Hi! Today I accidentally saw on your site that the free license only supports four cameras.
I installed Bluecherry about a year ago and I didn’t seem to notice this information, or it wasn’t there at all.
I have added a lot of cameras and they work well. But I was very alarmed by what I saw today.
Can you say this message has always been there, or is it a new policy? Is there a chance that my recorder will only work with four cameras after a while? Or does it only affect newer versions?
I also installed Bluecherry 3.x a while ago for a test. The recorder worked for several months with ten cameras without any problems.
I wanted to update my Bluecherry to version 3 to use the h265 codec, but now I am afraid to do so.
Thanks for the question. If you have questions after reading this then feel free to reply.
First, I believe in being completely clear and open about Bluecherry. There is no point in hiding or minimizing anything. Customers who have been, or will be, purchasing a product from us need to know our future.
The tldr version - Going forward from 3.1.0 the community edition will support 4 cameras without any kind of licensing restriction. If you need more then four cameras, $50 will purchase a perpetual 4 camera license which will give you 8 total cameras (4 free + 4 purchased). If you don’t want to upgrade to v3, or don’t feel like paying for our software, then you can continue to use 2.8.
The non tldr version -
To better respond I need to explain a little of the story of Bluecherry’s software development.
In the beginning (10+ years ago), we produced a hardware compression card (H.264) for analog cameras. We also added support for IP cameras. At the time, IP cameras were still new and expensive so most customers went with analog cameras. We spent over $100,000 in R&D, Linux kernel development (see link 1 below) and production runs (200 at a time) of PCI and PCIe hardware compression cards.
This, essentially, created a “vendor lock in” for customers. You purchased the card from us and the software. The software worked with the card only, and the card, while it supported Video4Linux 2, was not a standard bt878 card that produce raw frames and required user space applications to make use of the hardware compressed stream (MPEG4 then H.264).
“vendor lock in” was good for us, customers purchased cards and the software, we made money and were profitable. Additionally we sold both analog and IP cameras on our sister website (store.bluecherry.net).
But. “vendor lock in” was bad for the community. The software was closed source as I was afraid some shady company would snag up the software, release it for cheaper, leaving us with a shrinking market share.
At this point the Linux kernel driver was open source (GPL), the cross-platform Qt client was open source (GPL) and I decided to open the server open source (GPL) as well, for better for worse (link 2). We were still selling “camera licenses” up to this point, meaning you had a 30 day trial and you could either purchase the perpetual software license or stop using the software.
The price for IP cameras quickly reduced and analog cameras were on the way out. We pushed hard for more of a NVR (IP camera) software then a DVR (analog camera) software, but still supported both for existing customers.
I decided to move the software from a camera licensing aspect to a software support. We toyed with accepting donations, which in 18 months generated just shy of $1000. Customers, for better or worse, realized they didn’t need to purchase a software license and instead could install the software for free and did not always purchase the software support option.
This affected our bottom line significantly. In essence, our profits decreased 80% very quickly and never recovered. We did some OEM work, which helped, but it was not sustainable.
We then made the push for v3, which is still in public beta. Between v3 and v3.0.9 the software will still be free to use. However, once we release v3.1.0 (we are on a sprint to catch up on any bugs for a stable release soon) we will be switching BACK to a paid camera license. You will still have the option for a 30 day trial.
The camera license will still be perpetual, meaning free updates in v3.x release tree (after 3.1.0). When version 4 is released you can stay on v3 or upgrade to v4 at a reduced cost. There will be no monthly subscription fees for the standard (non-enterprise version, which isn’t even released yet)
In short, we have some kick ass developers who like to get a regular paycheck.
What does that mean for you?
More features will be added, and alot faster then we have in the past six months. We’ve brought on two developers to speed server up development.
Thanks for the detailed answer. Unfortunately, my bosses insist on using free software. Before that, we used Russian software “Forpost”.
Bosses are used to the convenience of “Forpost” and have expressed a lot of criticism of Bluecherry. This mainly concerned client software. They did not like that there is no timeline, you cannot open the camera in full screen with a double click, the archive takes a long time to load (in the web version it works quickly), the image quality is worse (the image is pixelated). Also complained that there is no mobile version. Perhaps if we fix these shortcomings, the bosses will approve the purchase of Bluecherry (but this is not certain :^)
I still have a few questions.
Are there any plans to update your PC client software? As far as I could see it has not been updated for a very long time.
Will I be able to install Bluecherry 2.8.8-3.0.9 after version 3.1.0 is released?
When is the release of the mobile client planned? (my bosses got me with this question)
I really like Bluecherry. All other free software I tried was complete crap. It is a pity that it becomes paid, but I understand that you need to get paid for work. Good luck with development.