Donations with Free Software

When F-Droid started back in 2010, there were no free software options for donations. So we used the standard proprietary services, and received enough donations to keep things running. Thank you for your continued support over the years! In recent years, two solid free software funding platforms have been established: Liberapay and OpenCollective. The F-Droid community has worked hard to push free software in everything we do. When GitLab started, we switched to as our development platform. We have always used free software for translations (now Weblate, and MediaWiki Translate beforehand). We work with Debian and Android Rebuilds to make free software Android SDK components available. We work with Reproducible Builds and Maven to provide tools so that anyone can verify that apps are built only from publicly available source code.

We have just completed the integration of the preferred donation platforms across the whole F-Droid ecosystem. OpenCollective: is now fully supported. We introduced the Liberapay: metadata field to support the native usernames, and are migrating away from the old LiberapayID: account numbers.

Free Software Funding Boom

There is also a flurry of activity around donation-based funding of free software. That has been nicely encapsulated in GitHub Sponsor’s definition of the FUNDING.yml file to register donation methods as part of a Git repo. This fits in nicely with F-Droid concept of deferring to the developer’s Git repo as the source of key metadata about the app (descriptions, translations, screenshots, email address, etc). Once F-Droid has established the source repo URL as the canonical source location, it is already trusted, so it provides a trusted channel from the app developer to the users of that app, via F-Droid.

What does this change for app developers?

One goal of F-Droid is to drive donations to app developers, because high quality free software apps are the reason for F-Droid existence. We want to do this while respecting user freedom. So while this will affect how each app’s donation options are displayed, it will not remove any of the existing services or links. Developers are users of F-Droid as well, so giving full flexibility is important to us. All of them will still be displayed. With the new FUNDING.yml support, it will hopefully be easier for app developers to manage the donation methods they are using. Right now, the F-Droid ecosystem only supports a single generic URL as a donate option Donate:. FUNDING.yml lets developers specify a list. Welcome contributions to implement showing all available donation options. Our current workaround is to have a web page that lists all donation options.

De-emphasizing Proprietary Services

Since we have two good free software options for receiving funding, we are taking this opportunity to promote them, and reduce the visibility of the proprietary options. It is too soon to rule out proprietary funding services altogether. This is a stepping stone along that path, for that is our destination.