Available for download: This text as pdf document
Sustainable Free Software:
From project to permanent activity, using the example Gpg4win
Intevation GmbH, Neuer Graben 17, 49074 Osnabrück
Tel: 0541/33508-30, Fax:
Translated from the German original by Brigitte Hamilton.
at June 2006, October 5, 2007 draft (Webversion: September 30, 2008)
(Translation from the German draft: October 5, 2007)
1 Summary 2
2 Introduction 3
3 Methodology 3
4 General success factors for Free
Software projects 4
4.2 Examples of
successful projects 7
4.2.1 Apache 7
4.2.2 Samba 7
5 Examination of approaches to date
for GnuPG Windows Installer 8
5.1 GnuPP 8
5.1.1 History 8
5.1.3 Problems 9
Privacy Tools 9
5.2.1 History 9
5.2.3 Problems 10
5.3 GnuPT 10
5.3.1 History 10
5.3.3 Problems 11
5.4.1 History 11
5.4.3 Problems 11
6 Gpg4win successes to date 12
7 Possible courses of action 12
7.2 Tasks and/or
required activities 14
7.3 Estimate of
costs for required activities 14
7.6 What can a
one-time monetary contribution achieve? 16
8 Conclusions and recommendations 18
and integration 18
Appendix A: Concrete recommendations
for action 20
A.1 As a volunteer
A.2 As a financial
Anyone investing in the development of Free Software (Open Source)
usually wants to achieve a long-lasting effect despite a limited
budget. In addition, the promotion of open and independent further
development is also an objective.
Using the encryption solution "Gpg4win", measures that can
achieve this goal will be discussed. Starting point of the study is
the analysis of to-date initiatives that are comparable to the
Windows version of GnuPG software.
Two key factors emerge:
Integration of additional individuals, up to a balanced participant
A motivation and qualification process should be established for
allocating and placing the necessary competencies. The promotion of
commercial stakeholders is an ideal complement to this process. The
long-term objective is the financing of a professional management for
a portion of the required activities. The path leading to this
objective must be made possible and also well communicated.
How this could work for Gpg4win will be shown below. The technical
progress achieved with Gpg4win's forms a basis for these measures. A
slow withdrawal from an investment would be ideal, so that at each
time other participants could take over.
This short study was put together parallel to the product "Gpg4win".
Gpg4win is an installation package for Microsoft Windows which
contains numerous help programs and extensive German documentation
besides the actual encryption application "GnuPG". The
objective of this project is to improve the usability of the
encryption software GnuPG and to therefore facilitate the use and
operation of cryptography for laymen computer users. For this
purpose, in addition to the simple installation of the software, the
integration of the command line tool GnuPG into graphics user
interfaces such as "Outlook 2003" and "Sylpheed Claws"
is also promoted.
In this way Gpg4win intends to replace the outdated GnuPP,
which has not been updated for a while. It is hoped that such a
standstill situation can be avoided for Gpg4win. The objective of
this short study is to discuss the corresponding measures.
Version 1.0 of Gpg4win has updated the software. This short study
suggests a strategy of how a self-sustaining project can develop. The
goal is to facilitate a more sustained further development of
Starting point for the short study are the general success factors
for Free Software projects, as well as the problems regarding an
sustainable further development of GnuPP, Windows Privacy Tools
and comparable approaches.
While this study is concerned with Gpg4win, more general conclusions
may also be drawn, especially for products which are the result of a
bigger project and are targeted towards Microsoft Windows as the
basic operating system.
In the end, this study intends to highlight the issues. even though
there are a number of additional aspects that are also worthy of
examination but could not be mentioned or discussed. As a result this
short study is meant as a starting point and motivating factor for
thinking about the kind of questions which need to be asked regarding
the sustained existence of Free Software products.
The course of action used in this short study includes the following
Search for comparable projects.
Investigation of publicly available information of comparable
projects, establishing contacts where possible.
Compilation of success factors for Free Software projects.
Analysis and comparison of Gpg4win and other comparable projects
using the authors' experiences and success factors.
A search of the literature regarding the main content areas "Free
Software in Windows", "Security Software" or
"Structure and sustainability as a result of a commercial
development project" did not yield any helpful results, whether
in English or German. The literature is mainly limited to
technological success factors for Free Software initiatives and the
development of individual business models on the basis of Free
Also included in this study are the many years of experience by the
authors with Free Software, a topic with which they have dealt with
exclusively and professionally since 1999. The authors have carried
out a number of different projects for e-mail encryption with GnuPG
4 General success factors for Free Software projects
What is a "Free Software Project"?
Free Software is software which is accompanied with a permanent
authorisation that it can be used by anyone for any purpose. The
distribution, improvement and copying of improvements of the software
is also allowed. Here Free Software is used analogous to the term
used by the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE). Other terms for
Free Software are "Open Source" or "Libre Software".
In its original connotation, a project is a one-time undertaking.
This meaning has changed somewhat for Free Software, as it no longer
signifies just a one-time undertaking, but usually a sustained
activity around a software, whereby the latter is created and further
developed and maintained for an indefinite period of time. Besides
the actual software, documentation, infrastructure, availability of
information and participants also form a part of this activity.
For each software project a number of different tasks must be carried
out on a regular basis. The activity is said to function when these
tasks are assumed by those who are directly involved. According to
literature, participants in a Free Software project can be divided
into four large groups:
Organisations/Businesses that are involved for their own purposes
Commissioned service providers
Individuals that involved in their free time
Research and education facilities for testing and demonstration
See (Lakhani et al. 2002)
and (Reiter 2004) in German.
As a result, the following applies to each functioning Free Software
Someone interested in Free Software can participate in two ways:
contributing time/labour or money. The amount can be freely chosen.
At the same time, tasks can only be carried out with labour, while
contributed funds must be converted into labour. This brings up the
question regarding qualification and business model.
4.1 Participant structure
A successful Free Software project is
characterised by a balanced cooperation of participants, as shown in
Figure 1. As a rule, adjacent layers communicate actively with each
other, for example, contributors with power users and developers.
1: Participant make-up of a successful Free Software project: The
pyramid structure is composed of a broad basis of users, out of
which power users, contributors, developers and core developers lead
towards the development coordinator.
Normal users of the software. They obtain information and advice from
the documentation and from other, usually active, users.
A user with more extensive technical know-how and knowledge, who uses
the software more intensively than a normal user and assists others
with operating the software. Usually power users are registered on
the respective mailing lists or forums and will also answer questions
from other users.
A contributor makes a regular and active contribution to the
respective Free Software project, however not usually with regards to
source codes, but rather by assuming other activities such as writing
documentation, testing experimental versions or formulation of
Participants who in conjunction with others or independently carry
out regular improvements to the software's source code. These
improvements often include bug fixing or other small functional
Participating developers who possess good knowledge of the software's
architecture and are actively involved in its further development.
The individual in the circle of core developers who has the final
word on decisions regarding architecture, the inclusion of new
functions or similar items. This is not usually a position involving
authoritative characteristics, but rather concerns the tasks of
moderating discussions regarding architecture and functionalities.
Issues regarding the rights, duties, election and replacement of the
coordinator are handled differently in many Free Software projects.
In the very rare event of a dissent that cannot be resolved, the Free
Software project is split into two projects.
The qualification and integration processes are very important for
Free Software activities. If a project is able to turn users into
power users, and power users into contributors etc., the result is an
additional motivation as well as support for the original core
developers. They are then able to push forward the product per se and
thus concentrate on work that directly benefits users.
Because of the type of structures that developed it is very difficult
to directly recruit a core developer or developer. An individual must
grow into this leadership position. For this reason, a large number
of users is an important factor as it forms the basis for the
integration. There are conventional ways of increasing the number of
users and popularise the respective Free Software activities - in the
case of Free Software, attaining new users is achieved mainly through
globalisation, entry into different software indices and through
personal contact on mailing lists and meetings.
The transition from the first management group to the second is a
critical item for each Free Software activity. Many times it is a
very specific person who started and instilled life into the project.
At some point this person loses interest in the software or is no
longer able to continue working on it and must transfer
responsibility for the project. At this point it becomes very evident
whether there is enough critical mass to form a new management group.
A positive aspect is if the work was already previously divided among
several individuals. Hence, the broader the pyramid in Figure 1, the
In order to participate in the qualification process, participants
must be motivated to do so. In the case of volunteers it is clear
that a certain level of enthusiasm or fun is helpful.
According to Lakhani et al., the following are the most common
motivations for developing Free Software:
Improvement of own skills and knowledge
Improvement of personal work processes
Freedom of being able to modify the program.
A good infrastructure can be helpful for bundling communication
requirements. This includes an appropriate amount of mailing lists,
forums, websites, ticket systems for bug lists and requests, and an
open version monitoring system.
Both infrastructure and software/documentation must make it
relatively easy for interested individuals to participate.
Unnecessary difficulties should be avoided, this applies both to
technical, language and organisational aspects.
of successful projects
The following two examples describe successful Free Software
projects, the reasons for their success and how they differ from
With over 60% market share,
the web server "Apache" has been a worldwide leading
product for years. Apache was Free Software from the beginning and
was further developed and improved by responsible system
administrators one step at a time. Almost all work done on Apache was
the result of concrete technical and in part urgently required
requirements. These requirements originated mainly from a series of
businesses which use the web server intensively.
The large number of users and developers led to the creation of the
Apache Software Foundation
(ASF). It now supports and coordinates over 30 individual projects in
the area of web-based services. In total there are over 1,000 active
developers registered with ASF.
Certainly, decisive success factors include the existence of actual
technical requirements and the fact that the users, hence also the
administrators, are highly qualified on a technical level. Many users
are capable of carrying out their own analysis and fixing of errors.
Furthermore users and developers are able to use Apache on the
software/hardware system they are familiar with, which is an
additional motivating factor.
In contract, Gpg4win users usually have less technical
qualifications. Obviously, one reason for this is that Gpg4win is a
program for end users rather than a server application which is
geared towards administrators.
Furthermore, Gpg4win automatically specifies the operating system.
Gpg4win does not present a real challenge to programmers, since as a
meta project it is not directed towards actual programming. Results
obtained from other projects (e.g. GnuPG) are also taken in.
Samba is a Free Software implementation of data and print services
for SMB/CIFS clients. SMB and CIFS are proprietary protocols of
Microsoft. A Samba installation can seamlessly replace both a
respective Windows client or Windows server for data and printing
services, i.e. without the other systems in the network knowing or
even being aware of its presence. At the same time it represents a
bridge to data and printing services under GNU/Linux.
In many companies Samba has replaced data servers by Microsoft or
Novell. It is used anywhere where mixed environments consisting of
GNU/Linux and Windows work places exist, and in part even in pure
The decisive success factor for Samba is the very real interest of
many companies in utilising this solution. In addition, in its role
as data server it also presents a critical application for almost all
companies. which also means that budgets for this purpose will exist,
which explains why there are now a number of companies which offer
services for Samba. Some of these companies will also have employees
who focus on the improvement and further development of Samba.
In contrast to the Apache project there are significantly fewer
administrators who are technically qualified to independently carry
out improvements to Samba.
In contrast to a data server, the encryption of e-mails is not
considered a critical application for most companies. For this reason
there are smaller budgets for maintenance and support contracts. In
the case of Gpg4win it is more difficult for a commercial market to
develop as easily and quickly as for Samba, because the latter was
more suited for commercialisation due to its key significance for
5 Examination of approaches to date for GnuPG
An examination of approaches developed to date includes a historical
perspective and in particular takes into account possible causes why
a sustained independent solution through other projects could not be
established to date.
At the end of 1999 the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology
began a promotional project with the objective of porting GnuPG to
Windows, developing graphic user interfaces and preparing good
quality German documentation.
The name of the project was "Free Software and IT Security".
The major participants were G-N-U GmbH (development), Werner Koch
Software-Systeme (replaced by OpenIT GmbH, development) and Linuxland
International (marketing). Project manager was GUUG e.V. Intevation
GmbH (project management and development) joined during the end phase
of the project. One individual took over the project management
function for the first number of months but left early on without
The project was finished successfully in 2000 and was subsequently
presented at exhibitions. Also developed as part of the project were
the graphics key manager Gnu Privacy Assistant (GPA), a revised
GnuPG, the German web pages www.gnupg.de, the Gnu Privacy handbook in
German and English, the crypto-programming library GpgME, several
feasibility analyses on the integration into different e-mail
programs, and integration into the e-mail program Sylpheed. Other
items worthy of mention include the development of WinPT (support for
the operation of the Windows clipboard for encryption purposes) and
the Gdata Outlook plug-in for the use of GnuPG in the e-mail program
Outlook. Both products were independently contributed by third
parties and are therefore to be considered as a collateral benefit.
As part of subsequent financial
support the project is renamed "GnuPP" (Gnu Privacy
Project). GnuPP lasted from May 2001 to March 2002. The main
objective and result of this project are an updated installation
packet (GnuPP 1.1) as well as extensive illustrated handbooks, which
were also published in brochure form at considerable print volumes
(CD with brochure "GnuPP for Novices"). In addition, a
project home page under www.gnupp.de was also created (although
significantly reduced since that time), as were a user forum in the
form of a mailing list and an automatic system (e-mail correspondence
robot "Adele") for testing purposes. The latter is used in
line with the tutorial in "GnuPP for Novices".
As far as is known, only G-N-U
GmbH was commissioned and participated. Brochures and
illustrations were prepared by outside service providers.
The web page, mailing list and correspondence robot "Adele"
are still active. The installation packet GnuPP 1.1 is no longer
offered as a download, whereas "Novices" and "Experts"
are still available (as PDF documents).
The installation packet GnuPP can still be downloaded from different
5.1.2 User acceptance
Initial user acceptance and attention for GnuPP can be characterised
The mailing list shows the following volumes: 2002: 881 e-mails,
2003: 877, 2004: 671, 2005: approx. 200. Almost 500 individuals were
active participants, while the number of registered persons is not
The CD and brochure were published in a first edition in March 2002.
The volume of the print run is not known, but is likely not less than
5,000 copies. A second edition was considered but subsequently
abandoned. The reasons for this are not known.
Both GPA as well as GnuPP are not official projects under the GNU
although the name would suggest as much. Only GnuPG itself is an
official GNU project.
It is thought that the lack of additional financial support caused
G-N-U GmbH to stop offering active support at the end of 2002,
although the company continues to operate the website and automated
processes (user forum and "Adele").
There were increasing incidents of problem reports on the mailing
lists, and while they were partially corrected in the components
themselves (e.g. GnuPG by the GnuPG developer team), no updated
installation packets were made available.
Neither the source code for the installer nor instructions for the
assembly of an installer were provided on a general basis. However,
it stands to reason that the sources were made available on explicit
requests. Still, it must be mentioned that in the end an update of
GnuPP by third parties never took place.
Within the context of GnuPP there are no visible activities that are
designed to interest and enable those with technical knowledge in
order to entrust them with the updating of the installer or web page.
It must be concluded then that this was not a declared objective of
In the meantime the GnuPP 1.1 installation packet has become
hopelessly out of date with regard to the integrated components.
5.2 Windows Privacy Tools
The project Windows Privacy Tools
(somewhat confusingly, its acronym WinPT is the same as the
integrated software Windows Privacy Tray,
hence the former will subsequently be abbreviated as P-WinPT)
was registered on the software development platform Sourceforge in
January 2003, therefore at a time at which GnuPP no longer
demonstrated any further development. The driving force behind this
effort was an individual from Canada.
Objectives and requirements corresponded roughly with the GnuPP
project, however with an additional focus on good multilingual
support, i.e. globalisation. An English-language handbook was also
prepared. The most recent version (2003) of the handbook has approx.
40 pages and describes the installation and operation of WinPT, GnuPG
and several plug-ins for e-mail programs.
In principle, the only developer activity worthy of mention took
place in 2003. The last publication of P-WinPT is version 1.0rc2 from
27 April 2003.
In May 2005 Fabian Rodriguez opened the position of project manager,
since he had not been active for some time. However, it appears that
no one indicated any interest in assuming this position.
5.2.2 User acceptance
Despite its short activity phase, the project appears to be very
popular. Download volumes are quite impressive and are probably above
those for GnuPP: P-WinPT 1.0rc2: more than 270,000, P-WinPT Handbook
02rc2: more than 42,000. The reason for the large numbers is probably
the fact that the project was able to speak to an international
There are approx. 1,000 individuals signed up on the announcements
mailing list. There is no English mailing list per se, the mailing
lists for the different languages (there is no German one) do not
show any noticeable activity.
Entries regarding problems, requests and queries continued to be made
far beyond the active phase. Including a number of them as late as
2006. They were not processed.
The activity of the project was closely tied to the activities by its
initiator. When Fabian Rodriguez was no longer active, no new
versions were published.
One large problem was probably the fact that there was no English
discussion list which would have allowed interest parties to
coordinate their efforts.
The fact that the links list did not make reference to either GnuPP
or any other similar approaches can also be considered a weakness. It
is only when one is aware of alternatives that comparisons can be
made. The continued number of new entries in the Bug Tracker may also
be a result of this being the only visible avenue for users to
address problems associated with P-WinPT.
The P-WinPT project finally attempted to integrate the software WinPT
into itself. No links are found on the WinPT home page, where new
versions were announced until August 2004 and downloads were also
provided. Without carrying out additional research a user would not
know that the software WinPT is an independent project which in the
meantime has been extensively improved. As a result, this attempt can
be seen as a tactical error.
The project Gnu Privacy Tools (GnuPT)
was initiated by one person from Germany, probably around January
According to statements by the initiator, new versions of Windows
installation packet GnuPT have been published approximately every 2
to 3 weeks since May 2004.
The web portal to GnuPT is organised as a pure forum platform.
According to the author the further development of GnuPT will soon
cease in favour of Gpg4win.
5.3.2 User acceptance
Based on the statistics of the forum software one can assume that
there are less than 50 active participants and less than 3,000
readers. In general, it appears that all questions are answered on
the forum, hence the support is considered as good.
The number of downloads cannot be determined.
The forum structure is unwieldy since the entire project organisation
is carried out through this forum. There is no separate bug tracking
system, no mailing lists and no history for installation packets
(only the most recent version may be downloaded). The project seems
to be mainly operated in Germany and is not an official GNU project.
Furthermore there is no source code for the installer, hence only the
project manager can create a new version. As a result the installer
itself is not considered Free Software.
Overall there is a danger that it would be difficult for someone else
to continue the project should the project manager lose interest or
is prevented from continuing his work (e.g. through an accident).
5.4 GnuPG-Pack Basics
The installation packet GnuPG Pack-Basics
has been maintained by a single individual in Germany since
Little is known as to its history, since there are no mailing lists,
forums or similar which would enable the formulation of some
The author is not averse to coordinating or working with Gpg4win, but
in the meantime GnuPG Pack Basics will continue to exist.
5.4.2 User acceptance
Not much is known as to how many users have this installation packet.
From time to time users appear on the mailing lists of GnuPP or
Similar to GnuPT there is a risk that it would be difficult for
someone to continue the project if the project manager loses interest
or is prevented from continuing his work (e.g. through an accident).
Furthermore, user guidance, documentation and discussion forums are
only in German. GnuPT is not an official GNU project.
In addition, there is no project-specific infrastructure in which
users and potential developers could exchange ideas.The source code
of the installation packet is also not made available. As a result
the installer itself is not considered Free Software. Hence the
project manager is the only person who can easily compile updates.
successes to date
At the time of writing, the
current version of Gpg4win was 1.0.2 (2006-05-30).
The following has been achieved on the technical page of the actual
Updates of software components GnuPG, WinPT and GPA. In particular,
the current versions of GPA (0.7) were again made suitable for use
in Windows. After version 0.5 (included in GnuPP 1.1), GPA was only
being tested on GNU/Linux.
Integration of new modules: GPGol (Outlook Plugin), GPGee (Explorer
Plugin) and Sylpheed Claws (complete e-mail program including
plug-in for GnuPG). Particularly Sylpheed Claws was again made
suitable for use with Windows. GPGol was also significantly expanded
Updates and extensions to handbooks "Novices" and
"Experts". Both handbooks are available as both PDF as
well as on-line versions.
New installer technology (NSIS) with extensive automation.
Furthermore several measures were instituted which support a
sustained and independent further development:
The mechanism for the assembly of installation packets is now
transparent, documented and completely Free Software. The packet
must be “cross”-built
on a GNU/Linux system. This has advantages regarding the automation
and integration of programs with GNU/Linux origins (GnuPG, GPA,
Sylpheed Claws), but also has the disadvantage that a pure Windows
developer cannot easily create an installation packet by himself.
A new home page summarises the most important information for
Gpg4win. It is also completely bilingual (English and German).
A technical infrastructure with the usual standard services is
available to the community of users and developers. It includes bug
tracker for error messages, mailing lists for discussions for each
users and developers, web forums for different discussion topics, as
well as a source code administration system for developers. All this
is implemented on the basis of a GForge platform which also allows
interested users and contributors both written or administrative
access to the individual components of the technical infrastructure.
All of these structures are already heavily used by users.
courses of action
7.1 Basic difficulties
The current participant structure for Gpg4win, GnuPP, GnuPT and GnuPG
Basics does not correspond with the form that is needed for a
successful Free Software project (see Figure 1, pg. 6).
Figure 2: Current make-up of participants for Gpg4win: While there is a
broad basis of users, there are no levels of power users,
contributors and developers. There is a team of core developers,
which in turn does not have an appointed development coordinator.
The current Gpg4win participant structure is missing the groups of
power users to developers, as illustrated by . In addition, there is
no project coordinator in charge when the commissioned project for
the development of Gpg4win has ended.
In comparison, GnuPP and WinPT are also missing its core developers,
since development has been suspended.
For GnuPT and GnuPG Basics the individual carrying out the
coordinator function is identical with the levels for core developer
and developer, hence a very thin layer.
One difficulty for the qualification process from user to power user
etc. certainly is the fact that it concerns the Microsoft Windows
platform. As a result, compared to GNU/Linux there are typically less
qualified users or fewer users who want to be qualified. The active
participation in a project is a process that users of Free Software
are very familiar with. GNU/Linux consists of Free Software. One
could also say that GNU/Linux was predisposed to include users in the
further development through motivation and qualification
Added to that is that software development for Microsoft Windows is
technically more demanding since most components are proprietary,
unlike Free Software where they can be easily analysed and corrected
where required. Within the framework of Gpg4win, GPGol (Outlook
plug-in) is a good example for this situation – because of
insufficient documentation and programming errors in Outlook a large
part of time for labour was expended into so-called reverse
engineering and the preparation of so-called workarounds, instead of
designing functionality. Another difference is the availability of
development tools - developers under Windows often have a proprietary
tool kit which is also an obstacle if another developer wants to
continue work at a certain spot. In the meantime, the resulting
problem has moved Microsoft to remove some of the development tools
from commercial distribution. However, despite their free
availability the tools remain proprietary and are thus not available
in the source code, among others.
Since Gpg4win is security software, which in part requires knowledge
of fairly sophisticated concepts, the circle of potential
contributors is therefore limited. Alone the writing of good
documentation material usually requires in-depth security knowledge.
Also, in order to ensure consistent trust in the software, a
corresponding quality management process is meaningful. This is not
usually a fun task for most volunteers.
Finally, one difference between GNU/Linux and Windows is that
GNU/Linux distributions (Debian, SUSE, Fedora, etc.) integrate useful
and good-quality products as fixed components. This is not the case
for Windows, where products must be separately installed. Hence,
while practically every GNU/Linux system comes pre-installed with
GnuPG, software such as Gpg4win must be separately installed on each
7.2 Tasks and/or required activities
Gpg4win is a meta project. In this way it is different from many
other projects which are each dedicated to a specific software
Gpg4win integrated different products from other projects. The main
result is an installation packet for Windows operating systems which
is made available as a download. Besides the automated routine for
the creation of installation packets, the handbooks "Gpg4win for
Novices" and "Gpg4win for Experts" are also considered
'real', proper parts of the project.
It is possible to identify five tasks which must be carried out in
the long-term on a continuing basis:
1. Updating of the installer
This requires certain technical knowledge. Training can be further
facilitated with a good tutorial, which should consist of examples
which illustrate what has been done to update one or other
components. It should also take into account some 'extreme cases',
e.g. modification of paths and environmental variables.
Another component of this task area is the processing of received
error reports which are relevant to Gpg4win Installer. This may also
include the addition of smaller new features.
2. Updating of handbooks
Through the update of the installer or individual components,
dialogues and processes may also change. They must be worked into the
3. Communication and public relations activities
Communication includes the maintenance of the website as well as
announcements for significant updates. Public relations activities
include advertising measures for attracting new users and additional
4. User support
User support includes responding on forums and mailing lists and, in
the case of error reports, making assessments of whether they are
relevant to Gpg4win or one of the components. In the latter case the
error report must be entered in the respective project.
5. Technical administration
The main task here is the servicing of the technical infrastructure.
Typical tasks include moderating e-mails that have been 'stuck' in
the mailing lists and more general administrative duties connected
with the development platform "Gforge" used by Gpg4win.
The task of coordinating and directing the entire project is done
jointly by the active parties in these five areas. Added to that
would be any extra efforts/costs required as a result of fundamental
changes to the target platform or the distributed software products.
7.3 Estimate of costs for required activities
The following estimates are the result of basic considerations and
experience related to the development of Gpg4win up to version 1.0.2.
1. Updating of the installer: approx. 12 hours per month.
This number is based on the following scenario - a single update
usually takes 4 hours plus 2 hour testing. In general, it is expected
that there is one update every two weeks.
2. Updating of handbooks: irregular, as required.
In principle, changes to the handbooks would be fairly rare and only
be done if significant changes to the components have been made or
new components are introduced.
One can assume that an additional 2 to 3 additional components will
be incorporated in the near future. Fundamental changes to existing
components are not conceivable at this time.
Smaller changes to the installer itself can be expected in the near
future and should be taken into account accordingly for the novice
3. Communications: approx. 8 hours per month, on average.
4. User support: approx. 8 hours per month, on average.
5. Technical administration: approx. 2 hours per month, on
The efforts required for the different tasks will increase in line
with a growing user community.
7.4 User community
Gpg4win users can be roughly divided into three groups:
Agencies/organisations, businesses and private individuals. This base
can provide a pool of potential participants or a source of
Private users as well as individual users from companies and agencies
will form the largest group, at least in the first years. To date,
this group is also the largest player in GnuPP and GnuPT.
For the systematic use of Gpg4win in companies and agencies only
those versions for which standardised support services can be
purchased are of interest. Where applicable, there may also be
stronger interest in the direction of an installer which supports
certain methods for software distribution.
7.5 Commercial stakeholders
Often it is the commercial interest in a Free Software that is the
key to sustained further development. However, short-term economic
individual interests should not become the main influencing factor,
as this type of commercialisation would be damaging. Above all, the
four freedoms, more precisely the licensing as Free Software, must be
preserved. This still leaves room for profit and occupation - in
fact, both of these are desirable. A level of professionalism has
advantages, especially for the required tedious tasks and consistent
Usually this can only be achieved with a balanced participant
structure, not the other way around.
The objective of commercial stakeholders is a more sustained linking
of main developers to the project, as developers may be able to earn
a part of their income by undertaking activities for the project.
They are not subject to other obligations which could potentially
interrupt or end participation fairly quickly. This point is
particularly important in the case of Gpg4win, since the described
difficulties (compare section 7.1) likely lead to a smaller number of
volunteers than is the case for other Free Software products.
It is recommended that a commercial stakeholder model is pursued for
Gpg4win. There are different forms of support services which
represent a meaningful business model. Anyone working with Gpg4win
who is in part dependent on the flawless functioning of the software,
has a strong interest in maintaining the continuity and quality of
the software, as well as in having available contact persons with
in-depth technical knowledge and quick response times. At the same
time, a self-sustaining business is only created in steps.
Gpg4win already possesses a considerable number of users and has
therefore achieved a certain level of visibility. This creates the
basis for contacting sponsors/stakeholders from within the user
community. Where required, these sponsors may also be requested to
provide band width, financing or attend exhibitions or meetings.
It is also important to establish the value of the software for the
users on a more general level, because it has a direct relationship
to the willingness to pay. Many Free Software projects already enable
small payments, called 'donations'. This presents a large long-term
A dialogue with sponsors and the number of donations provides
valuable clues as to what has been solved particularly well in
Gpg4win or where this is still room for improvement. The suggestions
are valuable because there is a difference between the comment "I
would like to see function X in Gpg4win expanded" and a donation
of 100 Euro with the comment "I found function Y very helpful,
it would be nice if it could be expanded". The first could be a
quick off-the-cuff comment, whereas the latter is generally well
What to do with the money? Smaller amounts, hence amounts under EUR
10,000 annually, should be used to bring in additional individuals.
This means qualifying and motivating existing users or power users
(public relations work and marketing, compare section 7.6). A direct,
commissioned payment for development services will likely only be
meaningful with larger amounts. In this case, measures for
safeguarding a sustained further development should have priority.
Furthermore the commissioning of further development of the basis
components are also considered significant, as Gpg4win continues to
be a meta project and to a certain extent represents the interface
between Windows users and the actual software projects, hence the
dissemination of information to users is not only fair on principle
alone. It is also meaningful for the success of Gpg4win, because this
meta project also benefits from the explicit goodwill of developers
of the software module which forms its basis.
Next steps may include the establishment of business models by the
respective companies, such as those for maintenance, support
services, training or continuing development.
The safeguarding of the basic continuity may be provided by just one
company which expresses sufficient interest, whether for utility or
marketing value. Of course continuity would also be at risk in the
case of withdrawal by this one supporter. Hence a further objective
should be to find more than one supporter, and to ensure that these
supporters are not dependent on the same source (e.g. a certain
7.6 What can a one-time monetary contribution
This section summarises ideas which promote the objective of a
sustained independent further development, if a one-time monetary
amount was available.
Improving the qualification process
Creation of an incentive program for the motivation and
qualification of users into power users, from power users to
A financial incentive system does not
seem feasible or meaningful in this context. It will likely work
better on the basis of individual recognition.
One idea is the distribution,
assignment or loan of items that at the same represent a sense or
recognition of belonging. In the area of Free Software projects
this typically includes things such as T-shirts, coffee mugs or
The following examples demonstrates
the concept of an incentive system based on the use of pins:
Bronze pin: recognition of extensive
support by the user in forums or valuable error reports (i.e. for
Silver pin: recognition of work for
web page maintenance, testing of error reports or work regarding
external communications (i.e. contributors).
Gold pin: recognition of the work in
actively fixing bugs, preparation of updated Gpg4win installers or
the integration of a new module (i.e. developers).
Platinum pin: recognition for the
core development on the actual components (i.e. core developers).
Blue pin: recognition for assuming
the role of project coordinator as of a certain number of months.
Green pin: recognition for financial
sponsorship as of a certain amount.
The awarding of pins would be
accompanied with a "Hall of Fame" which lists and thus
honours the recipients of the respective pins.
The goal of automation is to allow
someone to focus on the interesting items instead of having to
manage or understand tedious material.
Possible further automation for
Gpg4win can be found in the area of installer assembly, preparation
of innovations and announcements, plausibility testing, testing for
more recent versions for module integrated in Gpg4win or the
The first step prior to any
automation is the comprehensive documentation of the respective
Good documentation of the different
tasks, backgrounds and contexts will do more than facilitate the
qualification process. It can also support the motivation process,
since the documentation of tasks clarifies early on whether someone
feels up to the task. Many times this is also about showing that
tasks are significantly easier than one might think.
Meetings in person increase the
chances of forming a harmonised group and achieving its
qualification. Participation is open to power users and above. A
meeting may also be used for recognition purposes and sometimes for
the implementation of certain technical goals. A current example of
a successful, paid meeting with a technical objective is the Python
Other examples of motivating meetings are KDE Pim meetings which
have been held in Osnabrück every January for the last couple
Increasing attractiveness for users:
Integration of additional modules for increasing the
attractiveness for private users:
GPGoe (plug-in for Outlook Express).
Integration of additional modules for increasing the
attractiveness for frequent user installation:
GPGRelay (encryption in background,
therefore independent from e-mail program used)
Support of software distribution systems for increased
attractiveness for businesses and agencies:
The creation of so-called MSI packets
is in the foreground of this process.
Active search for sponsors and supporters
International marketing in government environment in order to
create interest for a regular inspection of Gpg4win.
Inserting Gpg4Win in conventional software sources for Windows in
order to increase numbers of users.
8 Conclusions and recommendations
The objective is the sustained, independent and self-reliant
continued existence of Gpg4win so that updated versions may be
published, questions are answered and the web page is kept up to
The most important part objective
is the establishment of a balanced participant structure, shown in
Figure 1, pg.6 It is recommended that users are motivated and
qualified, and that a process promoting this purpose be created.
The second most important part
objective is the attainment of commercial stakeholders. It is
recommended that preparations are made towards creating a sponsoring
concept and being able to accept small payments.
The technical tasks (Section 7.2)
represent the basis for the measures described above. For cost
reasons, in the short term this is only possible with the currently
active and hence familiar group.
The ideal scenario is the financing by one sponsor, which would
secure the implementation of all three items. The main objective here
is the simultaneous step-by-step withdrawal from financial
sponsorship as soon as the intended structures are able to support
themselves and are beginning to grow in a sustained manner.
8.1 Qualification and integration
In order to increase the motivation of users, developers and
sponsors, we recommend an incentive concept, such as special pins as
proof/recognition of helpful assistance (compare Section 7.6). This
concept requires a decision-making process for the awarding
procedures as well as an individual who will send out the pins.
Also helpful are meetings which allow power users and developers to
meet in person and directly coordinate further tasks.
The qualification process requires the existence of already qualified
individuals who support the process. Steps should be taken to ensure
that these already qualified individuals are included in the process
The duration of the qualification process up to the establishment of
a balanced participant structure may be between 6 to 24 months.
8.2 Commercial stakeholders
The recommendation is to work towards an commercial stakeholder
One recommended measure is a search for sponsors. This approach for
fund raising is at the same time an indicator or a form of vote as to
what extent there can/should be a next step towards more enhanced
Another recommendation for Gpg4win is to set up an opportunity to
make monetary donations using the home page, and to find an
organisational method for the acceptance and distribution of the
funds (see Section 7.5).
The next steps should be decided based on feedback for the two
Concrete recommendations for action
Do you like Gpg4win? Then support the project. It is easier than
one might think, and even a little amount can accomplish a surprising
amount. As with any Free Software you have the option of contributing
time or money.
A.1 As a volunteer
You can provide active support for Gpg4win, regardless of your
Obtain the necessary knowledge and
become at first a power user and then a contributor. Participate in
forums or mailing lists. Even small suggestions are welcomed by
users of Gpg4win or one of the components. Just pick a tasks, tell
the mailing list about it and you are on your way.
Tell us what you think. What are
the good points? Any weaknesses? Is there a problem, and if yes,
where can it be found? Is the new version better? Please do this
respectfully, since the recipients of the mails often times are also
Approach other volunteers and
financial sponsors for support. For example, you can approach other
users. If you know of a business or agency which is already using
Gpg4win, it might be in the form of a reminder about doing something
for securing the software. Some agencies have already supported
development. Let your voice be heard in the political process –
praise the results to date and demand a continuation of support.
Actively support the distribution
of Gpg4win. You can write to newspapers and magazines, requesting
that this topic be covered, or advise other software distributors
that Gpg4win is not part of their current offering. Talk or write
about Gpg4win. Encourage others to use the software.
A.2 As a financial contributor
Contribute a small amount using
the payment option on the website, accompanied with a short
commentary stating any improvements you would be willing to donate
for again, and any features you especially like about Gpg4win. Even
amounts under 10 Euro can provide a means of support and motivation.
For a medium-sized amount, contact
one of the project participants and pay against an invoice. You may
also be able to commission a specific undertaking, such as updates,
fixing of a problem or addition of a function. Please ensure that
each commissioned improvement benefits Gpg4win as a whole.
As a business or agency you can
commission the three measures outlined in Section 8 and thus ensure
the sustained continuation of the project. You would then obtain
Gpg4win for your organisation on a continuing basis. One of the
'collateral' benefits of this
activity is the
improvement of security
in data transmissions as a whole.