Make proprietary / paid apps possible on custom repositories?


I’d like to know if it would be possible, at some point, to allow developers to distribute their proprietary (or even paid) apps using a custom repository on F-droid.

It’s already possible to distribute proprietary apps, and one tool available that could do that is Repomaker, but there is no mechanism in place for payments aside from optional donations; I suspect that would be highly complicated.

My reason to ask is that Epic Games is setting up a games store:

And I quote: “Epic’s offering only asks for a 12% revenue cut from developers, versus Google Play’s 30%. This could completely disrupt the Android games playing field. Why would a developer release a game on Google Play if it can get a cheaper deal from Epic?”

If developers could easily set up their own repositories, and host / sell their games with no fee at all, I think that would be big for F-droid.

What would be the main problems implementing it?

One fundamental problem with implementing payments is that F-Droid is designed from the grounds up to be anonymous. It doesn’t actively try to be anonymous by, for example, connecting through Tor by default, but it does eschew having accounts, analytics or even any sort of unique identifiers.

Would it be possible to add it? Certainly, open source code can be modified in every conceivable way. Would it be an ideal starting point? No, because of what I said. Would it be easy? No, because especially if payments are involved (which means the possibility of fraud, in either direction, has to be considered), adding secure user accounts together with a payment system is a major undertaking.

Not to mention the payment system wouldn’t be a standalone thing, but would have to be integrated with one of (but most likely several) various actual payment systems: in other words you’d need code to talk to PayPal and code to talk to Bitcoin and code to talk to Steam… and/or whatever payment system you want to support in the real world.


" it does eschew having accounts, analytics or even any sort of unique identifiers"

I’m new to F-droid so this is probably a very dumb question, but are accounts completely out of the question?

Looking at federated services, a user could register on a repository of their choice and then use that identity with other repositories (e.g. so that they can keep track of which users have paid por a given app). All the current features would still be available anonymously, but signing in would allow paid apps.

Sometimes I don’t know where to ask certain questions. Here on the forum? On Twitter, which I avoid visiting? Other forums that I don’t know about. I’ll chance this question here… Is F-Droid considering paid apps? At first just to F-Droid repos? Doing so may cause growth but, IMHO, F-Droid is considering a bad turn.

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In my understanding, it should not be done. This is the only place having FOSS stuffs. I would in personal at least want to let it stay like this. There are other repos, maybe, you can try and reach APK Mirror, or APK DL.

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What makes you think F-Droid is considering paid apps?

It was a question, and I answered it non-authoritatively (since I don’t have any authority within F-Droid) with, basically, “it would be very difficult to do technically”.

There wasn’t an authoritative answer, but if I were to venture a guess, the authoritative answer would likely be “no”.

It seems to be a trend with publishers, anyhow. Maybe these are overlooked somehow, or they push in via some script which hides. Although I am sure that this would not be the case with F-Droid, and they would surely block anything malicious.

As opposed to other stores F-Droid even highlights ways to pay-back the dev, donations and that. Not sure what you want more.

Read this too: Paid features in opensource apps

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I know. I was just pointing out. Been with FDroid for a long time and will always be. :wink:

You can make paid apps by asking compensation, and there is even monetization built in via links. Try that first, forcing the issue with distribution is quaint. With the publicity you get from being in the main repo, that is one advantage of libre software right there.

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