still, that would be an interesting idea, specially to the Open Source community, which relies entirely on its dedicated developers. Sure money could buy you some drones, but they'd be more expensive and much less productive than the Open Source people.

    So, do you think there is any way/chance to ever see time donations being tax deductible too?
    • Time can never be tax deductible. It would open up a hole for tax avoidance far too large.

      But IRS, I donated 20 hours a week to Gnome! Since I assert my time is worth $50 per hour, you can deduct $1000 per week from my income for tax calculations!

      You can donate time. Spend that time at work, then donate the money you earned.

      • One way to look at it - you've already forgone the $1000 in revenue, therefore you haven't had to pay taxes on it. Being allowed to deduct the $1000 you didn't make would amount to not paying taxes on it twice.

        If you'd been paid a $1000 then turned around and made a $1000 donation, you'd be in the same position - zero tax liability (assuming you do it in the same year so tax rates are the same yada yada yada).

        Donating your time shouldn't impact your taxes any differently than charging for your time and giving the money away - and it doesn't under current tax laws.
    • You can convince the GNOME Foundation to pay you for your efforts and *wink* *wink* you might just happen to send them that same amount back as a charitable monetary donation.

      Viola! No money actually changes hands, but time is spent and you get a writeoff.
  • Now there is an incentive for tight fisted Gnome users to help out the cause. The words tax deduction make some people go crazy. Pluss it's good Karma
  • ...shouldn't be the main motivation for giving money to charity (and now one of your favorite open source projects), but nowadays donations and reduced taxes are inextricably connected. A true charitable contribution is giving resources to others out of the spirit of helping them. Any gain made in giving is good, but it shouldn't be the motivation.

    Gnome becoming a US-registered charity will probably help raise the amount of money they receive, so that's wonderful. Anybody that likes using open source software should contribute however they can (code, money, reporting bugs, etc).
    • Re:Tax deductions (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Osty ( 16825 )

      ...shouldn't be the main motivation for giving money to charity (and now one of your favorite open source projects), but nowadays donations and reduced taxes are inextricably connected. A true charitable contribution is giving resources to others out of the spirit of helping them. Any gain made in giving is good, but it shouldn't be the motivation.

      If the government would reduce (eliminate!) my tax burden, I'd gladly give my hard-earned money to charitable institutions. It won't. Therefore, to give me an incentive to give away even more of my money (and it is my money, not the government's), they should at least give let me deduct that amount from my taxable income. Preferably, they'd do even more, but that's highly unlikely.

      Donating your time or skills is all well and good, except that when you have to work to make ends meet, your free time becomes precious. I'd rather spend what little free time I have on me first, and then on charity if there's any left. Add to that all of the charity organizations that publicly state that they'd rather have monetary contributions than contributions of time, and it becomes even less likely that I would donate my time. So, that leaves giving money, and as far as I'm concerned the government takes too damn much of that already. There's nothing left for charities.

  • What he means is that they "became a tax-deductible organization this year," so any deductions made right now are deductible (save your receipts!).

    The letter seems a little vague to me, though:
    With the help of private donations, the foundation will be able to fulfill more requests from hackers for travel subsidies.
    Blanket pleas for donations to a decent cause will usually bring in money, but what will really bring in donations is specifics as to what the money will be used for and how much they need.

    How much do they generally subsidize travel expenses? How many people come? What service is the conference to the developers/hackers that can't be provided otherwise? Why does it have to be held in Dublin, Ireland?

    There are of course answers to those questions, but if Gnome really wants my money, then Tim and the rest of the team are going to have to provide more details. Until then, I'm skeptical.
  • Sun (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pyrrho ( 167252 )
    Does Sun contribute $$$?

    Just asking since they ship GNOME and plan to make it the default for Solaris 10
  • Charitable? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doctor Hu ( 628508 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @05:57AM (#4928580)
    ...and this year, they become a charity organization...
    Well, tax-exempt non-profit under 501(c)(3), at any rate, which covers organisations other than those that are humanitarially charitable in intent. I'm not sure that I'd class Gnome Foundation [] quite in that catagory.
    • I agree. It's helpful to think about what endeavors and motivations constitute a charity.

      Until 50-100 years ago, the word "charity" retained its original meaning of "love", as in 1 Cor. 13:13 (KJV). As charities have strayed from the biblical mandates of charity (love), the meaning of charity has been diluted to the point where almost any non-profit organization can become eligible for charity status. Even ones funneling money to Al Qaeda [].

      What is the purpose of traditional charities like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army?
      Answer: To LOVE.

      Then He will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me,
      I was a programmer and you did not subsidize my hacking projects." (based on Matt. 25:31-46, modified)
      Realizing that the Bible is the reason for the proliferation of charities in the Western world, the development of free warez doesn't quite fit.

      I think the Gnome Foundation is a good thing, but it's not a charity. To be specific, it's not part of the core of what charity is. It's somewhere out there in the periphery of charity -- beyond the aiding of primary needs, secondary needs, tertiary+ needs, primary wants, secondary wants... like Pioneer 10 [] -- yes, it's in the solar system, but it's waaay out there.

  • if a software group needs to make an "appeal for help", obviously something is wrong either with the software or the management!

    Just look at Gnome's competitor KDE. KDE is still free software, but by having a clean UI and using less resources, it has become the standard linux desktop interface. It's also featured as the default UI in most distro's such as in Red Hat's Linux 8. We don't see KDE group asking for help and donations!

    Personally, I don't put my money into what I see as inferior companies.
    • Re:this baffles me (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Shouldn't feed the trolls but

      1. Since when is KDE the DEFAULT Ui in RH8?

      2. This is an appeal for a specific function ie: GUADEC, which I am not aware has any equivalent in KDE
    • Re:this baffles me (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Znork ( 31774 )
      If you wish to contribute to KDE, you can of course do it here. []
    • Re:this baffles me (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      We don't see KDE group asking for help and donations! Yes we do here []
  • by jericho4.0 ( 565125 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:23AM (#4928609)
    I could really use some gnomes around the house to help with a few projects. I don't pay very well, but you need the money, no?
  • by katalyst ( 618126 ) on Friday December 20, 2002 @06:24AM (#4928612) Homepage
    At one end, Redhat has finally made profits thanks to its Advanced Server edition which comes bundled with Oracle. And here we have Gnome which accepts donations, and makes those tax deductable. These are 2 organizations, essentially working to promote the same technology... but going about it differently. I guess, KDE will fall somewhere in the middle.
    Whatever, OpenSource is on its way.
  • by Strepsil ( 75641 ) <> on Friday December 20, 2002 @07:13AM (#4928701) Homepage
    I don't care if it's for a conference or pizza and beer - it's enough for me that they asked. I'll hand them fifty bucks, no problem (and I just did). I'm not hurting right now, and I've had a hell of a lot of value out of GNOME.

    Please note, you people saying "what about the starving children," that I am doing this in ADDITION to other charitable donations, thanks very much. I'm hardly snatching money from the mouths of the innocent to hand it over to pale and chubby programmers.

    If you don't want to give them money, fair enough. Don't. You get that right with Free Software, you know? It's not like they figured out a way to make you pay for their products, even if you don't want them.

    They're asking nicely - you can decline just as nicely, you know.
    • I agree the bitching is misplaced. I'm happy to "donate" to free software projects I'm fond of, I buy OpenBSD and Slackware CDs, for example, and would be happy to just send cash if a decent, non-Paypal, poor box system could be created. As for charitable status, which seems to be the major source of controversy, the fact that something else is more worthy doesn't stop something in itself being worthy. I'll continue to funnel cash to both cancer research and NPR, I don't see any reason for me to drop the latter simply because good quality free radio programming is less important than saving lives. Both enrich humanity without being, in a meaningful sense of the word, profitable commercial projects, and both would suffer if forced to adopt a commercial model.

      That said, GNOME is just about the last project I'd donate to. I'm not happy about the direction it's going in, and haven't seen any evidence they'll ever produce anything I'd be happy using. Some projects you support, some you don't.

  • "and this year, they become a charity organization, meaning that contributions for US citizens will be tax deductions. Yay, tax deductions!"

    Great so now my tax dollars are effectively paying for Gnome, since anyone who deducts their donations is taking money out of the tax pool. Thanks a lot for forcing me to pay for your software. What a bunch of communists.
  • And take this anyway you want. What if GNOME were to "go under"?(not that that's even really possible since the code is free) Since most distros with the notable exception of Redhat have standardized on KDE, having Redhat switch to KDE would then for the first time have Linux as a whole presenting a unified desktop to the world. For the first time, with the exception of some difference in the naming of menus, you would be able to sit down in front of any of the big desktop distros and see the same desktop. I'm not saying I want that to happen, other then the desire to see ANY unified desktop, but still one does wonder where GNOME would be without Redhat. Of course this doesn't mean fluxbox users can't switch to that, but the thing I've heard year after year from the big commercial desktop vendors is that beyond being too small a market, the linux desktop from the outside seems too fragmented. There's not doubt in my mind that having all the big desktop vendors finally on one desktop would be a step in the right direction towards more widespread linux adoption. Remember I'm not talking about restricting choice to run another WM, so save your "choice is good" speechs for someone else. Most people who use linux want to see it used on a more widespread basis. Having a unified look is one the first steps.

"So why don't you make like a tree, and get outta here." -- Biff in "Back to the Future"