Introducing the Awesome F/OSS Newsletter

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tl;dr - I started a newsletter called Awesome F/OSS – I’m featuring one awesome Free and Open Source project every day for the next… forever(?).

I’ve got an huge list of Free and Open Source (F/OSS) projects that I think are awesome. I get to recommend them to friends and help people pick solutions a few times a month, but lately it’s felt like only being able to recommend solutions to such a small audience is a waste.

So I started yet another newsletter just for sharing Awesome F/OSS projects I come across. There’s a lot of overlap with the self-hosted crowd here, but the basic idea is that if there’s a great project people should know about, I want to feature it on the newsletter.

Of course, the first step was to yak shave

Along the way I started yak shaving of course – you know how Ghost doesn’t support any mail service providers except Mailgun? Well I didn’t like that.

Up until now I’d built newsletters like Unvalidated Ideas from the ground up (minus the help of Listmonk of course) because I didn’t want to be forced to make a Mailgun account (though that probably would have been the reasonable choice).

I decided to actually set off and build a thing that replicates the Mailgun API, and forwards the call through to a traditional SMTP server. If that’s interesting to you, sign up for access, but the solution will probably be open sourced (MIT) later anyway.

The idea of API aggregation and proxying is one that’s been coming up in ideas a lot recently (as readers of Unvalidated Ideas will know), so I took this chance to see if I could get a quick functional PoC up that someone might want to use.

Once I had that working, I got Ghost set up, hooked up Stripe and started writing. It’s nice to be able to actually use Ghost for once (especially since I recommend it so much over alternatives like Wordpress!).

Will I ever run out of things to feature?

Probably not – but I don’t think people will mind repeats either. There are definitely projects out there that deserve to be featured multiple times (like Postgres!), but in general I don’t think anyone will be zeroing in on a repeat after a year of entries.

Projects Awesome F/OSS will feature

So my list is still private, but I’ve also opened up a community contriubtion list here (with the ever-excellent Baserow).

Check out the list of projects to be highlighted.

While I’m not sure when I’ll highlight the projects in this list, they should all get highlighted eventually. It might be better to actually just put out my massive list all at once… This is something I’ll consider after I get some automation to extract my bookmarks and get descriptions and stuff up.

The goals behind Awesome F/OSS

There are two goals of Awesome F/OSS:

  • Highlight awesome open source that deserves more eyeballs
  • Donate subscription revenue to projects that need it.

Right now the newsletter is delivering on both of those goals (the first donation has come in, and projects are being highlighted every day) so it’s great to see it coming together.

The newsletter donates 60% of all subscription revenue to projects specified by the subscribers, which is something I’m pretty proud of. If/when sponsorship revenue comes in, we can keep this going and I think really generate some change.

One thing I realized as I was setting up the tiers was that I could/should donate more at the higher tiers – so 60% is actually the starting point of donations – the higher the subscription tier, the more money is donated.

I’ve already had some inquiries about adding content like interviews or a podcast, and I don’t know if I want to do that, but it’s certainly an interesting idea. Let’s see how much people like the written content first.