> there was no procedure for upgrades across major versions apart from "hire us"
Ah yes, this is true. To do a 6.0 to 6.1 (which was a significant upgrade) you do need a support contract if you want them to do it. They do not publish the code to the migration software. IIRC it was something like this: you upload your database (including a sanatized version so you don't leak data to them), then their script does it's majick, which you then feed to Postgres. Updating the server & client is a no brainer of just installing the new python files. The db is the hard part. I have seen some free/open scripts in the forums, but they are reverse engineered.
> the website was quite bluntly announcing that bug reports were very likely to be ignored unless they included the identification of a customer support contract
I haven't seen this.
If you have a support contract entered into OpenERP, if it crashes it gives you an interface with the crash details and your contract number with an easy submit button. If you don't have a contract, you do it the old way by simply entering a bug into the bug system. I've seen plenty of this.
> patches would be similarly laughed at
I don't think it is like this. They do most work through launchpad, and I don't see people asking "what's your support contract?" anywhere. That side of it seems to be a normal free/open project. Of course patches get laughed at every so often in other open projects too. ;)
Support contracts are available from a dozen or more companies, not just OpenERP themselves, fwiw.
> I have to disagree on the "true free software".
Your point about database migration is well taken. Apart from that, it is quite open in my experience.