Ronja Twibright Labs

Project Sustainability Philosophy

What model is suitable for the Ronja project

I have made the Ronja 115 Loopipe and then the Ronja 10M Metropolis solely for free and with no external financial support.

For some time I thought my development could be supported by a local community network, which obviously was a good place for such a design. But my idea of mutual cooperation didn't work. The people took what have been given to them and returned nothing back. They started commercial manufacture and selling of a construction with their own mechanics and my electronics. I protested against this. Shortly after that they cancelled the manufacture and designed their own, completely proprietary design, which didn't use anything from Ronja at all and which they started to commercially manufacture and sell instead of the previous one.

After this I thought the only remaining way of Ronja surviving and bringing something more than just a plain, vanilla Metropolis, is in commercializing. But:

Why Ronja can't be commercial

When I buy some device in a store, I usually find it defective. Devices don't comply to their specifications. Sometimes I have to do-it-yourself, sometimes I have to take the device back to the shop, because the design was weak and underdimensioned. I couldn't do anything with that. Writing a letter to the manufacturer has no effect. I tend to build more and more things myself, because I realize that it still pays off to develop something and build it and then reliably use it instead of bringing things back to shop and/or coping with bugs and problems during operation of the device.

Cooperation instead of competition

Ronja, having it's development based solely on free software tools, and publishing all guides freely under the GNU Free Documentation License, is based on cooperation. Compare to commercial products, which are based on competition.

"The competition between human beings destroys with cold and diabolic brutality... Under the pressure of this competitive fury we have not only forgotten what is useful to humanity as a whole, but even that which is good and advantageous to the individual. ... One asks, which is more damaging to modern humanity: the thirst for money or consuming haste... in either case, fear plays a very important role: the fear of being overtaken by one's competitors, the fear of becoming poor, the fear of making wrong decisions or the fear of not being up to snuff..."

-- Konrad Lorenz, Civilized Man's Eight Deadly Sins

Philosophical differences between commercial and non-commercial approach

Free/open RonjaCommercial models
ReliabilityThere are two kinds of things: things that unconditionally work and comply to their specification -- so called BugFree(TM). And those that don't -- so called crap. Devices has to be reliable just only to keep number of reclaimations down to prevent financiall loss of the manufacturer. Excessive reliability requires excessive manufacturing costs. Unreliability is good because people then buy more new devices in a false belief that the new version will be more reliable than the previous
DevelopmentAlready done development never vanishes, it only grows like a boulder of concrete when we pour on more and more. Different people design different things. Ideas and designs can be reused, modified or unmodified. There is no competition, there is cooperationThere is a competition instead of cooperation. Concurrent manufacturers are involved in exhausting patent wars. Designs are being kept secret. Wheelbarrow is being invented over and over again by different teams of developpers. When a manufacturer goes broke, the secret-kept design vanishes instead of being released to the public.
User feedbackUser can add to the design if the author believes the change is goodEven when the main engineer believes the change is good, it can be added only when market demands it.
PriceOnce released, the design is for free. You just pay for the materialThe price is dictated by the manufacturer. You pay the whole overhead of a firm, stock market wars, patent lawyers, expensive cars and mobile phones for the CEO, advertising campaigns, public relations in media
The lead developper realizes something is buggyHe posts it to the mailing listThe issue is being kept secret until some kind of external pressure forces the manufacturer to admit the problem and fix it
The user realizes there is a bug in the designPosts it to the mailing list, gets a quick reply, a patch can be quickly released and applied by the user himself. No need to travel with the device anywhere.Want to get the device fixed? Go to the shop and prove the device is faulty. Want to get it fixed even when they tell you it's not a bug, it's a feature? Hire and pay a good lawyer!
PatentsRonja can involve patented technology because patents restrict manufacture, not development. End product of the Ronja project is a design, not a physical piece of hardware. Patents do not cover manufacture for personal use :)The end-user pays full-blown patent wars incorporating ridiculous patents and lawyer wages.
On what the future user can base the decision whether the device is suitable for him or notDesign source files that exactly and truly describe the deviceMarketing campaign full of lies and deceit
ConsistencyThe design philosophy is constant. The direction of the project is defined by ideals of a single person, the author.The philosophy changes rapidly as CEO's, lead developpers and managers are being kicked out from the company and replaced by more aggressive individuals. The philosophy may easily be inconsistent over time.
ServiceabilityDevice can be easily disassembledTendency to make things molded in resin etc. to make the device less serviceable because we can then do the manufacture and ask more for it.
UnicityUnique design - the only known Open Source teledataoptics designCommercial Ronja would have tens of concurring devices - commercially made free space optics.

"For various kinds of companies, open-source really represents cost reduction. It also represents a wide market for developers themselves, to customize the applications for the needs of the clients - which is a nice alternative to the one-size-fits-all commercial approach. Comparing the number (and wages) of advertisers, PR specialists, lawyers, salesmen, market analysis and policy research groups working for and paid by various open source initiatives with their industrial counterparts reveals one of the sources of the savings." (

So I decided that Ronja won't be commercial.

Ronja Project Sustainability Model

It is not possible to reasonably work on Ronja as if it were a hobby only. Therefore people are welcome to send donations. When it's not feasible to work on a project as a hobby anymore it is a good tradition here in Twibright Labs that designs are going to be developped, assigned virtual price and released to the public under GPL as soon as corresponding amount of donations accumulates.

Design is something of atomic value, some part of the whole Ronja system that is useful as itself. It may be some module, for example laser transmitter, or an accessory, like a signal analyzer/sniffer, or a whole device, say 100Mbps Ronja.

Donors are sorted in order of decreasing total amount contributed. Each donor is named, allocation status of his donation is listed, and an optional weblink to representative URL, possibly with a logo, is displayed.

An expected information missing here?