Is Open Source profitable?

money eat

Says Richard Stallman: Free Software is not free software (…) in fact you can make money with Free Software.

It is assumed that the Free Software business is in the support and to a lesser extent in other alternatives such as training or selling the physical software CD. According to Stuart Cohen, former CEO of the OSDL (an organization that concentrates the efforts of companies to develop Linux for the business field) in Business Week that model is not working for some reason and exemplifies it with the businesses of the large Microsoft and Sun which have not been able to convert into large dividends nor the deal with Novell (SuSE) nor the acquisition of MySQL respectively.

Open-source code is generally great code, not requiring much support. So open-source companies that rely on support and service alone are not long for this world.

Translated and paraphrased: Open source is generally so good that it doesn't need support, so companies that rely solely on support have no future.

With this phrase I don't know whether to laugh with happiness because Free Software is good or cry because there is no business. Of course, the author highlights the work of Red Hat by adding value to its distro by offering support for its kernel that can only be obtained by paying and for which, therefore, Fedora or CentOS are not enough, no matter how much they resemble them. .

I'm not an economist, I'm just an accountant, so I couldn't rate the article, I can't say if it's good or bad, but maybe there are some strands to put together, it doesn't quite convince me, I find it somewhat terrifying. Because if the model of offering the software freely and charging for the support does not work, it is that we have a problem with the classic Open Source business model and how you could make a living from it.

Another phrase to note in the article is that, according to him, companies should see the model of open source as a means and not as an end.

Here he insinuates that the collaborative effort should go on the side of the developer companies, those that make the distros and large companies such as those that contribute developers to maintain the kernel (I put it as an example only) but perhaps sell proprietary software or the minus a product that encourages you to pay. There are licenses that support this model, they are the famous ones MIT y BSD allowing work on open software and then make it proprietary.

The questions

What we can discuss and talk about that would be very entertaining is if we believe that Free Software is going to leave the hobby field, if you imagine, some of you who are programmers living off Free Software and if the rest of us who are software clients imagine paying for an official support.

There was something we talked about in «What is a Free Software user?«. What's up two concepts, the Free Software user and the free user (which is free in this case to "use" free alternatives as proprietary ones), that is a conclusion that many of you drew and that is felt in what Stuart Cohen raises, but not on the side of people like you but on the side of the companies that sell the software.

But if you stop sharing the code with companies and the common people kill the spirit of Open Source? Open Source allows you to open the code and then close it But that could reduce the quality of the software as there are fewer eyes to review it, maybe yes, maybe not, Cohen does not call on companies to become Microsoft but proposes to reduce access to code to maximize profits or to deliver software to the company. measurement of the needs of the company based on a free code but with personalized payment and proprietary modifications.

Everything is debatable, although there is a man who is going to faint with these sayings, his initials are RMS.

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  1.   Snead said

    If I want to make money with software (whether it is free or not) I must do the following (I do not say that I support this but it is like that):

    1. I make a program
    2. I improve it
    3. I improve it a lot, until I make it excellent
    4. Being excellent I have many clients
    5. I only develop it a little every so often to release new versions, because if I develop the software a lot, I am left without new versions to sell.

    At point 5 we can divide it in two:
    a) If it is closed software:
    I am developing the program little by little to release new versions that are the same or a little better than the previous one
    b) If it is open software:
    The new versions come with small bugs, so that the software needs paid support

    Unfortunately this is the case, for a program that wants to make money, like RedHat.

    Why do you think Windows doesn't develop as much anymore and Mac develops into an excellent OS?
    And, it's easy, Windows doesn't mind improving it a lot, if it already has many clients, what it does is change the graph and ask for more hardware: P


  2.   rafael hernandez said

    I have to open the debate. Thanks.

    Well, on this subject I have discussed with locals and strangers, and each one has their vision.

    I agree with this man with Stuart Cohen in that open source is already very mature, stable and reliable. But I do not agree that there is no business, if not, rather, a reduction in business.

    As an entrepreneur, I do not want to go into details of how the program works, and for that reason I contract a support on the product, and I contract it directly to the manufacturer of said product, because my confidence in the answer, knowledge and good work about their own product, it reassures me.

    In these forums, I pushed for the freedom of the user, for my freedom when deciding which software to use, be it the so-called "proprietary" or the open one.

    In both types of software there is a support. When it comes to choosing Oracle or MySQL or PostgreSQL, first I have evaluated what each one offers me, what I need it for, and to what extent I plan to go. In a highly critical system with a huge volume of data and high availability, of course, I bet on Oracle, since I have already worked many times with this database manager and it has never disappointed me. For not so critical systems, I would opt for the others, which I have also used and have been very useful.

    But choose Oracle, MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, Firebird or SQLite, to protect my investment, I would hire a support, among other things because I do not have time to do that support, nor do I have deep knowledge in case of catastrophes.

    That's my opinion. In short: SL is not so much business as before, because it is more stable and there are more users who know it, but there is still business, even if it is in the most critical.

  3.   Snead said

    I prefer to charge for my programming, than to sell a program :)

  4.   f sources said

    @Snead: Sure, I don't like that solution at all. Any other more ethical alternative? It sounds like a scam of technical services xD

  5.   Juan C said

    sources, I think they do that in all industries. And we continue consuming like crazy just the same

  6.   nitsuga said

    Payment and proprietary modifications? Is it possible? According to my understanding, if you modify a GPLized program you have to distribute it with that license ...

  7.   Ricardo said

    uyyyyy, with this topic and by the amount of comments, I see that they remained silent, because it is about money; because if I am a programmer I have to make a living from something and one can have all the philosophy of a free software user that he wants, but when they mess with one's pocket, then the potatoes do burn ... and one could throw all the mud one wants to Microsoft, but they do what they do because they are a company that sells products and that is why altruism is not their strong suit. Because it is easy to defend being a free software user and to despise those who use proprietary software, if one gets these free software, but I don't think many are willing to be developers of these programs and spend time and effort to receive anything in return and even I think there comes the "free philosophy" of which they are proud.

  8.   Snead said

    I program for hobbies, not for money :)

    I'd rather make a living as an engineer than as a programmer, all day in front of the monitor: D

    That is why I support free software

  9.   lonardi properties said

    I do not support free software because I am a programmer and I have to live on something …………….