The zed is reporting today that the source code and rights to Ham Radio Deluxe have been sold to three radio amateurs, Mike Carper WA9PIE, Randy Gawtry, K0CBH and Rick Ruhl W4PC. No details are posted right now other than development and support will be continued on the product (emphasis mine).
HRD is arguably one of the best, if not the best amateur radio loggers ever written. It’s the first amateur radio program I would give straight As for design and usability.
While HRD has always been a free piece of software, it would follow that if someone has paid cash for the source code and rights, they intend on getting a return on that investment. Considering one of the purchasers runs an amateur radio and communications software company, this is quite plausible.
I find myself sounding a lot like the open source zealots I used to bemoan on Slashdot, but I’m increasingly concerned with closed source software and systems within amateur radio. I’ve seen freeware closed source software authors and followers who think they have a license to be arrogant to users or use the software to further an agenda or an ego. Some closed software stagnates over time when the author no longer has the time or interest in maintaining it. Networks run by closed source software tend to be silo solutions developed in a vacuum, ignoring standards and recreating the wheel. Open source can prevent all these scenarios and create a design and development “ecosystem.” Such an ecosystem is quite apparent in the Linux and Arduino communities and for a spell in the 2000s I think we had such an ecosystem in QRP. I don’t think we’ve ever had a truly great software ecosystem.
There is one positive if HRD goes commercial. With a revenue stream there will be an incentive to continue development, support users, and maintain it as the fine product that it is. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun and prematurely assuming it will go commercial, but I don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibilities. I made a contribution to HRD in the past, so I would probably buy the commercial product as it’s just that good. It’s just unfortunate that HRD couldn’t have been released as an open source project and been freed to evolve in a community based effort.