What is the economics behind FOSS?
I am a part of Indian Linux User Group Delhi (ILUG-D) and yesterday we got a question mail on the ilug-d mailing list from abhishek jain asking “where does the money comes from in FOSS?”.He ask that “What is the economics behind FOSS? How can one earn substantial money through FOSS?.I would like the through the solid reply of the mail from Raj Mathur.
1. Why do people work with FOSS?
Raj says:its pretty simple, People work with FOSS because
of one or more of the following:
– It’s better.
– It gives anyone an opportunity to go beyond just using and into
actively contributing to applications.
– There’s a strong sense of community when you’re working with and
contributing to FOSS.
– There’s a strong sense of achievement when you see your contribution
actually being used out in the wild.
– You get tons of peer approval (and adulation if you happen to be Linus
Torvalds) if that’s what turns you on.
– Your market value is higher if you know FOSS technologies.
– You believe that software should be free and try to avoid proprietary
technologies for that reason.
2. How does one earn money from programming in FOSS?
The second question (earning money programming in FOSS) is slightly
tougher, but it’s still possible to do it:
– There are bounty providers who will pay you money to write FOSS code.
RH and Google spring to mind. Sarai also does the same.
– You can specialise in extending and customising specific FOSS packages
for customer requirements. If the original package happens to be under
a GPL-like licence your results will also be FOSS.
– You can just tell your clients that any software you write will be
FOSS, and if the software is meant to scratch a specific itch they
probably won’t mind. Of course, if the software implements any part of
their business strategy they won’t be that happy with a FOSS solution.
3. How does one earn money from FOSS?
Finally, earning money from FOSS is dead easy — I do it all the time.
Rather than make out my own list of ways to make money off FOSS, let me
point you to Eric Raymond’s essay on the subject:
Specific strategies for making money from FOSS are in Chapter 9:
Note that these are ways of making money from coding; you can also make
ample money from supporting, installing, customising and integrating
FOSS components for clients.
This is the pinpoint answers by Raj “One of the greatest FOSS evangelist”, but if you have any other comments and suggestions then please feel free to say/ask here.