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Could Your Open Source Project Support a Business?

Oct 10, 2009, 12:02 (0 Talkback[s])


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"On the surface, even the concept of an "open source software business" seems to be an oxymoron. "Open source" means software that is freely available for users to download, use, and distribute. A "software business" means charging for that software, be it from licensing, support, or documentation. So how could an open source project be used to build a software business?

"To answer this question, we need first to understand why both commercial and open source software models work in the first place. Commercial software offers features. In return for my money, this shiny package will (hopefully) offer me out-of-the-box features that meet my needs. Open source software, on the other hand, offers code. I can go somewhere, get the source code for free, then customize and extend it as I need. The software freedom that Stallman originally talked about is really a freedom through code: I am "free" with open source software not because I got the software free of charge, but because I have its source code, so I can change it to suit my needs."

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