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Earning Money with Open Source Software?

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the sweat-of-my-brow dept.

The Almighty Buck 279

An anonymous reader writes "I've been working on a financial application which I've decided to release to the public. I want to make some money from the application, though I certainly don't expect to become a millionaire. The problem is that I'd like nothing better than to open-source it. There are many aspects of the application that I don't have time to refine, and other developers could definitely improve upon my work. However, I don't know how I earn money from something once I've made it open source. How have you dealt with trying to turn a reasonable profit on your work while remaining open-sourced?"

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279 comments

Are you new here? (5, Insightful)

jawtheshark (198669) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026502)

FSF view on selling software [gnu.org]

Also: Software as a service

Finally, there is also consultancy for your own project. You need help installing it? You want a feature? Hand over the cash!

No, I haven't done it. Mainly because I'd rather not be my own boss. The payoff is high, but so are the risks. I'd rather be a wage-slave and let my boss bear the risks.

Re:Are you new here? (4, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026746)

Free software is by and for people who are scratching their own itch.

Your question could be reduced to "I've invented a new hammer that works much better than old ones, but anyone can make a hammer just like it. How am I going to make money off my hammer?"

The answer is simple. USE your new hammer to build things instead of calling a halt to your problem solving career and trying to open a hammer store.

Re:Are you new here? (3, Insightful)

thejam (655457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027186)

The answer is simple. USE your new hammer to build things instead of calling a halt to your problem solving career and trying to open a hammer store.
Are not these "things" to be built with this hammer themselves potentially hammers for still other things? Re-applying your argument, potential-hammers shouldn't generate revenue either (or at least their potential hammerness should not generate revenue). So it's primarily the things one makes that aren't themselves useful (by having a hammerness property) that generate revunue, i.e., one should be paid to create useless things!

Gotta admit that's a pretty fair assessment of the appeal of most consumer goods.

Re:Are you new here? (5, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027346)

You get enticed to solve problems, not invent tools. Money is enticement.

If you can't find a single person out there who has a problem that needs solving and involves your new tool, your new tool is useless.

A tool is a means to achieve a goal, not a goal in itself. If there is no goal at the end of the train, then yes, your whole pyramid is built of meaningless crap.

Being that this is finances he's talking about, all of it is meaningless. The value of financial software is in how close to zero you can bring the time you spend working on it, because it's all administrative overhead and no productivity whatsoever.

Financial stuff gets stale fast as laws change, so I might suggest something along the lines of:

1) Give it away, and sell its advantages strongly far and wide
2) Make it update itself to the suit the latest legal/financial environment from central servers with new data, but only for paying customers
3) Create a business model around being "The guys who watch the laws and make sure our software still suits them."

In other words, don't trap them, empower them, and make money dealing with the ongoing bullshit that's closer to your skill set than their own.

Re:Are you new here? (5, Insightful)

riseoftheindividual (1214958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026776)

Some other possibilities to add to those:

Produce a printed manual sell it from the main site.

Produce a lightweight but useful book and go into the software from more of a practical application standpoint than your standard manual/documentation, and sell it either dead tree or ebook format on the main site.

Ads on the main site.

Get a nice catchy logo for your project and arrange to sell logo'd tees, coffee mugs, etc... on your site. There are sites out there that will let you do this with little to no capital up front.

This one will be controversial here, but hey futz it... talk to some Indian support firms and see about possibly hiring them to offer support, which you then sell from the main site of the application, where you will serve as "level 2" tech support.

Most important of all, if you decide to do any of this, just freaking do it. Don't second guess yourself once you've decided. Move forward in total confidence, daily feeling/envisioning your goals attained.

Re:Are you new here? (1)

insignificant1 (872511) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027376)

A manual is a GREAT idea. Really good documentation is something I've paid for in an open source project, since it seems that many projects lack great (or good or ANY) documentation or the people willing to do such documentation.

The original developer of the code is in a great position to do so.

Good suggestion.

In short, you don't earn money, you get hired. (3, Insightful)

ehack (115197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026506)

I think that OSS doesn't make money as software for an individual, but it allows him or her to increase his or her visibility.

Value Earned is Experience & Recognition, Not (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026558)

I think that OSS doesn't make money as software for an individual, but it allows him or her to increase his or her visibility.
Ok, I don't think that you are looking at a sure fire solution here. I agree with the parent but he beat me to it so I'll post this as a reply.

For whatever reason, people often assume a false dichotomy between open sourcing code and making money. This isn't the case. A simple example of this is the ability to donate to any project on sourceforge. So a simple effortless option is to sign on to SourceForge [sourceforge.net], register your project and make yourself the sole dev. Then you just need to sit back and wait for all those donations to roll in!

Likely source of income? Not really.

So let me tell you something that happened to me. I had, in one of my classes, built an interface to GOCR (not Jack Black's band but the Gnu Optical Character Recognition project). This was a while ago. It was in C and it was shitty. I mean really shitty. I didn't even open source it. The teacher liked it though, maybe she still uses it, I don't know. Whoop de doo, right? I made a GUI to a command line tool.

Fast forward 2 years. I'm out of college and it's a bad market for developers. I show up for an interview with a company I had no idea was even into software. I show up in khakis and a button down shirt. Everyone else is in double breasted suits. I figure I'm screwed. But when I get into the interview, we started talking about open source and--wouldn't you know it--GOCR! The woman who interviewed me had used it on a project and started complaining about the command line. So I told her what I had done and talked about the algorithms and how it recognizes characters. I told her why my interface was so crappy. I got the job and I've been working there three years--they even allow me to do crazy research stuff at work!

Did I directly make money working on open source? No. But I think I got the job just on that conversation. I kinda wished I had checked in that interface as I'm sure it's lost somewhere on the university network now. What if she had actually used it?

I suggest you open source it, work with others to make it better, give it time to propagate. Then submit your resume to any place you want and list it on there. If you've made the Firefox of financial apps or prove you really understand how to design financial software, there's a lot of places you could go.

Re:Value Earned is Experience & Recognition, N (1)

hjf (703092) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026882)

same here. when I was taking the CCNA classes, I talked to everyone. they were a bunch of noobs really, so everyone was surprised when I talked about my adventures with Linux and networking. Couple of months later, I was setting up a rural WISP and sold support to them for 2 years. Now I support 2 more WISPs and I get enough money, not enough to live of course, but more than enough to buy gadgets and such. If I needed the money, I'm sure I could get more with a little creativity.

Re:Value Earned is Experience & Recognition, N (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026996)

Similar story for me, i publish a number of tools which people in my field use... As a consequence, for the last few technical interviews i've been to the guy interviewing me has heard of or even used one or more of my tools, and is often familiar with the websites i run or contributed to that publish such tools.

Re:Value Earned is Experience & Recognition, N (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027028)

Same thing happened to me. I had no commerical experience. The only reason I got hired was because I had an open source project that proved I could do the job.

Re:Value Earned is Experience & Recognition, N (2, Insightful)

sticks_us (150624) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027152)

These comments remind me of some of the things said in another slashdot article [slashdot.org] on recognizing good programmers.

I hired a dude a couple of years ago who, like you, didn't have a lot of experience.

He did, however, have a very impressive FOSS portfolio, and could show all kinds of code he wrote in support of various projects. This involvement suggested that:

0) He cared enough, as a developer, to get involved and donate his time and effort to a project, and
1) He saw his contribution as one to the "greater good" (and not entirely for personal gain), and
2) He had the stones to put his code out there for others to review and use.

YMMV, of course--this fellow got the job, and has done quite well at it.

Re:Value Earned is Experience & Recognition, N (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027348)

I've done something similar - not necessarily because I wanted to make money from it, but because I truly have a passion for learning this stuff, working with it, and creating (hopefully useful) stuff with it.

Learn from thes one who have succeeded (5, Insightful)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026514)

Learn from the ones that have succeeded, such as mysql or zend.

I'd suggest you start a company, as you are more likely to be taken seriously by possible clients. And become 'the' company to go for support, customization, etc.
There must be products who have succeeded as a one man show but honestly I can't think of any.

Also, drop the 'I don't have time to refine' attitude. If you want to make money, you have time to do whatever your clients require, unless you just feel it's wrong for your product and refuse to do it altogether.

In short, if you really want to make money, your priorities have to be the ones of your clients', unless you are confident that what you feel like doing today is what someone else will feel like buying tomorrow.

By the way, is anyone using it already?

Re:Learn from thes one who have succeeded (2, Interesting)

AlecLyons (767385) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026604)

MySQL AB, Zend, Redhat and so on are all very different entities from an individual trying to make a part time second income off a personal software project. So do you think the only way to make a direct cash return on a personal open source project is by giving over to it full time?

Re:Learn from thes one who have succeeded (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026628)

So do you think the only way to make a direct cash return on a personal open source project is by giving over to it full time?
For a product that has the word 'financial' on its description, I'd say yes.
But I'd love to be wrong.

Re:Learn from movies who have succeeded (5, Funny)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026770)

I've been working on a financial application ...
Yes, or he could learn from movies like Office Space and Superman 3 and edit the software so that it moves the fractions of cents lost in transactions to an unnamed bank account.

Also, drop the 'But they'll send me to Federal pound me in the ass prison' attitude.

Re: One Man Show (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026900)

Wayne Gould & Pappocom.

"A retired Hong Kong judge who spent several years programming a puzzle he couldn't live without".

He waltzed into a newspaper office with just his laptop, and being at the right place at the right time, single handedly boosted Sudoku.

No comments yet? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026516)

Very awkward silence.

Charge for services (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026524)

Since it's open source there is no real point in charging for the software, but you could charge for support.

bad idea (2, Insightful)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026544)

If you want to make money on it and you're the only person who worked on it, don't make it open source. Just release it for free and take donations but don't release the source. Open source implies you're going to let other people work on your code and that doesn't sound like what you want to do. Sounds like you'd just be abusing the overused term "Open Source" just because it's free and get all pissed when people e-mail you problems with your code that need to be fixed.

Re:bad idea (2, Insightful)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026792)

Errr... isn't that kindof ignoring the point of open sourcing something? So that customers can have some sort of control and assurance that they will be able to use and modify the program in years to come (when the submitter has lost interest)? So that future generations can use and modify it?

Re:bad idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026948)

Or randomware.

Make an excellent project, but make it closed and freeware. When enough money is donated, it becomes open-source.

If it's a popular application, like Blender, it'll work perfectly. You'll get money and we'll get the source. Then you just keep selling support contracts, extremely lucrative if it's something big businesses want, or alternatively just drop the project and move on to other work.

Re:bad idea (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027342)

hey shit head, do yourself a favor and fuck off.

Keep a closed-source version (1, Interesting)

Dr_Harm (529148) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026560)

In addition to the "software as a service" and "sell support" models, you could have two versions. One is open-source, the other closed source but more feature rich.

Projects like VirtualBox do this sort of thing.

Re:Keep a closed-source version (3, Insightful)

RoceKiller (699407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026700)

This just causes one problem. What if another developer chooses to improve the open-source version, then you can not use that improvement in your closed-source version as the developer has the copyright over the improvement code.
And what if it was a bug-fix and not an improvement, would you then have to keep the bug in the closed-source version?

Re:Keep a closed-source version (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026758)

I think the idea is bad for other reasons. However, in this situation, I suppose one could either demand joint copyright assignment so you can upstream the changes or if the code is really good share the revenue with the patch author.

Re:Keep a closed-source version (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027148)

However if an individual doesn't have enough time to clean up the problems, then the open-source version may easily soon overrun your closed-source money-maker.

Re:Keep a closed-source version (1)

tieTYT (989034) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027218)

Does this create a maintenance nightmare? As other replies have said, if there's a bug in one place, you gotta fix it in two places now.

Can you provide a service with the software (4, Interesting)

bihoy (100694) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026562)

From my experience, the best means of leveraging Open Source Software would be using the Saas [wikipedia.org] model. Usinng the Saas model there often are additional opportunities for income such as advertising or other tie ins.
The alternative approach seems to be in providing extended support serivces for the software as does Redhat.

FOSS != Money unless you're willing to spend time (5, Interesting)

Damocles the Elder (1133333) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026570)

If you don't have time, or you're just too lazy, to continue to add updates, and you want to make a quick buck off of it, don't OS it. It's that simple. OSS companies tend to sell support, and possibly custom-tailored upgrades.

If you think it'll be mildly popular, and you really want to OS it, throw up a paypal donation link. You may not get as much, but you'll be staying true to your scruples.

Your choice.

Easy! (4, Funny)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026590)

Easy! Just follow the ESR method:

1) Wish *really hard* that some way exists.

2) Compare proprietary software to the Holocaust.

3) Insist that it's feasible to subsist on money from writing software if you don't have a mortgage or kids and camp/forage at MIT.

Re:Easy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027406)

Your name is apropriate, mister dupe. That sounds just like the Slashdot Method:
1. Wish *really hard* that some facts were true.
2. Compare Microsoft to Hitler.
3. Pretend you have a mortgage or kids or anything else that 17-year-old basement crawlers have no hope of ever having.

financial application eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026592)

just add some code that will transfer a few points of a cent from each users account to your own.... don't worry no one will actually look at the source anyways...

make money? (1, Flamebait)

arse maker (1058608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026594)

You capitalist pig! FOSS should cost nothing and let programmers earn next to nothing, thats what we all want!

Stupid question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026602)

If you don't have a way of making money off the software now, you're not going to have one just because you open-source it.

Get people to use the software (open or not). Find out if they need/want modifications or support (and are willing to pay for it).

THEN (and ONLY at that point) can you start making money off open-source software.

Podcasts on making money in open source (5, Informative)

sauge (930823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026608)

There are a lot of podcasts on making money with open source here:

http://itc.conversationsnetwork.org/index.html [conversationsnetwork.org]

You may need to look around a little.

I have made money indirectly from open source. Basically I through it out there and some people picked it up. When they needed other projects worked on I was contacted.

Documentation is more important than code I can tell you that much. Installation documentation, user documentation and most importantly programmer documentation.

revamp all gui to be web-based (4, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026612)

and then provide the basic-feature part of the service with ad-supported revenue while charging for custom in-house solutions. After making in-house solutions and getting paid for them, release the software open source. They paid you to write the solutions -- not to own them. This way the project goals will be set by customers (and necessity is the mother of invention) and at the same time the software will remain available to those who want to tweak it.

Re:revamp all gui to be web-based (1)

sauge (930823) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026656)

If you are going to resell in-house changes it's best that is spelled out in any payment agreements.

Re:revamp all gui to be web-based (2, Interesting)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027018)

A lot of companies that do "bespoke" development of applications often reuse code too...
They may develop 10 online shopping cart apps for 10 different online retailers, but they will all be based on the same code and have the same bugs/security holes... Often the only differences will be branding and any specific customization a particular customer has demanded. However every customer will be charged for the same man-hours of coding time, even tho most of the code doesn't get rewritten.

Re:revamp all gui to be web-based (1)

FreeGamer (1001924) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027168)

You can make good pocket-money from ad-supported revenue, but building it into your application is not the way to go. What you do is have a web portal for your software - forums, documentation, task/bug tracking, news. You give users reason to return to the portal, through articles, regular updates, good documentation, good tutorials, good support, good community, and (most importantly) a well written application. Get your software on all the relevant listings - Freshmeat etc - and try and get it on popular news sites (digg, /.) to boost your users and web traffic. Using this model you can easily get a few 1000 hits a day. I mean, a single contributor could easily rack up 100 hits a day via forum viewings, documentation reading, and forum/support interaction. As the author of a news website, 1000 hits can roughly translate to $1 a day. So if you can get it up to 5000 hits a day, it's not going to pay the mortgage but it certainly helps.

Sell the .EXE files (5, Interesting)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026624)

I can't tell from TFA whether the "financial application" is a server or desktop application. Assuming it is a desktop application then I would point out that open source code does not have to mean open binaries.

Try to separate your markets. If you give it free to people who would not buy it anyway, then your increase your visibility and your network effect. You might also get some patches back.

So put the source code online, maybe even try to get it in the Linux distributions for more visibility.

However, charge for the Windows binaries/installer. Most Windows users will pay $20 rather than have to figure out how to compile it. If they do compile it anyway then their time is worth less than $20 so they could not have afforded it anyway.

Sell Windows/Mac binaries, or Sell the Interface (5, Insightful)

steve_thatguy (690298) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026876)

This is actually exactly what I was going to suggest. People running Linux are often either programmers themselves or interested in free/open source software. People running Mac OS and Windows, however, are obviously willing to trade money for the convenience of a point-and-click installer.

There's another option depending on how well you've defined a core/UI split--open-source the core engine, but charge for the GUI (or possibly for a web interface).

Re:Sell the .EXE files (2, Interesting)

kailoran (887304) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026892)

I wonder how long it would take for someone to set up a "$YOURAPP Windows Installers" site with, you know, the source along with compiled executables. And how long till that site is better known, higher in google and generating more ad revenue.

Of course you might try to prevent that with some sort of legal stuff, like using some form of General Ripoff License insted of GPL, that would disallow the distribution of executables. But then you might as well keep the thing closed source.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027210)

Well you can't really stop people putting on pirate bay either. However, people who are willing to pay will pay, and those that are not willing to pay will not.

If you are a business and you are buying the application then you will be happy to get it from the original author.

> And how long till that site is better known, higher in google and generating more ad revenue.

I really don't think it will be. It will be some corner that only people with lots of time will find, these people will not have bought it anyway.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027320)

long it would take for someone to set up a "$YOURAPP Windows Installers" site

Do you know how long it takes to make Windows installers for software, I mean it is very boring work, that is why a lot of open source has no Windows installers. Open Source software usually requires packaging up lots of dependencies into a single EXE. Unless you are really hot, we are talking like a whole day's work for a simple application.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (4, Insightful)

homer_s (799572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026894)

However, charge for the Windows binaries/installer. Most Windows users will pay $20 rather than have to figure out how to compile it. If they do compile it anyway then their time is worth less than $20 so they could not have afforded it anyway.

But won't someone just compile it and then give the .EXE for free? Some people might still buy it from him since it is the 'official EXE', but many of them would just get the free EXE.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (1)

CBravo (35450) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027154)

I would not if it is financial software... I would not if I were a business.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (3, Insightful)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027166)

won't someone just compile it and then give the .EXE for free?

Sure they will, however those willing to pay $20 will never find it. Time == Money.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026952)

Or if it's a server based app, rent access to hosted instances of the app...
Or sell appliances which come with the app already configured...

Selling the binaries won't help much, as someone else will compile it and make the binaries available. But you can make supported versions available for a price, and include priority telephone/email support with a guaranteed response time. Support which guarantees the ability to speak to the original developer if necessary is a good service.
Also charge for implementing additional/customized features to those who need them.

Re:Sell the .EXE files (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027256)

someone else will compile it and make the binaries available

That doesn't matter. People make copies of Microsoft Office available from other channels (e.g. pirate bay), however others still buy it.

People who are willing to buy it, including those that have work's expenses account, will buy it.

For the people who are not willing to buy it, they will never buy it, so let them have it free and get more exposure.

This strategy is not much than a donations strategy, but if I have my work's credit card, I can't pay for donations but I can buy software licences.

Not a good model for less popular software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026636)

If you're open sourcing a database or a telephony system that has wide appeal - sure you can make money on consulting. But if your software lacks wide appeal or is in a very specific niche market then no one will pay you to extend it. It may be useful as an example of your work if you're a consultant, but that's about it.

You've said it yourself. (4, Insightful)

k.a.f. (168896) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026664)

I want to make some money from the application, though I
certainly don't expect to become a millionaire. The problem is that
I'd like nothing better than to open-source it. There are many
aspects of the application that I don't have time to refine
, and
other developers could definitely improve upon my work.


Wow, blatant self-contradiction within three sentences! If the application
makes you money, then by definition, you can afford some time to work on it.

Re:You've said it yourself. (1)

thejam (655457) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027298)

Let t1 = time required to make first version of the app. Let t2 = time required to make some refinements of version of app. You seem to be saying that the OP should only be paid for t2, not t1. And frankly, what if the author showed some creativity in creating that first version, i.e., conceptual stuff that may not itself have required programming time, but serious thinking time, bookwork, mathematics, a Ph.D., etc. None of this has value?

Shouldn't you already know how to earn money? (0, Flamebait)

VampireByte (447578) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026682)

If you know enough to write a financial application shouldn't you know how to earn money?

Ensure there is a demand for your software! (4, Insightful)

Yahma (1004476) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026686)

I'm the author of LiarLiar [sf.net], an open source Voice Stress detector. Over the years, I've had several offers from various individuals and companies to further develop or improve upon the software. If you develop software that has enough demand, you may be able to offer support services for your software. Don't expect to get rich, or even be able to make a living for that matter.

The most important thing to keep in mind is, make sure you have a backup source of income. Either a job or something else, as it is unlikely that you will be able to make enough supporting an open source project, unless it becomes very popular.

sell a service on top (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026696)

We've done quite well with open sourcing our antispam product http://firetrust.com/en/products/oss/mailwasher-server [firetrust.com] by giving away the main product and selling a value added service on top of it - this being an enhanced spam filter service we run.

I think the giving away something for free and selling a few enhancements is probably the easiest way to make money, much more so than consulting and support which directly takes up your time.

Nick

OSS or not nearly matters squat. Marketing is key. (2, Insightful)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026742)

Wether your software is OSS or not hardly matters anything - unless it's a small desktop app or something. Marketing otoh is key. If your software is ready for market and you have a working developement pipeline up and running be sure to prepare professional branding of your software and it's future community before hand. All successfull OSS projects have solid marketing, good looking websites and are generally attractive to work with and give money to. I'd also not underestimate donations and sponsorships.

all about the portfolio (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026750)

I'm by no means a rich person, but I've landed my career [ideal job] because the people who hired me were already avid users of the software I give out for free.

Basically, it works along the lines of market. If what you're doing is useful, well done, and people need it, you'll be rewarded. With money, praise, attention, a job, who knows. If what you're doing is not useful (e.g. what 99% of script monkey developers do) you'll scrape by and be largely unrewarded.

Just because you can make something compile and tarball it up doesn't mean you're doing something useful. You need to identify a know deficit and provide a solution.

One of the more annoying things that OSS folk tend to do is ship out some untested 0.01alphabetaomgbbq release, then start whoring themselves out. Worry more about the quality of what you're doing, rather than the attention it's getting. If it's truly well done and useful the word will spread.

As someone who hasn't applied for a job since college, I can definitely say this strategy has potential.

It's about the commitment (1)

dandaman32 (1056054) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026756)

A lot of developers believe that somehow they are entitled to money just because they're good-hearted enough to release their software as FOSS. I'm not saying this is necessarily you, but I hold a strong view that if you serve it, they will come. Write software that does exactly what people expect it to with a UI that they can understand. Listen to (read?) support requests and respond to even the most stupid questions in a way that is tactful and informative. If you do a good job and show a genuine commitment to your project, people will donate.

Also, and I can't stress this enough, be VERY careful about asking for donations. If you nag people to death about it then you won't ever get a cent. Nagging, at least in my experience, is usually defined as a reminder to donate when your software is started or closed, or a prominent animated/garish button on your website.

From my own FOSS project's Donations page [enanocms.org]:

Many developers of Free Software tend to believe that they are somehow entitled to money just because they develop Free Software. They see their work as a source of money. ... We don't believe in that sort of crap. Free Software should be free (duh). We also don't believe in nagging users to death about donations, because we know that if you want to donate, you'll go onto the site and donate. So here you are, the only donate button in the entire Enano universe.
--Dan

Sell to people who want to buy (2, Insightful)

OSPolicy (1154923) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026774)

You sell OSS the same way you sell to anyone else: you sell to people who want to buy because they value what you offer.

There's not necessarily a lot of overlap between people who need financial software and people who know how to build and validate software that they downloaded from the net. Those people value software that works out-of-the-box. Give it to them and charge them for it. There's also not a lot of overlap between people who treat their money as if it were important and people who entrust their financial data to an unknown app from a provider they can't identify. So be the known, trusted source for a known, documented app and charge people for it.

Be sure to make it possible for people to do what you want them to do. If you're going to make it open source with the idea that others will pick it up and make improvements, thoroughly document what's there, how to build it, how to give changes back, how those changes will be moderated, what you'll do when two people submit conflicting changes, and all of the other stuff that's required for an ongoing open source project to which people will contribute.

By the way, there's a lot of open source out there, but not nearly as many open source developers. If you've got an app in which you yourself are no longer interested, you don't necessarily have the next million-developer piece of software sitting on your disk. No disrespect intended; I'm just saying that you may want to do a reality check before you get too far into this.

Simple - You don't (directly) (1)

pla (258480) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026786)

There are many aspects of the application that I don't have time to refine
...
However, I don't know how I earn money from something once I've made it open source.

Short answer: You don't.

Longer answer - You've written a pair of contradictory statements there. Making money from FOSS requires you to stop thinking of the program (whether executable or source) as a final product to sell.

You need to view the program as a hook. People use it and either want support or more features, and they pay you for exactly that. However, you've already stated that you don't have the time to further refine the program, which also implies you don't have time to do support for the program. Thus, you will not make money selling your program if you release it as FOSS (and unless you have something really quite impressive, you won't make money on it in a closed version, either.

Sad but true. If you do FOSS, do it for the love of doing it, because it almost certainly won't bring you any profit.

Re:Simple - You don't (directly) (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026934)

Exactly right. The off-the-shelf commercial software and Free Software are diametrically opposed. This is why Microsoft is threatened by Free Software, but IBM is not. People don't pay money for Free Software, they pay for people to write Free Software.

Without knowing more about this program, I can't give very specific advice since the best exploitation route depends a lot on the target market. Talking to other people who write financial applications, I've been told it's a great market to be in because the government changes the rules every year and so there is always a demand for new versions. This being the case, you could possibly sell a service for people getting early access to the new rule-sets for this year's rules.

Selling support is a popular way of making money from Free Software, but remember that support in this context does not mean telling people how to install and use it (that's what documentation is for), it means being willing to modify the software to create something that exactly matches the needs of the customer. Free Software gives you an advantage over other consultants doing this because you already have a program that you know well that does 90% of what the customer wants, so you only have to add the remaining 10%, while your competitors might have to start from scratch. And, of course, you only need to make the changes once and can then use the modified version as the starting point for the next customer.

How is this news? (1)

BrianHursey (738430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026832)

How the heck is this news? This would be a question for a forum. Not the main page of slashdot.

Re:How is this news? (1)

lattyware (934246) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027038)

You must be new here.

Re:How is this news? (1)

BrianHursey (738430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027058)

Nope... Well I don't post much however stories are normally more interesting than this.

Re:How is this news? (1)

Marcion (876801) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027356)

Well I think the site maintainers gage the popularity of various topics by how many comments there are. So you have effectively just voted for this story twice!

P.S. I think it is quite a relevant story to a lot of people here.

creators' planet/population rescue kode free (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22026838)

no gadgets required. it's also newclear powered, totally bug free & extremely user friendly. yOUR money's worth less&less every day now. let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20071229/ap_on_sc/ye_climate_records;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080108/ts_alt_afp/ushealthfrancemortality;_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [yahoo.com]
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/31/opinion/31mon1.html?em&ex=1199336400&en=c4b5414371631707&ei=5087%0A [nytimes.com]

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events.

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&q=video+cloud+spraying [google.com]

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb);

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/28/vermont.banning.bush.ap/index.html [cnn.com]

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/03/bush.veto/index.html [cnn.com]

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids;

http://www.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/12/12/bush.war.funding/index.html [cnn.com]

& pretending that it isn't happening here;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article3086937.ece [timesonline.co.uk]
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3046116.ece [timesonline.co.uk]

Making money w/ FOSS (5, Interesting)

LorenzoV (106795) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026868)

Here's how I did it.

Once upon a time I was a completely unknown, but reasonably competent, software developer. I worked for a big mainframe maker. The software I worked on was proprietery and completely invisible.

Many suspected mainframes were all but history. I decided to learn to write for a different platform: PC, Unix. So, I bought a PC, taught myself C/C++. Now what? There was a open source project whose software I used. I felt it needed a big feature. The author wasn't interested in doing it, but was very helpful in getting me started on interfacing with it. I ended up writing a big plugin for it.

That piece of work gave me some personal visibility and credibility in the open source community, and a "portfolio". When the layoffs happened, because of my work on the project, I knew some folks at a shrinkwrap software company. My "portfolio", a demonstrated ability, got me a job with the shrinkwrap company. --- My old employer, the mainframe maker, spiraled down the bowl into oblivion.

The point of the story is that the software I wrote in the FOSS model didn't make any money for me, but it gave me, an introvert with little public persona, nor desire to have one, visibility and credibility to those who would hire me.

That may work for you too.

Three reasons to open-source (3, Insightful)

apankrat (314147) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026890)

There are three core reasons to open-source -

* to solicit improvements (see Linux)
* to facilitate adoption (through implementation transparency, see OpenVPN and TrueCrypt)
* for personal reasons (to brag or to support political agenda, see libevent or IO language)

These can be mixed and matched, but it typically helps to understand WHY you are open-sourcing. That's a first step.

Second step, if you want to make some $, is determining (funny enough) your business model. You can make money off the open-source either via the support or via dual-licensing.

Support model does not really scale, because in order to earn twice the money, you have put a double effort. It is also more of a sales task, which you may or may not have an inclination or an ability to so.

Dual-licensing *is* a way to go, but it implies that the code is non-trivial, solid and mature. Otherwise it does not make any sense for a 3rf party to become dependent on something that's not quite ready with an uncertain future. This automatically implies that you should not be open-sourcing the code that needs work.

Keep in mind that it's often possible to find someone willing to purchase the project as is from you. Depending on the arrangement you may also retain a right to influence further development of the product and/or land a mid-term contract gig.

2c

Let's Make Lots of Money (3, Funny)

STrinity (723872) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026898)

There are many aspects of the application that I don't have time to refine, and other developers could definitely improve upon my work.


So you've developed crappy software, you don't want to put the effort into making it good, but you still think people will pay you money?

You are Bill Gates, and I claim my five dollars.

Re:Let's Make Lots of Money (1)

bogidu (300637) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027092)

With the exception of the fact that Bill Gates will not allow you to IMPROVE the product you buy from him. This person is saying "pay me a little bit of money for my time, and fix what you think is broken." I'm SO there on this idea, especially if the beginning product is functional, flexible, and priced accordingly.

Will It Make Money "Closed Source"? (3, Insightful)

nick_davison (217681) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026914)

Maybe I'm reading too much in to the phrasing here but I noticed:

There are many aspects of the application that I don't have time to refine, and other developers could definitely improve upon my work. However, I don't know how I earn money from something once I've made it open source.
Is this something that would make money on its own, with the time that's being put in to it?

Or is it at the point where it's essentially a "nice idea" that's been taken to about typical shareware quality? Something that's not even close to standing on its own as a traditional boxed product, revenue generator without a lot more development work put in by a lot more people?... People that the goal is to get for free from the Open Source movement rather than actually hire?

Back during the dotcom days, I'd get approached daily by someone new from sales or marketting within the large multi-national I was at. They heard I was a good coder and they wanted to know if I'd be willing to join their start up as the lead coder.

I'd check their business model. They always planned the same thing: Who's paying for this? "We'll get VC interest." OK, what idea do you have? "We'll find someone with a cool idea and fund it with that VC money." So you're planning on getting VCs to fund you, to do the VCs' job, with you then taking the millions dotcoms are supposed to make their owners? I don't see this working. At that point, I always politely declined.

Just as I questioned their entitlement to make money and, on a less manipulative level, their simply having deluded themselves... I'd question anyone who doesn't really have a fully featured product, that's not at a point where it can make money on its own, without needing Open Source devs to take it to the next level for them - work they won't pay for because it's "open source" but they'd still like a reasonable profit from for themselves.

Dup article - here's the last submission (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026932)

I think we covered this in detail here:

What is the Best Way to Start a Paid GPL Project?
http://ask.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/10/05/1756217 [slashdot.org]

Generally, making "writing code that you give away" your life's work is generally a bad way to go about things if "steady paycheck" is what you desire (unless you're working for someone who's already figured out the business model).

If you are interested in making a profit, follow the advice of other posters here and figure out what people WILL pay for first, and then avoid giving whatever that is away.

Forget it (3, Interesting)

dskoll (99328) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026954)

It's virtually certain you will not make a living from free software.

Our business model is to have a core GPL'd product that is solid, but geared for sysadmins and technical people. We then have a more user-friendly and spiffy product layered around it that is traditional proprietary software (although we do ship with source which is somewhat unusual.

Hard-core techies or FOSS-only people are happy with the GPL'd product, and others buy the commercial product. The GPL'd product is also a good hook and marketing vehicle, as well as a proving-ground for new ideas, scalability enhancements, etc.

Pre-paid (3, Insightful)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22026992)

The trick is to get paid, or enter a contract to be paid, before you do the work. People need some functionality, and you write it for a price. As a byproduct, you release the code as free software. It gets easier over time, as you and your code gains reputation.

I have made a living that way for the last 12 years.

It is a change of mindset, you get paid for your work, not for your code, just like if you were an ordinary wage slave. The difference is that since your code is free, you are too, you won't lose it when switching client.

Pretty well covered... (2, Insightful)

kgwagner (611915) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027068)

There's a lot of insightful information here already, so I'll just add a bit and reinforce some... There's nothing in the GPL (any version) that says you can't charge for your software. Whether people will pay is another story, since they don't have to. But, many people don't want to compile or jump through hoops installing, or even downloading the software in the first place. So, one way to start is to just offer the disks for sale. Almost anybody will pop $5 for a pre-burned disk with a reliable install routine on it. Since CDs cost about 25 cents apiece, and take about 5 minutes to burn, and cost about 50 cents to ship, you're still $4.25 up not counting your labor. If you find you're selling a lot of them, you can always hire a fulfillment service. That'll drop your per-unit sales profits a bit, but it takes workload off you so all you're doing is collecting checks. Adding the project to Sourceforge is a good way to get help, if you haven't the time, inclination, or wherewithal to put the finishing touches on it. There's no money in that, but it improves the product and its uptake. Support is a good way to make money, but if you don't have the time or resources for that, then you may not want to put it out there at all. Besides, outside of corporate users, paying for support sounds like crime to most people

Drop us a line... (0, Offtopic)

Wonderkid (541329) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027070)

...we're doing something similar and assuming you have done something cool, perhaps there is room for co-operation? owonder.com/contact

Do it like others have.... (2, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027074)

Fair Use wizard http://www.fairusewizard.com/ [fairusewizard.com] makes some money and that is completely OSS. You can find guys that have recompiled the OSS release but it's always behind the main release and has no support.

I buy it on a regular basis, and recommend it to clients and friends.

Don't believe all the stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027090)

Unless your project becomes as popular as the major open source projects like MySQL, PHP, SugarCRM, (millions of downloads) you won't make much, if any on "support services".

I currently work for a open source software company that is the only one of its kind in the world, we had about 50,000-75,000 downloads in its first 12 months of being open source, but the amount of revenue from support would barely pay a single employees salary. Instead this is what we hear everyday:

"You have a manual right? Great, we will try that first then."

Often after a few days they call back and say:

"Your manual doesn't go into enough detail, don't you have a better one? No?! Well we don't want to buy support if you manual can't help us!"

Of course we find customers usually say the manual doesn't go into enough detail when they haven't actually read it, because once we direct them to a specific page/section they happily thank us and hang up the phone. Open source has done a GREAT job of making people think "Its 100% FREE", which brings out the people who don't want to spend a dime on anything. Its hilarious how many phone calls we get to a 1-800 number that go like this:

Them: "Hi there, your software is free right?"
Us: "Yes, it sure is!"
Them: "Great, can you help us install it?"
Us: "Sure, we would love to, do you current have a support package with us?"
Them: "No, you said it was free though?"
Us: "The software is free, however we charge for support"
Them: "Oh, well I want free software. Thanks, bye!"

The problem with making money on support services is that you need software that the best manual in the world isn't really going to help people at all. If thats not the case, then trying to sell support services is admitting that your manual is terrible or your software is too difficult to use. You will only be selling support to people who:

a) Don't have any time and want to be up and running ASAP, which means you do everything for them.
b) Too lazy to read the manual anyways.
c) Broke something, and need it running again ASAP.

Unfortunately without having a huge user base there just aren't enough of these people. Not to mention that their is often a inverse relation between improving your softwares usability/manual and your bottom line.

Then to top it all off, IF you do get to a point where a one man show can make a living off support services, you never have time to improve your product because you are always busy with customers. Its virtually a no-win situation.

Having said that, custom development is a whole different ball game. This is a great way to make money because it not only improves your product on other peoples dime, you can charge a premium for it. Often two or three times what you can for support. Its usually fairly low volume as well though.

Instead of concentrating on support services, you need to come up with a way to make several different editions of your product. Something like what MySQL/SugarCRM does, a "Community Edition", then a "Professional Edition" that adds certain important features or functionality. You then need to do whatever it takes to undermine your support services so you can build your install base as much (and as fast) as possible. Fancy installers, a GREAT manual, video tutorials, everything. You need to get people hooked on the free edition then entice them to upgrade every chance you get. Obviously its much better to have someone call to purchase the "Professional Edition" at $500 then get off the phone in 5 minutes, compared to having them pay $100 and being on the phone for 1-2hours asking questions and monopolizing your time.

Fortunately in our line of business we sell both software, and hardware that accompanies it. For us the hardware is actually what brings in the majority of the revenue and we do extremely well because of it. Without the hardware we would still be in business, but we would be struggling with the size of our current user base.

Like most things, its a numbers game. Sell support services, sell custom development, they will all help, but you need to concentrate on selling the SOFTWARE, thats where you will make money, and usually at the expense of both support and custom development revenue. You can still be "open source" and charge for your software (ignore the zealots), you don't have to give 100% of it away for free. If your software is something that only fills a small niche market it makes it that much more difficult to make a living. Expect revenue to come from about 1 in every 500-1000 downloads.

Its not easy, but it can be done, it just takes time!

Re:Don't believe all the stories... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027294)

Oh yeah, one other thing. People always assume:

"Well, if I open source it, other developers will pick it up and add features for me."

This couldn't be further from the truth! Developers come with popularity!

I've started several open source projects, several of which are the most popular of their kind (tens of thousands of downloads a year), and if I combined every outside patch from every single one of them, I could still count them on my fingers/toes. Most of the patches I had to re-write myself to clean them up and fix bugs anyways, so they didn't save that much time to begin with, they simply proved that at least one person was willing to spend some time on that particular feature.

The busier I got with the latest project, the less time I could devote to older projects, and you can see the effects immediately. Until you get into the hundreds of downloads or millions of downloads per year, don't expect to get much if any help.

From personal experience... (2, Interesting)

jalet (36114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027124)

You can earn some money with entirely Free Software, although I can't live only on this for now.

What I do is give free access to subversion tree to everyone.

But I sell login accounts which allow people to download the software in packaged form (tar+gzip, Debian, Ubuntu, RPMs) including the compiled PDF and HTML documentation (vs SGML only from subversion), for a modest amount (25 EUROS or US$, and yes I know this is definitely NOT the same).

All people who pay to download such packages are allowed to redistribute them under the terms of the GNU GPL v3. In practice, to my knowledge nobody did. It would be interesting to know why...

In addition, I sell 8x5x365 technical support contracts.

Provided this is not a full time job, I think I do pretty well [pykota.com], equivalent to around 1/3 to 1/2 of my full time job's salary.

Still missing the holy grail (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027126)

I've been working in a software company I founded with my friends at university some eight years ago. We have created a software platform for certain industrial computation tasks and believe it could very well be used in many other applications, especially for research purposes. We have frequently spoken about open-sourcing the platform, but always faced the same question: where's the money? We get a decent income for the applications we build on the platform, but haven't been able to figure out any financial benefits on open-sourcing neither the platform nor the applications. Following the discussion here it seems that no one really has found a working solution. Selling support or custom upgrades is not what we really want to do as engineers, is it?

Don't forget, is not a metter of philosophy (2, Insightful)

pressdocebo (1148695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027138)

Hi, I own since 4 years an Open Source company called Docebo (www.docebo.com), we offer an e-learning platform developed by us but released under GPL because we don't want that the customer pay for every student and we also want that the customer own all the software, data, code and course without being "linked" to us. We are based in Italy We have as customer italian Branch of SKY Television, AON Insurance and many other companies that generally have more than 50 Milion U$ or more than 500 Employees, next challenge will be market our services worldwide. Your problem is not a "software" problem but business problem, your problem will not be develop a software but find customers, you will not be a developer but you will be a manager. More verticalized is your product more money you can do, more services you will find more business meeting you will have ... Regards Claudio

Binary Convenience License (1)

crankyspice (63953) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027156)

I've been meaning to sit down and draft a license for my own (and others', obviously) use, that would be sort of a hybrid license. Binary (re)distribution would be prohibited, but source code could / would be freely available and (re)distributable. Businesses, people who don't want to run `make`, etc., could have an easy one-click installer downloaded for a fee; shell / compiler literate people would have the source and could work with it and continue to pass it along, but couldn't offer binary downloads, just source.

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027240)

Add a Registratin module to your code, making it expire in 15 days without a registration key (like Shareware). Then obfuscate your code. ;-)

Granted, this probably defeats the purpose of making it OSS...

That GNU.org article really only talks about distributing software for a fee. And maybe you could try that, requiring people to paypal you $10 or so before being able to download it from your site--but if your product becomes popular it will quickly show up on other sites for less money or free.

It's still a mystery to me how Mozilla pays its core programmers, other than by getting huge kick-backs from Google et al.

options (1)

pyropunk51 (819247) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027270)

I have open sourced several projects in various stages of completion and the way I see it you have several (not mutually exclusive) options:

1) software as a service - use sourceforge marketplace or something similar (this option I have not tried yet)
2) accept donations for your project - current yield for me in 3 years $30
3) pepper your website with ads. not very nice and may put off some users but it does generate income - current yield $64

Thats it other than creating a foundation/company and getting a sponsorship.

Re:options (1)

pyropunk51 (819247) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027312)

Oh and i forgot

4) nagware: have not tried to do this as any reasonably proficient programmer will be able to remove the nag and repackage, but it may generate a higher donation yield

Sell it first, then open it a few years later... (1)

Bones3D_mac (324952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027278)

As long as you own the code for your product, I don't see why you couldn't simply try selling it as shareware until you're finished supported it, then simply release it later on as an open source project when you're ready to retire it. If you come up with any useful tricks for it in your closed-source development cycle, others could take advantage of it later on when you finally release it into the wild.

Software Liability , Programmers vs Consultants (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027288)

By all means, release it open source, but once you start making any sort of money from it, you are open to all sorts of liability.

This is especially true for financial applications. I hope you have an iron-clad terms of use, that releases you from any sort of legal action from the consequences of failed software.

it would suck if say bug X in your application results in Y real financial losses. As a consultant you can be held liable. As a simple programmer though, you should be in the clear.

Standard disclaimers apply, IANAL, etc, etc.

Stand the problem on it's head. (3, Insightful)

domatic (1128127) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027306)

How would you make money with this as a purely closed source app? To make money as a closed source app, it has to have some polish and depth of functionality out of the box. You'll have to put it into it precisely what you say there isn't time or energy for. Implicit in making it a FOSS app is the hope that others will supply some of that time or energy but you have to trade off at least some of the personal exclusivity you could enjoy if you keep it proprietary.

If you go some sort of FOSS route then is there any data this applications depends on to run. Financial apps in many domains have to be aware of tax rates or some sort of other specific data that has to be compiled for it to be useful. Compiling that data and keeping it current is at least as big a job as writing the code. If your app is in that category, then I suggest opening the code and charging for the domain specific data it needs to be useful.

You ARE allowed to sell OSS (1)

Unconventional (804875) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027316)

You are allowed to sell Open Source Software. BUT, you must include the source code with the distribution that you sell. And, you can't prohibit the buyer from giving away the copy which he bought. You are entitled, however, to receive upstream any changes that are made, and no one is allowed to remove your copyleft on any portions of the code that you wrote. If you worry that someone who buys your software might resell it, you can't stop that, but you can always undercut their prices. Open Source is not the same as free software. It means that the user is given the right to modify the code if they so wish - and if they re-release it, must also do so under the GPL (or LGPL, or whichever one you choose).

Welcome to hell. (0, Offtopic)

adougher9 (1092141) | more than 6 years ago | (#22027336)

There are plenty of ways to earn money with FLOSS. But why would you want to? Worshipping money and sex isn't all its cracked up to be. Besides hell sucks. How about this, start a commune of FLOSS software people, and play, not work. Start a no work club - despite what the slave drivers say in Hell, its perfectly legit to not work. Besides, by writing free software and releasing it to the public (best if for no charge), you will contribute to the human condition more than just about anyway else, provided the software is not evil (and considering financial software, unless its personal stuff like GNUCash it probably is evil). You're still going to die, and only then will you make your escape. BTW, you are assuredly going to heaven, because you cant be sent to hell, bcause ur already there.

Open Source (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22027360)

How have you dealt with trying to turn a reasonable profit on your work while remaining open-sourced?


Noooo! Making money from software is eee-vill; information wants to be free! (Surprisingly, I haven't seen that obnoxious mantra here in a while)

Why the preoccupation with being open source? There will be many people out there who will be more than happy to rip you off, don't help them to do it.
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