Whenever I give a talk about Free Open Source Software, the question I am invariably asked is "How does anyone make any money?". I reply that people make money from the services they offer using free software, and then plough money back into the projects that support their livelihood. For example, Google's Summer of Code, and on a micro-scale, myself donating spare $ to my favourite projects.
However, software projects still need lots of hard cash (the Digital Audio Workstation Arour asks for subscriptions).
Recently I've also received an email from the Libre Graphics Meeting, who are looking to raise $15k for "travel and support" for the meeting in Montreal in May 2009. Included in the main projects are Scribus, Inkscape and GIMP, and considering I use at least one of these pretty much every day, a few dollars donations seems the least I could do.
A few years ago I had a conversation with Martin Dupras (an ex-colleague, lecturer, FOSS exponent and musician with a brain the size of a planet). The conversation was about somehow persuading universities and colleges to firstly use Free Open Source Software, and secondly to pay for that software. Then, the educators could ask for new features, neigh, even pay for new features. The beauty of it is that the features would then be available to everybody :). To be effective, this would have to be a nationwide initiative. A revolutionary thought: government spending money on Free Software, with the fruits of that expenditure benefiting everybody…
So, is anyone up for the challenge?!