Dmitry Leskov

Opening My First Ever Donations Season

"Start donating to the authors of free and open source programs that I am using" was one of my failed New Year resolutions on more occasions than I am willing to admit. It is not anymore, and I hope this post will inspire you to follow suit (please let me know in the comments if it worked).

Of all the software installed on my home PC, I only paid for a few items: an OEM copy of Windows, Office 365 subscription, Photoshop Elements, and Corel AfterShot Pro, bought back when it was called Bibble Lite. Everything else is either freeware or open source.*

Now, having been in the industry myself for nearly thirty years, I totally recognize that making all those free and open source products certainly costed their vendors/authors a lot of time and effort, if not money. Some of the free products, such as IntelliJ IDEA and PyCharm, have commercial siblings. Some of the open source ones are either backed by a big corporation (VirtualBox) or have many such corporations among their sponsors (Linux, Firefox, Git, etc.). But there is also a handful of quality products created by individuals, communities, and small companies. I figured that the holiday season would be a perfect time to give them my support.

Farewell Gifts

First, some programs that I do not anticipate to use in the future, at least on a regular basis, so these will likely remain my only donations.

$10 to ImgBurn, a free CD/DVD burning application. Last updated in June 2013, apparently because optical media is seldom used these days. But before flash memory took over, I burned at least two hundred discs with ImgBurn and it never failed on me.

$10 to Paint.NET – it makes little sense to install this alongside Photoshop, but previously I used it for all my interactive raster image edits (for batch edits, see below).

Exact Audio Copy and Foundation, the creators of the FLAC lossless audio format, get $5 each for enabling me to convert my collection of CDs to a few dozen gigabytes of FLAC files.

$10 to MozBackup, which rescued me out of multiple Firefox profile management screwups, but is regretfully no longer maintained.

Here Is Your Tip, Keep Up The Good Work

Now over to the programs that I plan to keep on using, and hopefully donating to, in the future.

$5 to pandoc – It’s amazing how well it converts documents between markup formats. In particular, I’ve used it to convert a draft of this post from Markdown to HTML. It also stands out as perhaps the most well-known software product written in Haskell.

$5 to ImageMagick, which can automate any mass raster image transformation process you can think of, provided you are not command-line averse.

$5 to Inkscape – more than enough for my humble experiments with vector graphics and SVG files.

$5 to each of Freemake, VLC, and FFMPEG, respectively the easiest-to-use video conversion program I’ve ever seen, the media player of seemingly limitless capabilities and tolerance, and the key technology under their hoods. (Update: turns out FFMPEG do not accept PayPal, so this will have to wait a bit.)

$5 to Calibre, which meets my limited e-book conversion needs perfectly.

$5 to PuTTY – unless/until Microsoft delivers on its promise to bring OpenSSH support to Windows, this program shall remain a must‑have for those who prefer Windows on their workstations and Unix on their servers.

$5 to WinSCP – FTP, SCP, SFTP, FTPS, you name it. A perfect complement to the previous entry, and a must-have plugin for the next one.

Thanks. Just Thanks

Finally, three products to which I wish I could donate but couldn’t:

Far Manager – file and archive manager of the "inspired by Norton Commander" genre. Think Total Commander, but implemented as a console application. It used to be shareware, but went open source a few years ago. This is THE product I use most regularly, but I could not find any donation links on the Web site and from the respective forum discussions it seems no one is interested in adding them.

7-Zip – one of the best-compressing archivers, though I primarily use it to unpack ZIP and RAR files. Again, no mention of donations on the Web site and the author expressly turned away an offer to donate posted to the discussion forum as recently as in May 2016.

SumatraPDF – a lean alternative to Foxit Reader (not to mention Adobe Reader), which also happens to display DjVu files. Its author also wrote in the forum explicitly that donations are not accepted, so I can only express my gratitude to him.

That’s it for now, but I am hereby making a resolution to add those that I may have overlooked or forgotten about today later in 2017.

If this post has prompted you to donate to the authors of your favorite free and open source programs, please let me know in the comments below, on Reddit, or on Hacker News.

*Technically, there is also stuff that came bundled with this or that device and therefore had no separate price tag.

The Orthodox Christmas is January 7th, so here in Russia the first week of January is one big holiday.

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