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.