IT Employment

Turning profit with open source software: Possible?


Recently, a slashdotter posed the question to slashdot readers: how could he make money with the open source software he created? The software, ironically enough, was a financial application and he really wanted it to live under the GPL. But how could he make a buck if anyone could have it for free? Most of the suggestions were for consulting or service for the software.

But there were some posing some really good solutions. One of those solutions was to USE the software. Have others USE the software. If the software is good, others will use that software. And at some point there will be people, inevitably, who will need other features for that software. When other features are requested, it's time for those users to start opening up their purse a bit.

To me that is an ideal solution. You get the basic package for free - and that package is under the open source license. But if there's a feature you want, and you can't code it yourself, the original developer will gladly do it for free. And why would that not be a good solution? The original developer should know exactly how to implement many new features into the software. Or at least he better, because if he doesn't, any given number of open source developers could come along and create those features for themselves.

This is the ultimate catch-22 with open source software (and probably the reason why some developers shy away from it): There's no money in it. But there should (and could) be! I know some open source developers that could code circles around developers with proprietary companies.

There were other ideas to help the developer make some scratch for his labor:

  • Sell a manual.
  • Advertise on the software site.
  • Show companies the software which could lead you to contract work or being straight-up hired.
  • Create Windows binaries and charge for them.

All in all, I think the developer has plenty of options available to him. Of course it's all up to him how he moves forward. Do you have any ideas on how to make money from open source software? If so, share them with us.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

3 comments
nvrtis
nvrtis

Just because something is open source doesn't mean it is easier to install. Some people make cars. Some people make money fixing those cars. Sure, the original developer might be able to add a feature to the system. When? Do you want her to drop everything to put in your feature? You might need to pay them to get it done quicker. Same with bug fixes. And since it is open source, there is always the easy temptation to "change it" to fit your company rather than "change your company" to fit it.

Tony Hopkinson
Tony Hopkinson

Just because something is open source doesn't mean it is easier to install. And your point is? Some people make cars. Some people make money fixing those cars. The earth is round. Sure, the original developer might be able to add a feature to the system. When? Do you want her to drop everything to put in your feature? You might need to pay them to get it done quicker. And this is fifferent to commercial source how, except of course you have the option to do it yourself or to pay an other person to do it, or it might be a good idea and you'll get it for free and may even get credit with coming up with it. Same with bug fixes. Pay for bug fixes? Why would you want to do that? Ever ? And since it is open source, there is always the easy temptation to "change it" to fit your company rather than "change your company" to fit it. WTF, so it would be a bad thing to have software that fits your company's needs, as opposed to making your needs fit the software? Open Source does not and never has precluded, you me or my dog getting paid, all it precludes is you claiming the source as yours and getting paid for it, which you shouldn't because it's not yours!

jmgarvin
jmgarvin

You have business processes in place, so the software should fit those, not the other way around.

Editor's Picks