An overview of Open Source software Technology – What I know and what you should know as organization leaders.
It’s difficult to talk about skiing if you don’t know anything about skis or snow.
It is my opinion and perception that most organization leadership does not know enough about the Open Source movement to make a fact-based, informed decision about whether to adopt or implement Open Source software in the workplace. It is my intention with this information to share with you what I know about the Open Source movement, so that, at a minimum, you will know a little bit more about it.
I’d like to also mention that this information was actually created in document form using Open Office an Open Source software that replaces Microsoft Office and was exported as a PDF (an Adobe product) also free of charge. Open Office is mentioned later in this text. In fact, this website is running entirely on Open Source software; from the database engine, to the web server to the Content Management System (CMS) – they are all Open Source.
The Open Source Definition
Open Source software is software that can be freely used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open Source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition.
The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a global non-profit that supports and promotes the open source movement. Among other things, they maintain the Open Source Definition, and a list of licenses that comply with that definition.
For more information: http://opensource.org/osd
The Open Source Movement
The Open Source movement is a broad-reaching movement of individuals who support the use of Open Source licenses for some or all software. Open Source software is made available for anybody to use or modify, as its source code is made available.
Some Open Source software is based on a share-alike principle, whereby users are free to pass on the software subject to the stipulation that any enhancements or changes are just as freely available to the public, while other Open Source projects may be freely incorporated into any derivative work, Open Source or proprietary. Open Source software promotes learning and understanding through the dissemination of understanding.
The main difference between Open Source and traditional proprietary software is in user and property rights, the conditions of use imposed on the user by the software license, as opposed to differences in the programming code. With Open Source software, such as OpenOffice.org, users are granted the right to both the program’s functionality and methodology.
With proprietary software programs, such as Microsoft Office, users only have the rights to functionality.
Examples of some popular Open Source software products that can be downloaded and installed on your computer include Mozilla Firefox web browser, Mozilla Thunderbird email client, Google Chrome web browser, Android O.S. and OpenOffice.org.
If you want to save your organization (or yourself) the Microsoft Office Licensing Fees (i.e. the cost of buying and upgrading Microsoft Office) then you should consider using the free and Open Source OpenOffice application suite that, for all intents and purposes, replaces Microsoft Office.
Programmers who support the Open Source movement philosophy contribute to the Open Source community by voluntarily writing and exchanging programming code for software development. The term “Open Source” requires that no one can discriminate against a group in not sharing the edited code or hinder others from editing their already edited work. This approach to software development allows anyone to obtain and modify Open Source code.
These modifications are distributed back to the developers within the Open Source community of people who are working with the software. In this way, the identities of all individuals participating in code modification are disclosed and the transformation of the code is documented over time. This method makes it difficult to establish ownership of a particular bit of code but is in keeping with the Open Source movement philosophy.
These goals promote the production of “high quality programs” as well as “working cooperatively with other similarly minded people” to improve Open Source technologies.
If you own an Android smart phone you are using “Open Source” software as the Android operating system is in fact Open Source.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, two different groups were establishing the roots of the current Open Source software movement. On the east coast, Richard Stallman, formerly of the MIT AI lab, created the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation. The GNU project was aimed to create a free operating system, and used the GNU General Public License (GPL) as the software license to prohibit proprietization of the software, but allow redistribution and modification.
On the US West coast, the Computer Science Research Group (CSRG) of the University of California at Berkeley was adding improvements to the original Unix operating system from AT&T, and developed many applications, which became known as “BSD Unix”. These efforts were funded mainly by DARPA contracts and a dense network of Unix hackers around the world helped to debug, maintain and improve the system.
During 1991–1992, two significant events took place:
- In California, Bill Jolitz completed the Net/2 distribution, until it was ready to run on i386-class machines. Net/2 was the result of the effort of the CSRG to make a version of BSD Unix free of AT&T-copyrighted code. He called his work 386BSD, and it quickly became appreciated within the BSD and Unix communities. It included not only a kernel, but also many utilities, making a complete operating system.
- In Finland, Linus Torvalds, a computer science student, unhappy with Tanenbaum’s Minix, implemented the first versions of the Linux kernel. Soon, many people were collaborating to make that kernel more and more usable, and added many utilities to make GNU/Linux a real operating system.
In 1993, both GNU/Linux and 386BSD were reasonably stable platforms. Since then, 386BSD has evolved into a family of BSD-based operating systems (NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD), while the Linux kernel is used in many GNU/Linux distributions such as Slackware, Debian, Red Hat, SUSE, Mandrake, and many more.
The label “Open Source” was created and adopted by a group of people in the free software movement at a strategy session held at Palo Alto, California, in reaction to Netscape’s January 1998 announcement of a source code release for Navigator. One of the reasoning behind using the term was that “the [advantage] of using the term Open Source [is] that the business world usually tries to keep free technologies from being installed.”
Those people who adopted the term used the opportunity before the release of Netscape Navigator’s source code to free themselves of the ideological and confrontational connotations of the term “free software”.
Later in February 1998, Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond founded an organization called Open Source Initiative (OSI) “as an educational, advocacy, and stewardship organization at a cusp moment in the history of that culture.”
Who uses Open Source software?
Good question? Just Google it … “Who uses Open Source software?”
The list is long and distinguished:
The White House, FEMA, Sears, Chevron, Facebook, Google, MasterCard, CocaCola, and AOL are just a small sample.
Open Source web-based software also typically runs on Open Source servers and user Open Source scripting languages. Apache web server, MySQL database server and PHP the widely-used general purpose scripting language. According to the Zend website, there are over 5 million PHP developers in the world.
Overall webspace marketshare by Server, Database and Scripting Language as of August 2015:
Apache web server: 56.7% (25.1%-Nginx which is Open Source, 13.1%-Microsoft) – see this link.
MySQL database server: 56% (15%-MariaDB) – the database engine that powers the web.
PHP server side language: 81.2% (16.7%-Microsoft ASP) – see this link.
The figures above are Marketshare % by type followed by, in parenthesis, the next closest % and type or brand.
Who else uses Open Source Software?
Libraries are using Open Source software to develop information as well as library services. The purpose of Open Source is to provide a software that is cheaper, reliable and has better quality. The one feature that makes this software so sought after is that it is free. Libraries in particular benefit from this movement because of the resources it provides. They also promote the same ideas of learning and understanding new information through the resources of other people.
Open Source allows a sense of community. It is an invitation for anyone to provide information about various topics. The Open Source tools even allow libraries to create web-based catalogs. According to the IT source there are various library programs that benefit from this.
LibLime Koha is the most advanced open-source Integrated Library System in use today by hundreds of libraries worldwide.
The following are events and applications that have been developed via the Open Source community as and echo the ideologies of the Open Source movement:
OpenCourseWare Consortium – an organization composed of various colleges that support Open Source and share some of their material online. This organization, headed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was established to aid in the exchange of Open Source educational materials.
Wikipedia – user-generated online encyclopedia with sister projects in academic areas, such as Wikiversity – a community dedicated to the creation and exchange of learning materials.
Project Gutenberg – prior to the existence of Google Scholar Beta, this was the first supplier of electronic books and the very first free library project
Google Search Engine – this search engine has led the way in transformation of Web-based applications, such as books, scholarly journals, that are based primarily on Open Source software. Google continues to make applications based on open software. In November 2009, Google announced that it would be “enabling people everywhere to find, and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state districts, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar”
Microsoft – Before summer of 2008, Microsoft has generally been known as an enemy of the Open Source community. The company’s anti-Open Source sentiment was enforced by former CEO Steve Ballmer, who referred to Linux, a widely used Open Source software, as a “malignant cancer”. Microsoft also threatened Linux that they would charge royalties for violating 235 of their patents.
In 2008, however, Sam Ramji, the then head of Open Source software strategy in Microsoft, began working closely with Bill Gates to develop a pro-Open Source attitude within the software industry as well as Microsoft itself. Ramji, before leaving the company in 2009, built Microsoft’s familiarity and involvement with Open Source, which is evident in Microsoft’s contributions of Open Source code to Windows Azure, “its new-age web service for building and hosting applications on the net”, among other projects.
These contributions would have been previously unimaginable by Microsoft. Microsoft has also recently contributed to the Samba project, which essentially is a recreation of Microsoft’s Server Message Block (SMB) using Open Source code. This service allows Windows desktops to be integrated with Linux file servers. It can be run on many platforms and aims to “removing barriers to interoperability”. For Microsoft, this meant allowing Linux platforms to compete with their own proprietary Windows software for the sake of promoting the Open Source movement. Microsoft’s change in attitude about Open Source and efforts to build a stronger Open Source community is evidence of the growing adoption and adaption of Open Source.
Government agencies and infrastructure software – Government Agencies are utilizing Open Source infrastructure software, like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web-server into software, to manage information. In 2005, a new government lobby was launched under the name National Center for Open Source Policy and Research (NCOSPR) “a non-profit organization promoting the use of Open Source software solutions within government IT enterprises.”
Open Source Movement in the Military – Open Source movement has potential to help in the military. The Open Source software allows anyone to make changes that will improve it. This is a form of invitation for people to put their minds together to grow a software in a cost efficient manner. The reason the military is so interested is because it is possible that this software can increase speed and flexibility. Although there are security setbacks to this idea due to the fact that anyone has access to change the software, the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages. The fact that the open- source programs can be modified quickly is crucial.
A support group was formed to test these theories. The Military Open Source software Working Group was organized in 2009 and held over 120 military members. Their purpose was to bring together software developers and contractors from the military to discover new ideas for reuse and collaboration. Overall, Open Source software in the military is an intriguing idea that has potential drawbacks but they are not enough to offset the advantages.
Open Source in Education – Colleges and organizations use software predominantly online to educate their students. Open Source technology is being adopted by many institutions because it can save these institutions from paying companies to provide them with these administrative software systems. One of the first major colleges to adopt an Open Source system was Colorado State University in 2009 with many others following after that. Colorado State Universities system was produced by the Kuali Foundation who has become a major player in Open Source administrative systems. The Kuali Foundation defines itself as a group of organizations that aims to “build and sustain Open Source software for higher education, by higher education.” There are many other examples of Open Source instruments being used in education other than the Kuali Foundation as well.
Open Source in Healthcare – Created in June 2009 by the nonprofit eHealthNigeria, the Open Source software OpenMRS is used to document health care in Nigeria. The use of this software began in Kaduna, Nigeria to serve the purpose of public health. OpenMRS manages features such as alerting health care workers when patients show warning signs for conditions and records births and deaths daily, among other features.
The success of this software is caused by its ease of use for those first being introduced to the technology, compared to more complex proprietary healthcare software available in first world countries. This software is community-developed and can be used freely by anyone, characteristic of Open Source applications. So far, OpenMRS is being used in Rwanda, Mozambique, Haiti, India, China, and the Philippines. The impact of Open Source in healthcare is also observed by Apelon Inc, the “leading provider of terminology and data interoperability solutions”.
Distributed Terminology System (Open DTS) began supporting the Open Source MySQL database system. This essentially allows for Open Source software to be used in healthcare, lessening the dependence on expensive proprietary healthcare software. Due to Open Source software, the healthcare industry has available a free Open Source solution to implement healthcare standards. Not only does Open Source benefit healthcare economically, but the lesser dependence on proprietary software allows for easier integration of various systems, regardless of the developer.
Examples of software that have come out of the Open Source movement
- Linux – ( http://www.linux.org/ ) a Unix-Based operating system used predominantly in servers. The development of Linux is one of the most prominent examples of free and Open Source software collaboration: the underlying source code may be used, modified, and distributed–commercially or non-commercially–by anyone under licenses such as the GNU General Public License. Linux was developed by Linus Torvalds, whose net-worth is now 150 Million US dollars.
- Apache – ( http://httpd.apache.org/ ) a leading server software and scripting language on the web. 63% of all servers on the Internet run Apache with the next closest market leader, Microsoft IIS web server, running 17% of web servers. The Apache HTTP Server Project is a collaborative software development effort aimed at creating a robust, commercial-grade, feature-rich, and freely-available source code implementation of an HTTP (Web) server. The project is jointly managed by a group of volunteers located around the world, using the Internet and the Web to communicate, plan, and develop the server and its related documentation. This project is part of the Apache Software Foundation.
- MySQL – ( http://www.mysql.com/ ) a database management system managed by Oracle. Content Management Systems like WordPress, Drupal, CiviCRM and many other Open Source project use MySQL databases. As of July 2013, MySQL is the world’s most widely used, Open Source relational database management system (RDBMS) that runs as a server providing multi-user access to a number of databases.
- PHP – ( http://www.php.net/ ) used by a staggering 82% of all the websites on the web and is an Open Source general-purpose scripting language. Facebook, Yahoo, Apple, Flikr, Vimeo, Whitehouse.gov, WordPress, Drupal, CiviCRM all run on PHP, with an estimated 3 Million PHP developers world-wide.
- OpenOffice – ( http://openoffice.org ) an office suite software with word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation capabilities that has been downloaded and installed 60 Million times. And was used to create this document.
- Mozilla – ( http://mozilla.org ) Firefox web browser and Thunderbird e-mail client, both of which are free, Open Source. Mozilla Firefox amounts to 25% of all web browsers and has significant privacy controls.
- Wikipedia – ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page )Online encyclopedia open for anyone to update and revise content. Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on an openly editable model. Wikimedia Foundation revenue was 51 Million US Dollars at fiscal year-end in June 2013.
- WordPress – ( http://wordpress.org ) The WordPress CMS has been downloaded and installed 70 Million times, runs 59% of all CMS-based websites on the web and runs 22% of ALL websites on the Internet as of May 2014.See: http://en.wordpress.com/stats/ and http://w3techs.com/technologies/overview/content_management/all
- Drupal – (http://drupal.org ) Drupal is an Open Source content management platform powering millions of websites and applications. It’s built, used, and supported by an active and diverse community of people around the world. 1,058,102 people in 230 countries speaking 181 languages power Drupal
- Examples website that use Drupal include:
The White House (http://whitehouse.gov),
US Department of Commerce (http://www.commerce.gov/),
US Department of Energy (http://energy.gov/),
Federal Emergency Management Agency (http://www.fema.gov/)Federal Communications Commission ( http://www.fcc.gov/ )National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ( http://www.nasa.gov/ )
- Examples website that use Drupal include:
Strengths of Open Source software
- The collaborative nature of the Open Source community creates software that can offer customizability and, as a result, promotes the adoption of its products.
- The Open Source community promotes the creation of software that is not proprietary, resulting in lower costs.
- Individuals who have intrinsic interest in code writing and software creation motivate the development of Open Source software within the community. This differs from proprietary software, which is often motivated through potential monetary gains.
- An Open Source tool puts the system administrator in control of the level of risk assumed in deploying the tool.
- Open Source provides flexibility not available in closed products. The hope is that individuals make improvements to an open tool and will offer those improvements to the original developer and community at large. The give-and-take of the gift economy benefits the entire community.
- Open Source licenses and software can be combined with proprietary software. While Open Source was initially seen as a threat to corporations, some companies found ways to strengthen their proprietary code with Open Source code, re-releasing it as an improvement.
- In the event of market failure, programmers and innovators work together to make sure that the software still works.
Globalization of Market
The Open Source Movement has allowed smaller businesses to participate in the global economy. Before smaller businesses did not have access to the software needed to participate or compete in the global market. It was the larger corporations, the producers of the networks and software who had the power. “That is, individuals who have access to the software needed to create, organize, or distribute content can plug in to and participate in the global community”.
The creation of the Open Source Movement has created “a degree of global computing access that might have been unthinkable in a world where proprietary was the only option.” Individuals or organizations with access to an Open Source had the means needed to develop technical material for a variety of consumers. The Open Source Movement created equal opportunities for people all over the world to participate in the global economy.
Members of the Open Source Movement stress the importance of differentiating between “Open Source” software and “free software”. Although the two issues are related, they are quite different. The Open Source movement and the free software movement are different but they work together. Both movements strive for freedom of the internet and dislike the idea of ownership over a website.
For both Open Source and free software, one can find the source code and executable component easily and for free online. The largest difference is that free software requires any changes to be submitted to the original maker for redistribution, and any derivative software must also be distributed as free software. This is mainly to keep companies from making minor changes to free software and redistributing it as their own, for a price.
A major advantage to Open Source code is the ability for a variety of different people to edit and fix problems and errors that have occurred. Naturally because there are more people who can edit the material there are more people who can help make the information more credible and reliable. The Open Source mission statement promises better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in. They stress the importance of maintaining the Open Source Definition. This trademark creates a trusted group that connects all users and developers together.
To fully understand the Open Source Definition, one must understand certain terms: Free redistribution means that there is no restriction on any party to sell or give away the software to third parties. Source Code means that the program must efficiently publicize the means of obtaining the source code. Derived works means that the program must allow certain works to be distributed under the same terms.
There must be a promise of no discriminating against any certain persons or groups. All of these factors allow for the Open Source movement to become available to all and easy to access, which is their overall mission. The latest updates from the Open Source Institution took place on January 19, 2011: The OSI collaborated with the Free Software Foundation and together they updated a version of the request that they have sent to the US Department of Justice.
Motivations of Programmers
With the growth and attention on the Open Source movement, the reasons and motivations of programmers for creating code for free has been under investigation. In a paper from the 15th Annual Congress of the European Economic Association on the Open Source movement, the incentives of programmers on an individual level as well as on a company or network level were analyzed. What is essentially the intellectual gift giving of talented programmers challenges the “self-interested-economic-agent paradigm,” and has made both the public and economists search for an understanding of what the benefits are for programmers.
Altruism: The argument for altruism is limited as an explanation because though some exists, the programmers do not focus their kindness on more charitable causes. If the generosity of working for free was a viable motivation for such a prevalent movement, it is curious why such a trend has not been seen in industries such as biotechnology that would have a much bigger impact on the public good.
Community Sharing and Improvement: The online community is an environment that promotes continual improvements, modifications, and contributions to each other’s work. A programmer can easily benefit from Open Source software because by making it public, other testers and subprograms can remove bugs, tailor code to other purposes, and find problems. This kind of peer editing feature of Open Source software promotes better programs and a higher standard of code.
Recognition: Though a project may not be associated with a specific individual, the contributors are often recognized and marked on a project’s server. This allows for programmers to receive public recognition for their skills, promoting career opportunities and exposure. In fact, the founders of Sun and Netscape began as Open Source programmers.
Ego: “If they are somehow assigned to a trivial problem and that is their only possible task, they may spend six months coming up with a bewildering architecture…merely to show their friends and colleagues what a tough nut they are trying to crack.” Ego-gratification has been cited as a relevant motivation of programmers because of their competitive community. An OSS (Open Source software) community has no clear distinction between developers and users, because all users are potential developers. There is a large community of programmers trying to essentially outshine or impress their colleagues. They enjoy having other programmers admire their works and accomplishments, contributing to why OSS projects have a recruiting advantage for unknown talent than a closed-source company.
Creative Expression: Personal satisfaction also comes from the act of writing software as an equivalent to creative self-expression – it is almost equivalent to creating a work of art. The rediscovery of creativity, which has been lost through the mass production of commercial software products can be a relevant motivation.
- The structure of the Open Source community requires that individuals have programming expertise in order to engage in open code modification and exchange. Individuals interested in supporting the Open Source movement may lack this skill set, but there are many other ways of contributing.
- Programmers and developers comprise a large percentage of the Open Source community and sought-out technical support and/or documentation may not be useful or clear to Open Source software lay-users.
- The structure of the Open Source community is one that involves contributions of multiple developers and programmers; software produced in this fashion may lack standardization and compatibility with various computer applications and capabilities, however with the advent of open standards this issue has been reduced significantly.
- Production can be very limited. Programmers that create Open Source software often can turn their attention elsewhere very quickly. This opens the door for a bug filled program and applications out there. Because no one is paid to create it, many projects are never completed.
- In the Open Source industry, the user decides the quality of the software. A user must learn the skills of software creation independently and then make the appropriate determinations for quality and capabilities.
- Librarians, for example, may not be equipped to take on this new responsibility of technologies.
- There is no guarantee that development will happen or continue. It is unknown if an Open Source project will become usable, especially when a project is started without significant support from one or more organizations. Even if the project does reach a usable stage, it is possible the project can die if there is not enough funding or interest toward it.
- It is sometimes difficult to know that a project exists, and its current status. Especially for Open Source projects without significant support, there is not much advertising involved in Open Source software. SorceForge is a great resource for discovering Open Source projects: http://sorceforge.net
- Support for Open Source software varies, and support various from discussion forums to blog posts. Some Open Source software is supported through paid subscriptions for premium support.
- There is no guarantee of updates. Although Open Source software is available to anyone for free, regular updates are not assured since users do not pay for its use.
Beyond the obvious detriments towards the theoretical success of Open Source software, there are several factors that can contribute to the lack of long-term success in Open Source projects. One of the most obvious drawback is that without pay or royalty licensing, there is little financial incentive for a programmer to become involved with a project in the first place, or to continue development and support once the initial product is released.
This leads to innumerable examples of well-anticipated software being forever condemned to beta versions and unsupported early model products. With donations as the only source of income for a truly Open Source (and GPL licensed) project, there is almost no certainty in the future of the project simply because of developer abandonment, making it a poor choice for any sort of application in which future versions, support and a long-term plan would be essential, as is the case for most business software.
Organization’s with Enterprise Agreements still pay licensing agreements even if they choose to run alternative Open Source software. Therefore many organizations are unlikely to consider using alternative products. As a cost saving method of using Microsoft products, many large corporations use enterprise agreements and therefore pay a single company wide IT Licensing fee, at lower cost per product.
Organizations with EAs that are interested in alternative products can benefit from the gap-filler scenario, but only after they drop Microsoft Office from their EA at the next renewal and final true-up.
Given all of these drawbacks, Open Source products still flourish.
If it’s free, how does anyone make money?
There is a common misconception that there is no money in Open Source software. It is true that Open Source code is free to download. But when it comes to making money you should think of this as an opportunity rather than a limitation.
Businesses who make money in Open Source software include:
- MySQL (now owned by Oracle): Popular relational database.
- Red Hat: Major distributor of Linux for server and desktop use.
- WordPress.com: Widely used blogging platform.
- SugarCRM: Business customer relations management.
- Magento: E-commerce shopping platform.
- Zimbra: E-mail and messaging server.
Whether you are the creator of an Open Source project or an expert in one, here are five ways you can make money with Open Source software. Note that each of these ideas presumes that the Open Source project is using an Open Source license which permits the activity described.
1. Sell Support Contracts
A sophisticated Open Source application like Zimbra may be free to download and install, but it is a complex piece of software. Setting it up requires some expert knowledge. Maintaining the server over time can also need someone with know-how. Who better to turn to for this kind of support than the people who created the software?
Many Open Source businesses sell their own support services and contracts. Much like commercial software support, these service contracts can provide varying levels of support. You can charge the highest rates for immediate phone support and offer lower rate plans for slower e-mail based support.
2. Sell Value-Added Enhancements
Although the basic Open Source software may be free, you can create and sell add-ons that provide additional value. For example, the Open Source WordPress blogging platform includes support for “themes” or visual layouts. There are many free themes available of varying quality. Several businesses have come along, such as WooThemes and AppThemes, who sell highly-polished themes for WordPress.
Either the original creators or third-parties can make and sell enhancements for Open Source projects, making this option a great opportunity for making money.
3. Sell Documentation
A variation on commercial support, some software projects can be difficult to use without documentation. Making the source code available for free does not obligate you to give away the documentation, as well. Consider the example of Shopp or WooCommerce, both of which are e-commerce plugins for WordPress. Shopp is an Open Source project, but to access the documentation you need to pay for a license that provides entry into the web site. It is possible, and perfectly legal, to setup a Shopp store using the source code without documentation, but it will take longer and you won’t know all of the features available.
Even if you did not create the Open Source software, you can author a manual sharing your expertise and then sell that book either through e-publishing channels or traditional book publishers.
4. Sell Binaries
Open Source code is just that-source code. In some computer languages, such as C++, the source code cannot be run directly. It must first be compiled into what is called a “binary” or machine code. Binaries are specific to each operating system. Depending on the source code and the operating system, compiling into a binary may range in difficulty from easy to very difficult.
Most Open Source licenses do not require the creator to give away free access to compiled binaries, only to the source code. While anyone can download your source code and create their own binary, many people either won’t know how or won’t want to take the time.
If you have the expertise to create compiled binaries, you can legally sell access to these binaries for different operating systems, like Windows and Mac OS X.
5. Sell Your Expertise as a Consultant
Sell your own expertise! If you are a developer with experience installing or customizing any Open Source application then you have marketable skills. There are always businesses looking for project-basis help.
Websites like Elance.com, Odesk.com and Guru.com are freelance markets that can put you in touch with employers who will pay for your expertise. You do not need to be the author of Open Source software to make money with it.
Conversely as an organization or end user of Open Source software you can search those websites for a Freelancer that has the skills you need to customize your Open Source software to fit your needs.
Want to know more?
If you would like to know more about how Open Source software can potentially benefit your business or organization please feel free to contact us.