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posted by Fnord666 on Saturday January 21, @11:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the slow-death-of-proprietary-software dept.

EAGLE, The Easily Applicable Graphical Layout Editor is an ECAD (electronic computer-aided design), proprietary software for creating printed circuit boards. Cadsoft, the company that created it, sold EAGLE to Autodesk in June.

Hackaday reports

Autodesk has announced that EAGLE is now only available for purchase as a subscription. [Previously], users purchased EAGLE once and [could use] the software indefinitely (often for years) before deciding to move to a new version with another one-time purchase. Now, they'll be paying Autodesk on a monthly or yearly basis.

Before Autodesk purchased EAGLE from Cadsoft, a Standard license would run you $69, paid once. [...] Standard will [now] cost $15/month or $100/year and gives similar functionality to the old Premium level, but with only 2 signal layers.

[...] The next level up was Premium, at $820, paid once. [...] If you [now] need more [than 2] layers or more than 160 [] of board space, you'll need the new Premium level, at $65/month or $500/year.
New Subscription Pricing Table for Eagle

[...] The [freeware] version still exists, but, for anyone using Eagle for commercial purposes (from Tindie sellers to engineering firms), this is a big change. Even if you agree with the new pricing, a subscription model means you never actually own the software. This model will require licensing software that needs to phone home periodically and can be killed remotely. If you need to look back at a design a few years from now, you better hope that your subscription is valid, that Autodesk is still running the license server, and that you have an active internet connection.

The page has well over 100 comments, with many saying the equivalent of "Goodbye, EAGLE; Hello, KiCAD".
KiCAD is gratis and libre, cross-platform, has been adopted as a software development project by nerds at CERN, and has seen marked improvement in recent years.

CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCAD App for Designing Printed Circuits
Scripts Make the (Proprietary) Cadsoft EAGLE-to-(FOSS) KiCAD Transition Easier

Some time back, anubi and I conversed about how EAGLE has been DRM'd for quite a long while.

Original Submission

Related Stories

CERN is Getting Serious About Development of the KiCad App for Designing Printed Circuits 18 comments

The computer-aided design software packages (ECADs) available to electronics folks for creating schematics and printed circuit board layouts have long been an aggravation when trying to share data with someone who uses a package produced by a different vendor--due to proprietary file formats that are (apparently, purposely) incompatible.

Many years ago, Cadsoft's EAGLE was available as a demo that would do very limited PCB creation but which had unlimited ability to view/print already-created files. It was also cross-platform. For a short time, EAGLE-compatible files became a quasi-standard for amateurs and pros on a budget.

In 2006, however, Cadsoft got greedy and DRM'd their stuff so that it would lock you out of your work product under certain circumstances, as described by Markus Zingg on October 24. Cadsoft quickly lost what little luster it had in the community. CERN engineers are hoping to produce a package that will do the same job - but better.

More down the page...

Zune Music Service to Close 28 comments

Microsoft has announced (non-Javascript version) (emphasis in original) that

As of November 15, 2015, Zune services will be retired. You will no longer be able to stream or download content to your device from the Zune music service. However, Zune devices will still function as music players and any MP3 content that you own on the Zune device will remain there. You'll also be able to transfer music to and from your Zune player.

Note Content that was purchased with DRM may not play if the license can't be renewed.

Existing Zune Music Pass subscriptions will be converted to Groove Music Pass subscriptions.


Original Submission

Scripts Make the (Proprietary) Cadsoft EAGLE-to-(FOSS) KiCAD Transition Easier 12 comments

Hackaday reports:

One barrier for those wanting to switch over from EAGLE [software for producing printed circuit boards] to KiCAD has been the lack of a way to convert existing projects from one [file format] to the other. An Eagle to KiCad ULP [User Language Program] exists, but it only converts the schematic--albeit with errors and hence not too helpful. And, for quite some time, KiCad has been able to open Eagle .brd layout files. But without a netlist to read and check for errors, that's not too useful either.

[Lachlan] has written a comprehensive set of Eagle to KiCad ULP scripts to convert schematics, symbols, and footprints. Board conversion is still done using KiCad's built in converter, since it works quite well.

Overall, the process works pretty well, and we were able to successfully convert two projects from Eagle. The entire process took only about 10 to 15 minutes of clean up after running the scripts.

The five scripts and one include file run sequentially once the first one is run. [Lachlan]'s scripts will convert Eagle multi-sheet .sch to KiCad multi-sheets, place global and local net labels for multi sheets, convert multi part symbols, build KiCad footprint modules and symbol libraries from Eagle libraries, create a project directory to store all the converted files, and perform basic error checking.

The Eagle 6.xx PCB files can be directly imported to KiCad. The scripts also convert [Vias] to Pads, which helps with KiCad's flood fill when [Vias] have no connections. This part requires some manual intervention and post processing. There are detailed instructions on [Lachlan]'s GitHub repository and he also walks through the process in the video.

Previous KiCAD-related stories

Original Submission

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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Kell on Saturday January 21, @12:47PM

    by Kell (292) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 21, @12:47PM (#456945)

    I was all ready to drop a few grand on a handful of licenses for my lab. But now it'll be Kicad. Subscription is a fool's game for anyone who does real engineering and actually has to support their work long-term. It's simply unprofessional.

    Scientists ask questions. Engineers solve problems.
    • (Score: 2) by art guerrilla on Saturday January 21, @01:43PM

      by art guerrilla (3082) on Saturday January 21, @01:43PM (#456960)

      better get used to subscription mode, because it is all the rage among the rentier klass...
      in fact, our company is changing from autocad to an autocad-clone for that reason, among others...

      oh, when i worked for another company that did have the subscription model in place for a whole raft of autodesk products, we never had any issues with the licenses not working right... /s

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Lester on Saturday January 21, @05:06PM

        by Lester (6231) on Saturday January 21, @05:06PM (#457015)

        No problem?

        Find the differences:

        1. I use this product because it's the only in the market the fullfills my needs. They know it and abuse. But, well, it works and it's the best in the market.
        2. I use this product because if I don't I will lose all the work I've been doing for years. They know it and abuse. Now there are better things in the market, but I can't throw into the bin half of my life.

        This is the trick of boiling slowly a frog. Let's not get used, it's now the moment of saying NO, in a few years it could be too late.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @03:50AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @03:50AM (#457248)

          The /s at the end was for "sarcasm". Just like a smiley can change the meaning.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by jmorris on Saturday January 21, @10:42PM

      by jmorris (4844) <{jmorris} {at} {}> on Saturday January 21, @10:42PM (#457126)

      Even worse is the subscription model quickly imposes the forced upgrade treadmill. And once they have that they ALWAYS start making changes users hate. Before they couldn't because they had to compete with the older version, once they have forced upgrades though..... lets just say their 'creativity' is unleashed.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by BsAtHome on Saturday January 21, @12:48PM

    by BsAtHome (889) on Saturday January 21, @12:48PM (#456946)

    The good change in Eagle was the use of XML formatted storage, which makes it much simpler to migrate away. There are already a couple of automatic conversion scripts that take Eagle input and create KiCad output. Time to get the scripts more foolproof and never ever look back to Eagle.

    Free software is the only way to ensure that you can use your work 25+ years from now. If you now used 10% of your licensing costs to support FOSS, then it would be much better than anything else. Don't wait, migrate to FOSS and don't look back.

    • (Score: 2) by sgleysti on Saturday January 21, @06:47PM

      by sgleysti (56) on Saturday January 21, @06:47PM (#457041)

      I purchased a copy of the size-limited $70 version of Eagle over a year ago. I am going to look into switching to KiCAD today; I had thought about trying it before but never had the impetus.

      The main thing I would want to convert over is "packages" or part footprints, as entering them takes some time. Fortunately, I've only done hobbyist stuff with Eagle, and I don't think I would rebuild any of the projects that I've already done, as I would prefer start over and do them better.

      Any other tips for getting started with KiCAD?

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @08:30PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @08:30PM (#457084)

        Brian Benchoff, the honcho at Hackaday, has been doing a series called Creating A PCB In Everything.
        I would have titled it Creating A PCB Using _________.
        He has gone through a few ECAD packages so far.
        Last month, he did Part 3 of 3 on KiCAD. []

        WRT the previous mention of importing EAGLE files:
        KiCAD Import formats, esp. EAGLE [] (orig) []
        Their crappy forum software/configuration doesn't allow me to index that page down to the comment by RWB.
        Anool there mentions (as does BsAtHome in this (meta)thread) that the tools still needs a bit of polish to avoid hand work.

        -- OriginalOwner_ []

  • (Score: 2) by requerdanos on Saturday January 21, @01:33PM

    by requerdanos (5997) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 21, @01:33PM (#456955) Journal

    Out of curiosity, vs. Eagle, is Kicad...

    (a) Barely suitable as a replacement,

    (b) Somewhat suitable as a replacement but some things don't work/can't really be done,

    (c) A good replacement, albeit with a different workflow,


    (d) A pretty much drop-in replacement?

    The Free Software Foundation has as a stated goal, to be able to do your computing with libre software, and as such, this answer matters as to whether that's possible in this case. Four days ago they sent members an e-mail about their high-priority projects [] list. If the answer is (a) or (b), then some feedback to them about support for this project becoming higher in priority might be in order.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Saturday January 21, @01:53PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 21, @01:53PM (#456964)

      B, C, and D are the same answer for the same people in the same situation depending on grouchy level.

      So I'd take the answer B/C/D.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday January 21, @07:50PM

        by HiThere (866) on Saturday January 21, @07:50PM (#457071)

        No. They're the answer to the same question for different people with different usage needs. But the grouchiness level does also matter.

        Put not your faith in princes.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @10:09PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @10:09PM (#457116)

      It's not that simple a comparison because the free version of EAGLE has a size and layer count limitation; KiCAD is unlimited from the get-go. KiCAD is primitive compared to $$$$ suites, but perfectly functional; I don't think EAGLE is particularly advanced by comparison.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @11:09PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @11:09PM (#457135)

        the [freeware] version of EAGLE has a size and layer count limitation

        ...and, if you squint real hard at my attempt at a summary, you'll notice that the new equivalent of the old $69 version has been dropped to 2 copper layers (same as the freeware version).

        I didn't mention it in the summary and no one else has brought it up yet either but there is another FOSS ECAD called gEDA [] (GPL'd Electronics Design Automation) which started as an Amiga app and is popular with a significant segment of PCB guys.
        It has been described as not especially noob-friendly but extremely powerful in the hands of a seasoned user.

        -- OriginalOwner_ []

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, @12:10AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, @12:10AM (#457482)

      > Out of curiosity, vs. Eagle, is Kicad...

      I find (a). KiCAD is pretty good. I used it a while back on a large(ish) hobby board. It took some getting used to.

      The newer versions have come leaps and bounds. I still don't like how it manages/edits component libraries, but that's a mostly one-off cost on each project.

      KiCAD feels familiar to the workflow that I like (I came from Protel99 and the places I was working stuck with it for a very long time because it was so good - it just got out of your way and let you work). It's too bad some of its keyboard shortcuts are chorded (shift-P, for example) and require me to take my right hand off the mouse for common actions. I don't do enough in KiCAD to have started working out whether they can be changed.

      Switch to it. Dump the malware that Eagle has just become. That, or just don't upgrade your old perpetual licensed version if it's doing everything you need. You'll be happy enough. The only problem I have with KiCAD is that a lot of places (E14, SparkFun, Adafruit, Arduino, RPi, etc) still have Eagle files available on their sites. Not a deal breaker, but it is an extra step to getting things done when I needed to convert something. The conversion somehow feels risky and requires a lot of manual checking.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @03:30PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @03:30PM (#456985)

    I hadn't realised that Autodesk had gotten their ugly mitts on Eagle, I've not done any circuit design for a while so have been out of that particular loop for a bit (besides, I've a licensed copy of v5 somewhere on one of the systems which I assume wont mysteriously 'expire', and I've still got an unholy attachment to the DOS version of Orcad...), I do, however use another product [] on a daily basis that they acquired which has similarly gone to a subscription model...this has royally pissed me off as the manglement refused to purchase another couple of copies before this change happened (I'd gotten advanced warning from someone who worked with the original writers of the code)

    Haven't touched Autocad for years, almost all my 2D stuff is done on DraftSight, and the stuff which isn't, is done in Corel..

    Just as well all my linux boxes have Kicad etc on them as part of my default install.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @04:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @04:21PM (#457001)

      I'm curious how this is even legal. Autodesk is the largest player in this market space, the numbnuts that approved this acquisition should be sacked and forced to give the public back what they allowed to be stolen from the public.

      CAD products are extremely expensive, removing competition to keep the prices down is really not good for the public. The people using this software will mostly continue to use it as they're in most cases businesses, but this is going to put a lot of undo strain on smaller firms. The worst thing, is that this isn't Trump making America great again with rightwing economic policy, this is that sell out Obama's people approving it.

      • (Score: 2) by butthurt on Sunday January 22, @01:52AM

        by butthurt (6141) on Sunday January 22, @01:52AM (#457214) Journal

        They have a product called AutoCAD Electrical, but it doesn't appear to be intended for PCB design. []

        AutoCAD itself has been used for that purpose. I'm guessing that it would be tedious to use for a large project due to, I'm assuming, no auto-routing or auto-placement capability. []

        What I'm trying to say is that PCB layout software is a specialised type of CAD software which AFAIK Autodesk did not offer before.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @08:27AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @08:27AM (#457285)

          tedious to use [...] no auto-routing or auto-placement

          A lack of PCB-specific Design Rules Check / Electrical Rules Check would seem to disqualify it from the start.

          -- OriginalOwner_ []

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @09:50PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @09:50PM (#457105)

      my 2D stuff is done on DraftSight and [...] Corel

      It's a shame that the complications of the dual-license of Qt (before Nokia bought Trolltech and made that Free Software) hampered the wide popularity of QCAD.

      It also took a while for the other various FOSS CAD packages (colored baby blue)[1] [] to gain features and their popularity suffered.

      [1] DraftSight is missing from that page.
      As a user, you may want to add that with all the particulars.

      vrkalak was once a regular contributor to the Linux Mint forum.
      He's a (now retired) architect who made a point of mentioning that he made his living using only FOSS.
      An Architect Identifies The Best Linux-Compatible Mechanical CADs [] (orig) []
      The original title of that page mentions (closed-source freeware) DraftSight.


      It makes me wince when guys running a FOSS OS use closed-source payware.

      -- OriginalOwner_ []

    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Sunday January 22, @06:23AM

      by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 22, @06:23AM (#457276)

      I know all too well your unholy devotion to old friends. With me, its Futurenet Dash-2 and Pads PCB for DOS.

      Its all about knowing I can still read/modify/write files I created a quarter-century ago. And this access will exist for as long as I live.

      Programs once running on the 8086 will still run in DOS emulators on modern machines, albeit I have quite a few 386SX I have kept around expressly to run these natively. I particularly liked the 386SX because of its low power consumption and had no fan required, and the motherboards I saved were made with components designed to last at least a century if protected from the weather.

      Its been a common observation of mine that those higher up in the administrative levels of corporations have not the foggiest idea of just how valuable the wiring diagrams to their infrastructure are.

      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Rich on Saturday January 21, @04:44PM

    by Rich (945) on Saturday January 21, @04:44PM (#457009)

    I did a bit of schematic capture last year, for a project of about two double Euro size PCBs, with about 8 sheets each. I started with KiCad right away, after an engineer at a customer suggested it, partly as an educational measure, partly because I could move stuff between Linux and Mac without effort. So, given the article topic, going the FOSS way, even if it might be a bit rockier, was very wise in retrospect.

    I did my drawing on a Retina Macbook Pro. Nice graphics, but boy, does this CAD stuff suck wrt to usability. Laptops have had two-finger scrolling for over 10 years now, and all KiCad does on a two finger sweep is a totally uncontrollable zoom. Not only not what you'd expect, but even the unexpected completely unusable. I've had to do the trick with copying the sheet-file content to move some components between sheets, because there is no clipboard support. Yup. Year 2017 and no clipboard in a document based productivity app. Seriously, folks?!

    KiCad is not alone in this, LTSpice is as bad, although in different ways, and I heard Eagle isn't too amazing in that department as well. I once concluded that this is, because CAD was the only area where graphical computers were seriously used before the Mac came along in 1984 with its HIG, and they've been ignoring the standardized ways of "Hey you, do that" back then and ever since and stuck to a "verb first" logic (with Autocad and its command line mechanism being the prime offender).

    But I guess, with Eagle dropping out, it'll be one or two GSoCs until the worst things are sorted. I look forward to that. Until then, some slapping of the forehead might be part of the workflow, but hey, the work gets done. And I also look forward to doing the PCBs with the KiCAD "push&shove" router, which is said to be greatly effective for good results.

    Still, if I had too much time on my hands, I'd write a schematic capture application that conforms to reasonable classic HIG (I already did two similar applications for a vertical market customer one-off thing before, one was for plumbing the graph of a complex fluid simulation, so it really is some kind of itch...).

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @10:21PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @10:21PM (#457121)

      boy, does this CAD stuff suck wrt to usability

      ...and each one in a different way.

      I heard Eagle isn't too amazing in that department

      EAGLE was initially developed before Windoze was a thing.
      Windoze users think that the EAGLE UI is completely bass-ackwards.

      [CAD devs have] been ignoring the standardized ways

      You got it in 1.

      with Eagle dropping out

      You have overstated the case.
      Autodesk has promised (mentioned in TFA) that the subscription model will bring improvements in service.
      I won't hold my breath, but there are lots of folks who have already given money for the DRM'd/marginally-supported product.
      Hey, there are tons of folks who use Windoze knowing full-well that it is a malware magnet.
      ...and file-format lock-in can be a powerful thing.

      Still, if I had too much time on my hands, I'd write a schematic capture application that conforms to reasonable classic HIG

      Perhaps just a work-alike UI for an existing CAD app would accomplish what you desire.
      I lost touch with sci.electronics.cad years ago, but I seem to recall talk of someone doing this.
      (Kinda like GIMPshop.)

      -- OriginalOwner_ []

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @11:40PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @11:40PM (#457152)

      Autocad and its command line work great when used in the traditional way.

      You can do "noun first" now, since roughly version 13 in roughly 1992, but it sucks. It just doesn't work very well. The old way lets you easily mix mouse clicks and typing, making the best use of each.

      At least for CAD, and maybe for other stuff, the rest of the world is what is wrong.

      • (Score: 2) by Rich on Sunday January 22, @03:27PM

        by Rich (945) on Sunday January 22, @03:27PM (#457343)

        Autocad and its command line work great when used in the traditional way.

        ..once that way is firmly and irreversibly etched into the spinal matter of the operator. (Same as with Blender, for example, which may be rather efficient once mastered, but comes with its infamous learning curve.)

        The academic reasoning for verb-first is given by Raskin, The Humane Interface, pp.59, 3-3 Noun-Verb versus Verb-Noun Constructions. While that guy generally was a bit too full of himself, he's basically right as far as the locus-of-attention disrupting modes are concerned.

        But the kinetics of reluctance to change go a very long way. If they didn't, we'd all have RPN calculators now :)

        • (Score: 2) by Rich on Sunday January 22, @03:30PM

          by Rich (945) on Sunday January 22, @03:30PM (#457345)

          Argh. Sorry. Raskin did argue for NOUN-first, of course.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Post-Nihilist on Saturday January 21, @10:10PM

    by Post-Nihilist (5672) on Saturday January 21, @10:10PM (#457117) Journal

    If KiCad is good enough for the LHC it should be good enough for you !
    A colleague of mine is building a board with it for an espresso machine upgrade and so far the coffe is good !

    I brush my teeth like a nihilist !
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @10:33PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21, @10:33PM (#457125)

    "a subscription model means you never actually own the software"

    pull your head out! you use slaveware, you're a slave. they're just giving you a friendly reminder.

  • (Score: 1) by tftp on Saturday January 21, @11:51PM

    by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 21, @11:51PM (#457157) Homepage

    I started using Eagle professionally in about 1999 and bought a license for Linux. It worked fine for me at that time. But pretty soon - within a few years - I started hitting serious walls: can't do this, can't do that... and splurged on Mentor Graphics' PADS (DxDesigner + PADS {Layout,Router} + HyperLynx + IODesigner.) Day and night! Even though PADS is not the top notch package - it is somewhat middle class. I'm still using PADS, it is VX now, staying with 1.2 as of today, not upgrading yet because of the workflow. It does what I need - and there is something else that is very important: a bunch of contractors support PADS and can do decals, symbols, layout for us. Eagle? Not so much. Most never even heard about the thing, even though many know and have OrCAD/Allegro, Altium, Expedition...

    Eagle was weird. It had so many unusual UI elements that I had to learn how to use the GUI! That right-click was terrible! Eagle also had some defaults set to "do not work" out of the box; for example, it did not tent the vias. All in all, it was suitable for small, simple boards, but if you do anything more complex... may the gods of silicon heaven pity your soul.

    Recently one of our contractors brought to me a design done in Eagle (a modern one.) I had to look at it... what a mess! And the design had some serious layout issues that PADS would have detected. If we go to production with this design, the PCBs will be redone in PADS. And the schematic too. Modern DxD is so much better! Sure, it costs money; expect to pay from $5K to 9K for the package, depending on the options. But for a commercial entity this is just the cost of doing business. May be not so for a ham, a hacker or a non-profit - too bad. A lot of labor went into the creation and ongoing maintenance of this package. It certainly is worth the price.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @12:07AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @12:07AM (#457162)

      $5K to 9K for the package [...] this is just the cost of doing business

      ...until the proprietary software company decides that they aren't making enough money and jack up the prices|changes the license terms|yada,yada,yada.

      ...or they make a new "better" product that is incompatible with the old product then discontinue the old product.

      ...or another company buys up the company|product and discontinues it in favor of their own cash cow.

      Proprietary software sucks--and, like so many things in the post-Reagan era, it's getting WORSE.

      -- OriginalOwner_ []

      • (Score: 1) by tftp on Sunday January 22, @12:26AM

        by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 22, @12:26AM (#457174) Homepage

        Proprietary software sucks--and, like so many things in the post-Reagan era, it's getting WORSE.

        You need to keep in mind that businesses are not trying for the best possible outcome. They need solution that works here and now. PADS does offer a subscription for updates, and we have them (we have several seats.) As new versions come out we migrate. This is not difficult -- can't say about any and all commercial products, but this one is pretty stable. The cost of subscription is part of our overhead expenses, just as the rent and the utilities. The only thing that matters for a business is the difference between profit and expenses!

        With regard to quality, most commercial products are far better than most free products. This is simply because commercial ISVs can hire the people to do the grunt work - something that F/OSS people cannot do, and very few volunteer to spend several years of their lives to develop a single-use algorithm for a very special industrial application. The case of Eagle is a good illustration here - Cadsoft kept the minimal version of the product free and charged some small money (under $100?) for a full build. This is not enough to hire enough programmers to do all that a modern PCB CAD package ought to do. This is not enough to get rid of the arcane GUI and rebuild it into something usable (see Altium - it's their specialty.) And here is the result - they are stuck with the old software and no money in the end. I'd rather take the expensive s/w that keeps developing and stays around as opposed to entry-level package that gets obsoleted and the company goes belly up, leaving me where? As they say, the devil that you know is always better - especially the devil that shares your own (business's) values and understands your needs.

        • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @02:58AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @02:58AM (#457231)

          That assumes, once again, that

          1) the product isn't discontinued instead.
          2) what is offered is compatible with the old stuff.
          3) the "improved" stuff isn't an unusable steaming pile.

          ...and, with corporations putting time bombs in the software|requiring an internet connection|whatever, your option to use the old version of "your" proprietary software is disappearing.

          commercial ISVs can hire the people to do the grunt work

          A major aspect of FOSS development is a guy "scratching an itch".
          Once he's contented with his effort, he stops.
          (Ken Starks, who had his dodgy larynx removed, ran into this with a text-to-speech app.) []

          If there is no developer who thinks that -your- itch is worthy of being addressed, what you gonna do?

          It's clear to me that the bounty system on bugs|new features should be used much more.
          Is there a shortcoming in your FOSS software that really grinds your gears?
          I'll bet you're not the only one that it irritates.

          Every FOSS project should have a Bounty Page on the project's site.
          It should be dirt-simple to organize funding for a fix.
          Kickstarter has been a thing for quite a white now; the notion is widely known.

          ...and the whole Bounty paradigm should be played up more by FOSS advocates.
          Y'all feel free to use my Bounty Page notion in your advocacy.

          -- OriginalOwner_ []

          • (Score: 1) by tftp on Sunday January 22, @05:35AM

            by tftp (806) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 22, @05:35AM (#457266) Homepage

            The "bounty" is a prototype of a full-blown commercial enterprise.

            The "bounty" approach also suffers from the tragedy of commons. If the product is going to be free, nobody wants to pay for its development. Everyone prefers to sit back and wait until someone else pays, or until the developers get around to fix the problem on their own accord. As an example, there is no direct, drop-in F/OSS replacement of Quicken/Quickbooks. The GUI is not hard... what is hard is to sign agreements with 100s of banks to use their online account access system. How easy, do you think, it is for a F/OSS developer to get a bank's API? What kind of demands would a bank place on the ISV's code that can reach into bank's databases and fetch/post transactions? Sometimes you just need to be a corporation to sign binding agreements - and then to live up to them. To produce tax reports for millions of people and then be responsible for their accuracy.

            There definitely are a few companies that hire workers to do F/OSS development. But there are too few of them, and their business model is based on services; the product is a loss leader, the enticement, the vehicle for a larger deal. But even then people often are displeased with the direction of the company... RH is kind of a thing in itself; Mozilla became a SJW nest and is going who knows where (I don't use their products anymore); Ubuntu produced Unity...

            Overall, I understand your main concern: if you don't have access to the code you cannot be sure that you can run the thing. And those concerns are not without merit - see Win8/Win10 for example, poor, unusable things. But that can be dealt with commercially, on the same basis that new Linux distributions (Mint) spring up when the parent codebase (Ubuntu) veers off. The only difference is money, and it is not a key factor for a business. Quality is, reliability, fitness for the duty. Not too many F/OSS projects qualify here. You can compare SublimeEdit and Atom, for example... the former is good to go; the latter doesn't even run anymore on one of my computers.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @08:17AM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @08:17AM (#457284)

              You're showing your Reactionary streak.

              That phrase is an invention of The Bourgeoisie.
              For the hundreds of years when Feudalism was in decline and The Commons were actually common, that phrase didn't exist.
              It is Reactionary propaganda that arose after the Enclosure Acts, which privatized land ownership of that which had, up to that point, been freely accessible by all.

              I find it sad that every kid hasn't heard the story of Stone Soup. []
              Everyone contributes a small amount and everybody gets a nice meal.

              I have already mentioned Kickstarter, which has repeatedly demonstrated that the concept works.

              The "bounty" is a prototype of a full-blown commercial enterprise.

              As already stated, your Reactionary streak is showing.
              This is people collectively using what they have (small amounts of money) to achieve a common goal.
              It's "commercial" in the same way that a community chest is. /sarc

              Sometimes you just need to be a corporation

              That's just about enough of your Reactionary swill.

              money [...] is not a key factor for a business

              Now, you've doubled back and are arguing with your original point.
              That's comical.

              There are lots of folks here who do not share your worship of megacorporations.
              I'm one.

              -- OriginalOwner_ []

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Sunday January 22, @07:09AM

        by anubi (2828) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 22, @07:09AM (#457280)

        My fear is running these kind of subscription programs under Windows 10. I already had the pleasure of fixing problems that FTDI caused me by the nuking of some of my stuff by using the Microsoft Update system. My response was to redesign the PCB's to use the Chinese CH340 chip in lieu of the FTDI chip. I was very concerned that FTDI had grown so concerned with DRM that my concerns like whether or not my customer's stuff worked was of no importance anymore, leaving me holding the bag full of disgruntled customers.

        I also disabled the Windows Update system in my WIN7 machines. Yes, I know maybe there is some viruses I am not protected against now, but I feel I am safe enough using these isolated machines to just do design work on, and they won't see the internet ( albeit they are networked to each other ). There is an air gap between that subnet and the internet. I use USB sticks/drives to transfer data files to/from internet - connected machines. Not completely secure, but I think I have a much less chance of coming in one day to discover none of my machines work because they got some surprise midnight upload from Microsoft.

        Also, each machine gets its own CloneZilla backup disk just in case. I simply no longer trust Microsoft, Apple, Google, or Linux. Mostly because the systems have grown so complex that I no longer understand what each file is for and how it works. You could do anything conceivable to my DOS systems, and as long as you did not destroy the hardware, I would bob right back up. I tried to hold on under WIN95, but these latest systems, I am completely lost in ignorance, with the fear that my ignorance of how my stuff works will be used against me. All this DRM crap coming in on top of additional system complexities has simply overwhelmed me. I live in fear, like when I am required to sign legal contracts I have not read.

        I feel that Windows 10, like Android, is mostly usable as an internet superhighway access device, much like I do not need to know how my car works to use the Interstate Highway system. I just bought some Android tablets that seem usable to me mostly as a device to find and buy stuff on the internet. I can't easily program the thing to do anything for me. That is what Arduinos are for.

        I fear the Microsoft Update System will be used to enforce updates, with the customer's access to his own files to be held hostage, kinda like a legal cryptolocker.

        Big corporations seem to have little problem with delivering problems, but when we little guys deliver stuff that does not work, we spend all of our time making good on our promises, and soon go out of business.

        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]