I was firstly delighted, then dismayed by an email that appeared in my inbox this morning. It read:
We are completely rebuilding GNS3 and want your help!
In 2013, we are going to be building a brand new GNS3 software and website from the ground up.
We want your input on what you would like to see from GNS3.
We have a short survey (9 questions only) that we would like you to fill out.
And as a bonus for helping us out, you can apply to be a part of our Beta Testing Team to test out the new software and training before we release it.
The Survey can be found here: http://goo.gl/KutRu
The GNS3 Team
A New GNS3? Sounds good.
I had heard talk about a new version of GNS3 for a while, so that didn’t surprise me. What surprised me was when I went to the survey. I became suspicious when I read:
And then I and found this question:
A PREMIUM version?
As someone who has spent considerable time contributing to and promoting GNS3, I would hate to see GNS3 become anything other than an open source project. The idea of charging for a premium version of GNS3 abhors me. Charging for training or supplementary material like labs is quite a different thing.
I will concede that there are two sides to the argument. People like me who use GNS3 in training courses do get benefit from the time they put into the project. But much of my motivation comes from the enriching experience of sharing ideas and working with a diverse community of people from around the globe, and the idea that my efforts may help someone get a little more knowledge as they pursue their quest for certification or whatever.
The problem is that
a) the hard-working and dedicated code-writers don’t always have another avenue to compensate for the hours spent on the GNS3 project, and
b) hosting forums and blog sites is not free.
I can see there is a need to generate some revenue, but I don’t see that charging for GNS3 is going to be an answer – even if it is a “premium” version! Here are some of the issues that a “paid-for” version would raise.
- Who gets they money raised? How is it divided?
- Until now, Cisco has tacitly allowed GNS3 to assume users will magically find some router IOS image that has to be used with GNS3 to make it work. Everyone knows that to the letter of the Cisco IOS agreement, the IOS can’t legally be used with GNS3. Will Cisco keep this tacit stance if there is money being made from GNS3?
- Who is liable if the whole project goes broke?
I don’t have a silver bullet answer for the GNS3 project, but I think that a better way to go might be to look for a sponsor – perhaps one of the big training companies. I’d be looking at the Riverbed/Wireshark model for guidance.