Making Money in Open Source

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#1 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:51 AM

If open source is free, how do people make money from it?
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#2 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:55 AM

Being open source doesn't necessarily equate to free.
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#3 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 10:59 AM

I thought it was? :( Now I'm confused.
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#4 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:10 AM

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Probably because of the prominence of F/OSS and the fact that free and open source are usually "lumped" together.

This may be of interest
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#5 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:14 AM

There are certainly ways to make money off of Open Source software. Rich Hickey of Clojure fame works on Clojure full time. His income is pretty much entirely generated from donations from the Clojure community and companies that use Clojure.

Ask Mozilla. Surely they'll give you the secret. :P
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#6 Tom9729  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 11:30 AM

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Just some ideas...

  • Give away the software, sell support (eg. Redhat).
  • Dual-license (eg. MySQL, Ext-JS).
  • Open source what you can't sell (eg. Microsoft, Apple, Adobe...), make money by packaging it with your proprietary product.
  • Get employed by a company who uses software X which is open source, and to which they would like things added.

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#7 Choscura  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 19 August 2010 - 02:33 PM

The best business model I've seen is to sell support for an open source project. A lot of companies won't use something open source because when it's not working and needs to be fixed NOW, they have nobody to call- the most they can do is post questions on a forum and hope that they can fix it in-house based on the answers, generally- so it's a big risk for them. When a project is supported, however, the company or group supporting it are the people to go to when stuff doesn't work, which companies are happy to pay for.
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#8 Suitchiro09  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 20 August 2010 - 03:53 AM

Open source I think, is another way of testing... After receiving much positive comments about certain open source. Some tends to become proprietary... Thoughts.....
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#9 Raynes  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 20 August 2010 - 04:48 AM

Uh, no.
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#10 WolfCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 20 August 2010 - 12:39 PM

View PostSuitchiro09, on 20 August 2010 - 03:53 AM, said:

Open source I think, is another way of testing... After receiving much positive comments about certain open source. Some tends to become proprietary... Thoughts.....


..what?
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#11 dorknexus  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:21 PM

Richard Stallman says:

Quote

'Free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer.”


His, now, famous essay on the subject matter.

This post has been edited by Dark_Nexus: 20 August 2010 - 01:23 PM

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#12 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 23 August 2010 - 04:17 PM

Many individuals make money from support. For example the founder of SQLite (a public domain project) makes pretty good money just doing support for larger organizations (Apple uses it in the iProducts (iPod/Pad/Phone), FireFox uses it, etc.) and so he gets paid for both training and for general support as well as some non-F/OSS extension to the base project (the extensions are mostly of use to platforms like mobile phones that are backed by big money).

Many large organizations support Open source project and pay internal developers to work on open source projects. For example many corporations which rely on Java have staff that are paid to participate in Eclipse projects or Apache projects. These individuals get their pay-check from a company that has a vested interest in the direction and development of the project.
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#13 Mercurial  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 24 August 2010 - 04:51 AM

View PostNickDMax, on 23 August 2010 - 03:17 PM, said:

Many large organizations support Open source project and pay internal developers to work on open source projects. For example many corporations which rely on Java have staff that are paid to participate in Eclipse projects or Apache projects. These individuals get their pay-check from a company that has a vested interest in the direction and development of the project.

How does a corporation benefit from doing it?
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#14 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 24 August 2010 - 07:05 AM

Well sometimes because they develop upon a specific platform (if you look at the Apache projects many of them are just that, platforms on which other applications/servers/SSO services are built). So they benefit by seeing the platform advance which in turn takes their own products farther.

Other examples might be IBM with the Eclipse project (note that I have no special insight into this relationship and am working purely from external observation) where IBM has proprietary Eclipse based tools, so participating on the platform lets them influence the direction that the platform takes as thus allowing their own products to evolve in parallel with the project. Compare that to my own former employer which used a proprietary DOJO fork which is now woefully out of date and no longer compatible with the modern DOJO (and thus all of its extensions which is the main reason to use DOJO to begin with).

A good way of thinking about it might be that these prolific open source platforms are like open standards and there is definitely money to be made in influencing the direction of standards!

And then there is consulting... Many of the open source projects (such as the open source content management systems) are the source of revenue for consultants which don't really have a product to sell but they will take an open source platform and customize it to your needs. Here participation happens for two reasons, firstly because the consultants often learn a great deal about the product and how it can be used to solve "real world" customer needs, and secondly because again the consultants benefit by influencing the direction of the product. Generally the larger consultant organizations will build proprietary extensions and "plugins" etc. which they sell licenses for, it would truly be a shame if all of their extensions were made obsolete by a new version of the base product.

So there are many ways in which businesses form symbiotic relationships with open source products and therefore they have a vested interest in the advancement of that product and yet may not have the resources to develop a competitor. So by loaning some of their resources to the project they can contribute the development, gain vital experience with and knowledge of the project (vital for proprietary extensions), and protect their own interests in the the future direction of the project. All of that, without having to commit even a fraction of what would be required for pure proprietary development.
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#15 NickDMax  Icon User is offline

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Re: Making Money in Open Source

Posted 24 August 2010 - 07:19 AM

And in defense of poor Suitchiro09 above -- sometimes cooperation DO use open source platforms as a breeding ground for proprietary advancements. Thus the "community edition" of many proprietary projects. Though I have to say that seeing as many of the "community edition" platforms are dieing it may not be the best model. I personally feel that it would discourage involvement to know that some big company was going to take my ideas and code that I put into the community edition and plug them into the proprietary big brother. However, one can not disagree that this model is out there, although I hope that it is not as successful as the models.

(as a note, I *think* some of the "community editions" actually ended up taking over and killing the proprietary version... For example, wasn't this the initial model with OpenOffice? And some of the Linux forks? I could be grossly misinformed on this.)
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