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How can Open Campground really be free?

What's the catch? We all know There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch and there usually isn't.

  • Open Campground Download is entirely free to download and use. There is nothing charged for it, you are under no obligation to pay anyone to use it for any purpose and you can give it to anyone else. See the license for limitations on claiming you wrote it etc.
  • Open Campground CD is somewhat different. In this case I charge a small amount ($25) for the CD and the installer program. Open Campground is still licensed under the same license in this case but the installer program is not covered by that license and may not be copied and further distributed. You can copy and transfer Open Campground itself just not the installer.
  • The third form in which Open Campground is available is as a service (Open Campground in the Cloud). A fee is charged for this service and there is no means for you to modify the system. The software is the same as the other versions of Open Campground so you are welcome to download and examine the system as you wish.
Users of the different versions may notice some difference in my response to requests for help. I make every attempt to accommodate the requests of the customers of Open Campground in the Cloud. I do try to help users of Open Campground CD and Open Campground Download in their use of the systems. I have spent hours on the phone talking users of Open Campground Download through their problems. On the other hand, when you are downloading a program for free I am under no obligation to spend my time helping you. I will help folks when I have time and am able. Frequently email is the most convenient way to do this.

In all cases I want your feedback. I want to know what features are useful, what are useless and what features are missing that would make the system more useful. Go to the support page for information on how to submit feature requests and bug reports.

You may ask how do you expect to make any money off this. The answer is that I don't really expect to make much money from it. I would like to make enough to cover my costs including this web site (I am not quite there yet) and I would not mind making a bit beyond that but getting rich was not really the motivation behind Open Campground. I am a retired programmer and I find the challenge of creating a useful software system very rewarding. I spent over 5 years traveling the US and Canada in my motor home after I retired. I was amazed by the schemes and systems that small campgrounds had to use to keep track of occupancy and reservations. I thought I could create a system that would make sense for that group of campgrounds. I saw it as a way to give back for the many things I have enjoyed in this country.

Your obligations as a user are all described in the license. This is the same license that a large amount of software (including the Linux system) is made available under. In general the GPL (the license) says that one has to make the source of the system available to anyone you provide the system to. In this case that is not a problem because programs in the Ruby language are normally distributed in the source form (this is contrasted with a program written it C which is usually distributed in object form from which the original program text cannot usually be inferred). Here is a section of the license:

You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty; and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License along with the Program.
The obligation to distribute in source form confers the other form of freedom associated with software under this license. That is the freedom to correct, improve, modify and in any other way change the software. You are able to change the system to any extent you are capable of in the same way that I correct, update and enhance the system. If you do not like the colors used or the fonts used or what the names of columns on a display are or how the system works in any way you have the freedom to change it.


†From The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (and other books), by Robert Heinlein.
Published by GP Putnam in 1966