Lino reaches a new level

Sunday, June 28, 2020

We are entering a new chapter in the history of the Lino framework. We have shown to the world that Lino can be used for industry-level software development. The technical aspects are fully satisfying, our bottleneck is the commercial side. Many customers and friends have encouraged and supported me during the past years to become a better salesman. I am grateful for these years, which helped me to grow at many levels. One of the important things I learned is the following.

It is time for me to step back as “the guy who is going to sell Lino”. I always wanted Lino to become big, but I never wanted to become big myself. I never wanted to be yet another IT service provider; the world has enough of those. Lino makes no sense if it is used by only one service provider. It makes sense only when many providers can use it as a tool to provide their services. Lino is free software, it is not “my” product, I want to share it, it belongs to us all. We all are responsible for using and maintaining it.

And here is how this step will look like: Tonis and Hamza will no longer work full-time for Rumma & Ko with a monthly salary, I will rather pay them per hour or per task when there is some work to do. They will remain available for cases that require more work than I can do. Their confidentiality statements with Rumma & Ko will remain active and we will continue to fully trust them. Rumma & Ko will continue as before, all customer contracts will continue, and we will accept new customers. This model can work sustainably as long as I am able to work as a software developer.

The switch will happen as soon as they found a new employer. Given their skills this won’t be too difficult. At the moment we think that Thorgate (Tallinn) want Tonis and AbAKUS (Eupen) want Hamza.

In other words, I send Tonis and Hamza into the world so that other software development providers can use them. One of my hopes behind this move –though not a condition– is that their new employers will start Lino projects within their company or for their customers.

The years with Hamza and Tonis were beautiful and enriching for me. And they helped me to learn about my vocation: I love listening to humans and telling their computers what to do in order to help them, I love sharing my experience and ideas about how to make business with customized database applications, but I am less eager about being a boss who tells others what they should do.

Of course Lino is not perfect. New features will continue to grow. But I prefer a slow, sustainable growing curve. Lino never wanted to be a quick startup.

And then there is reason to run more quickly than history. The breakthrough of free software is not yet achieved. Many managers still prefer a proprietary over a sovereign system because it is more comfortable. That’s why the most important advantage of Lino –avoiding vendor lock-in– is difficult to sell. But although many managers today still choose comfort over sovereignty, it is visible already now that times are changing. I am more convinced than ever that open solutions will become the norm as the harmful effects of vendor lock-in become more visible. Lino will be ready when this time arrives. I personally would never accept to work on proprietary software, I’d rather grow potatoes and chicken.