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June 11th, 2009:
I apologize for being rather quiet for so long, but I'm afraid it could
not be helped. I am writing this post to answer some of the questions
I have seen from several of you here, and hopefully clear up a few
other points as well. OK, here goes:
I am still working for Amiga Inc. and under a current NDA with them
so my answers to any Amiga Inc. related issues are going to be very
limited, if any. Sorry, but that's the way it is. I officially started on
November 1st, 2007 as a full time employee, and I'm operating under
an initial two year employment contract.
Contrary to some very wild speculation I've seen on the net,
I am NOT locked up in Bill McEwen's basement somewhere being
held hostage from making any further AmigaOS4(tm) software.
Bill is a good guy who lives in a near constant state of extreme
pressure, so please give him a break OK.
Ownership of AVD and Amiga, Inc.: The prior existence of AVD, and my
complete ownership thereof, including any of related sources, was set
out in my employment contract with Amiga Inc. All ownership of AVD
remains mind, and is in no way owned or controlled by Amiga Inc.
Sponsorship, AVD and FreeAVD: I know it's been quite a while, but
as previously posted, the target bounty amount for releasing a
free version of the AVD studio, (which is licensed to produce Freeware
software), was achieved guaranteeing the release of FreeAVD to the public.
(If you are thinking to yourself, "What good is that if it never gets finished?",
then please read on...)
When I took the job with Amiga Inc. I shut down any further acceptance
of subscription based sponsorship, pre-sales, or direct donations toward
the development of AVD. I did this because I felt that accepting donations
for a project I could not specify a release date for was wrong. I was writing
this software for the benefit of the Amiga community as a whole because
I loved the platform, and not because I was trying to make money at the
expense of it's community.
The original sponsorship program's success was based on two key factors;
As generous as the community donations were, there simply was not enough
people available donating an average of $10 a month to make up the required
overhead of $3000-$4000 a month I needed to survive programming AOS4
software full time. The two year window (now long past) represented the
total amount of my personal available funding. I had hoped that along
with the sponsorship program, it would provide enough time to see new
A1 machines released and the active user base increased to self-sustaining
- That the main bulk of required funding still came from me, and
That over a two year window the number of owners of AmigaOS4(tm) based
machines, and hence potential customers, would grow to 10,000 or more.
What actually happened was less than ideal. The existing A1 hardware was
no longer being produced, no new hardware appeared for far too long a time,
and legal battles ensued over the true ownership of a rapidly diminishing IP.
In short, a business model nightmare.
Taking the job at Amiga, Inc.: Toward the end of June 2007, my personal
financial status had hit critical levels, and even though sponsorship funding
had bought me a two month buffer, it was far short of being sufficient to continue
development. I had by that time already been forced to split my attention to
obtaining additional funding from short term contract work and the like, and
the progress on the AVD project suffered as a result.
Around the end of September 2007, after having received an email from Bill McEwen
who had heard of AVD and was impressed by what he'd seen, I starting talking to
Amiga Inc. about the possibility of sponsorship from them for the AVD project.
Those talks, and my expressed desire to have the opportunity to work on the
foundation of the future AmigaOS and build it hand and hand with the visual
development environment I knew it must have to succeed, lead to their offer
to bring me on as a full time employee.
AVD, FreeAVD, and Open Source: I have stated publicly in the past that if there
came a point where I could not finished the direct development of AVD for any
reason, that I would release the existing sources to the Open Source community
to be completed by other developers who shared my views on visual development
tools for AmigaOS. This still holds true.
** The following is strictly my personal opinion, and does not reflect the opinion of Amiga Inc. **
The big problem; Hyperion and Amiga Inc. continue to debate the ownership of OS4,
and while they do so, Hyperion keeps a hold of the OS4.x sources they wrote, and
no new contracts for say, "bring OS4 to x86" can be drawn up with them or anyone
else for that matter. Hyperion can not legally move the OS to non-PowerPC platforms
unless they establish full ownership. Meanwhile, Amiga Inc. either has to start
over from AmigaOS3.x sources still heavily connected to the Amiga chipset and the
MC680x0 CPUs, OR give up on using AmigaOS sources as a base OS and start over from
scratch to build AmigaOS 5 and beyond. Which do you think is more likely?
From what I can see this legal battle continues to exist because Hyperion wishes
it, and not because Amiga Inc. has not been willing to resolve the issue. I respect
the developers at Hyperion and all those that continue to support OS4 with
their own contributions. However, Hyperion as a company is threatening to compete
with the previous owners of Amiga for driving nails into the coffin that once
was the Amiga computer.
While the ownership of OS4 remains in doubt, how many big hardware manufacturers
do you think are going to approach either Hyperion or Amiga Inc. saying, let's build
two million units of 'X' that runs OS4? I put my support behind AmigaOS4(tm), over
MorphOS, AROS, and all the others out there, because it was the next official
Amiga Operating System, written from the original sources and keeping to the original
spirit of the Amiga, and it's brilliant. But with this legal battle eating away at
everything around it, what is AmigaOS4(tm) now? The bright flash of a soon to be permanently
dark light bulb?
Related issues; Since (as I stated above) AVD is owned by me and not Amiga Inc.,
as a full time regular employee of Amiga Inc. I write what they want written, just
like working for anyone else. Also, for me to write software for a potentially competing
OS (even personally), would be a breach of my contract. So as long as Hyperion and
Amiga Inc. are in conflict, and I remain working for Amiga Inc., development of
AVD for AmigaOS4(tm) remains frozen. I can say with all honesty that the situation
sickens me to the very core.
As if to add injury to insult, both of my AmigaONE machines are failing. I suspect
that I can repair the A1-XE, but I'm not really sure what's wrong with the Micro A1.
Another reason why I was hoping for new hardware that would run AmigaOS4(tm).
The Open Source question; Needless to say, I have a vested interest in wanting to finish
my vision of AVD myself, but it is now reaching the point where I need to make some hard
decisions in order to keep the AVD project alive. I can see three choices at this point
and I welcome your opinion on what you think would be the best in a large part for the
Amiga community, and in a smaller part for myself. Here is what I'm considering:
Keep the sources, and try to continue development of AVD for AmigaOS4(tm).
Sell the sources to another company to finish. (I would only consider doing this if
the company that bought them was actually going to release a completed version of
AVD for AmigaOS4(tm), and remained true to the Free release of FreeAVD.)
Release the sources under an Open Source license and allow other developers to
continue my work from here, hopefully with the financial support of the community
(as a free build for the public would always be required).
Now I have rambled on long enough. I leave it to you, which of the above three choices do
you consider the best choice? Do you have any other ideas that would guarantee the release
of AVD to the Amiga community?
Thanks for talking the time to read all this.