MyRoundcube - Plugins as a Hostage

Roundcube is a webmail interface that has gone through a lot lately. It's interface is very clean and they just added a new interface skin which is actually really really nice. There are many 3rd party plugins that can enhance (or break) Roundcube. Just to be clear, MyRoundcube is not Roundcube, it's a separate project.

MyRoundcube is a 3rd party project that re-groups, modifies and writes plugins for Roundcube. To get the actual plugins you need to install the master plugin called "Plugin Manager". The goal is to help Roundcube admins maintain their plugin set, ensuring the plugins are compatible with the version of Roundcube installed.

All is fine, except when I encountered a few little issues, one being that you need to be logged in to Roundcube in order to download the plugin bundle (zip file with all the actual plugins), and submit your email to them.. it's a bit strange to require it to work this way.. .

The other issue I had was purely technical, I found the procedure incredibly complicated, you have to install the plugin manager, then configure it, then download the bundle, then install the unzipped bundle somewhere, edit more files, re-edit them, etc etc. The whole process felt a bit like that time I upgraded PrestaShop for someone; As if it was intentionally stupidified with the hope that people would contract their support.

I disabled the plugin manager now that I had the plugins bundle and installed and configured each plugin I needed, individually and manually. It was easy and straightforward, as it usually is when installing a webmail plugin.

This is where this starts.

So now, I search how to get the plugin bundle without having to setup an instance of Roundcube whose only goal is to get the plugins bundle. I find this "Updates through Subversion repository?" thread on MyRoundcube's forum. The initial question was somewhat similar, so I jump in and ask again about this "plugins.zip" file. And I get a quick and clear reply: The only way to get our plugins is Plugin Manager. an explanation of "why": Due to the lack of donations I've decided to distribute plugins in that way. And then the direction for where this is going: As people don't honor our work voluntarily, Plugin Manager will act as a billing system soon. I'm a bit stunned by the last part... Well all of it actually. If it means more work to prepare a separate "plugins.zip" then I totally get that part. But because donations haven't worked out as planned, Roland Liebl (aka rosali) informs me that the intention is to start charging people for using their plugin manager. (More on the "honor" below).

I insist a bit, because I found the SVN source somehow, though it's outdated apparently, and ask if that will remain there (and I could use it but risk pulling unstable code) and also ask if they intend to change the licenses on the plugins.. "MyRoundcube Support" replies: Yes, the repository will be closed. New license will be GPL with the following exceptions:

You are allowed to use MyRoundcube Plugins code on unlimited servers you own, leased or rented. You are not allowed to re-distribute MyRoundcube code.

Obviously they would need to re-think about the GPL.. I mean... .. . On one hand you can't have a GPL license and not permit users to re-distribute the code. On the other, some or many of the plugins are either forks of other people's work or heavily depend on other people's code, so changing the permissions can be delicate.

But even without that mess, most people will find other ways, either by sticking to the latest Free version they can find or doing without the MyRoundcube, after all there are many other plugins for Roundcube available, including those from Kolab which are the basis for the most popular plugins used by MyRoundcube.

And also, the rant about the donations, seriously: WTF. The domain name myroundcube.com was registered on June 24 2012, donations don't suddenly pour in as soon as you setup a Paypal link.

And back to this: people don't honor our work voluntarily is quite insane. All over the forum are comments from people praising their work, many also give back helpful tips and/or precise bug reports. I have to say, the result (without the "plugin manager" plugin) is great, a few key plugins installed and they work fine. .. though I did have to hack some of their code to make the reminders work, I pasted it back to their forum with a trick for those using fcgi, in my book that's honouring their work, voluntarily too...

I wasn't even finished writing this when someone posted an error message they got on the MyRoundcube forum: I have just installed plugin manager but when i wouldlike to download the plugins I get this error.txt instead.
I could not find any info about credits.
[...]

Custom ID: ********************** The download price of MyRC$ 36 exeeds your credits of MyRC$ 0.

Well, some will bite, I'm sure. Perhaps we might see forks or something (or forks of the original code MyRoundcube forked from in some cases). Of course selling the code in this way is legal and agrees with the GPL, however so does redistributing the plugin bundle.

What concerns me is the future of Roundcube itself. Hopefully the other plugins won't follow this model.

Some links:

Update - MyRoundcube SVN link

Daniel Reurich submitted links to MyRoundcube SVN repository in a comment here, thanks.

MyRoundcube's code page makes it clear once more that it's "better" to use their plugin manager which should have more up to date versions but also some proprietary plugins...

comments:
avatar

Andrew Roffey

I doubt the MyRoundcube developers have read the GPL. Here's a quote from the GPLv3:



All other non-permissive additional terms are considered "further restrictions" within the meaning of section 10. If the Program as you received it, or any part of it, contains a notice stating that it is governed by this License along with a term that is a further restriction, you may remove that term.


And so the terms of the GPL basically override their added restrictions.



Treating their users like that is definitely a good way to scare them off.

avatar

manu - http://manurevah.com

I know.. :/

And their lack of reply to this indicates they are being weird..

I have started hacking on the kolab version of the calendar plugin (it needs fiddling too), besides it being clearly Free Software, it's also much nicer actually..
avatar

Borke

Manu, you say/write what I thought. Thank you. I'm definitely scared off and stopped using myroundcube plugins.
avatar

Firebird

Just wanted to update myRC plugins and test out RC9, well the surprise was quite unpleasant... well I'we tried to switch to the kolab calendar plugin but can't get it to work properly, do you have a tip on this one.
avatar

manu - http://manurevah.com

Firebird, I have managed to make the Kolab plugin work with Roundcube 0.8.x. On #kolab (on freenode) I was told that their plugin was supposed to work on 0.9, so basically I was doing the opposite of what you are trying to do.
: ]

I can't really tell what could be wrong but a few tips, if they help 'yay':

- Check for the DB, the calendar plugins each have their own scheme, so perhaps this is an issue.

- Check Roundcube's logs for errors, I recall some errors complaining about missing a file or something, those will help

- It can also be worth getting on IRC and asking the Kolab folk, though they may be concentrated on the full Kolab integration they may have helpful tips.


On my personal server I am still using MyRC calendar and I really need to take the time to switch, there's the whole licensing/hostage situation but also the Kolab edition is way more ergonomic and pleasant.
avatar

Firebird

It works out of the box with RC 0.9, just didn't copy the required libraries to the plugin folder [libcalendaring]. The Kolab plugins work quite well... just to let you know
avatar

manu - http://manurevah.com

Good to hear. I was trying to switch my RC calendar plugin, but I think the 0.8 branch of the Kolab plugin isn't worth the pain (alarms aren't working), I will upgrade RC to 0.9 and do as you did.

Thanks for letting me know it works.
: ]
avatar

manu - http://manurevah.com

BTW: I switched to Roundcube 0.9 and got the latest Kolab-calendar plugin, and I can confirm it works great.
avatar

Daniel Reurich

The gpl licensed plugins is still avialable from svn checkout http://myroundcube.googlecode.com/svn/ myroundcube-read-only

see https://code.google.com/p/myroundcube/source/checkout
avatar

Bount

Thank you for this article.
Even though I fully agree on your opinion about MyRC, I bought some credits and downloaded calendar_plus.

As the plugin manager is a mess, I would like to install the calendar in a fresh RC installation without the manager now.

How did you do that?
I copied all the plugin folders required, imported the MySQL-files in the database (calendar and db_version) and added all the plugins to my config-file:
$config['plugins'] = array('carddav','calendar', 'calendar_plus','db_version','http_auth','http_request','jscolor','qtip','timepicker', 'jqueryui');

RC just doesn't show any calendar-settings.
Do you have any ideas?

Thank you.
Bount


avatar

manu - http://manurevah.com

Bonjour Bount,

I am using the Kolab plugin for the calendar, so I'm not sure how to get the MyRC one to work. You could ask on their forum, they seem reactive, however they will probably insist on you using the manager.
avatar

Tom

Thanks for this article. It gave me exactly the information what I was looking for. It's good to know the background about projects you intend to build things on.

Warm regards,

Tom
avatar

alana

Hi,

you might want to know that the myroundcube plugin website developer (so not the roundcube people !!) has disappeared and decided to stop suddenly , leaving allot of people stranded. In a way what was expected happened.
avatar

PICCORO LEnz MCKAY - http://qgqlochekone.blogspot.com

i recently inlast year have a the same issue and took direclty to the developer rosaly and tell that the proyect take gpl code and redistribute, added some very few and little features and redistribute..

currelty implement a gpl code lib plguin that separated.. but now with google code closed they does not public their changes..

the god its take it their work and replubised gpl.. i'll do currently have issue with my countri and money but i said:
this its no reason to restrict the freedowm of gpl!
Leave a comment
You may use the following HTML tags: <p> <a> <strong> <b> <em> <i> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <pre>

Your comments WILL NOT be submitted to any third party (not even for anti spam verification).