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How to compensate developers in the Open Source World?

Posted on 2008-09-29
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Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Hello:

I am part of an organization that is creating an online platform that allows engineers to collectively work together on various technologies. Currently, most engineers work in company Silo's (like Microsoft) and we feel that opening up (using Open Source as a Model) the process to the community will accelerate the industry (which I cannot speak to yet).

Now, I know that most Open Source projects have momentum due to the intrinsic motivation of the developers, but we'd like to supplement that with financial motivation and trying to figure out the compensation structure.

Can I get some feedback on how/where the money is made around Open Source Projects?

Thank you!
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Question by:Ryman1
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WizRd-Linux earned 168 total points
ID: 22602139
Money isn't usually made from the actual application or product.  Money is made from support.

Very few companies / individuals choose to purchase linux, instead they choose to purchase support with their choice of distribution.
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by:edster9999
edster9999 earned 166 total points
ID: 22603808
Hopefully you already know and understand that 'open source' means you have to give it away for free.
If you open up your code for people to work on it is open to everyone.  Everyone can download it.  Play with it.  make it better and even rename it and pass it on as their work (as long as they also give away the source code free and follow the license rules).

This means you can not charge for the code.  
There are a few streams of revenue.  Very minor ones like selling mugs with your logo on it.
Slightly bigger ones like advertising on your web site and bigger still -
Support (as WizRd-Linux said).

The support side can come from selling phone / helpdesk type support where the user will ring you and ask you questions on your product.  This does make you more accountable.  If the code is broken you will need to issue patches for it etc.

You will need to have an extra special idea.  If you are releasing somthing that is already out there then it will be harder to attract a following - and remember that at any time a user can branch off their own version with a different name and start selling support for that taking your users away (just ask anyone who has run a distribution about that)

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by:eager
eager earned 166 total points
ID: 22607535
Many open source developers work for companies which use the projects which they are developing. For example, a company which use Apache and wants to improve its performance or functionality will hire developers who work on the project in open source.  

Some developers work on open source projects on behalf of users.  For example, I work on gcc/binutils/gdb for various clients who are interested in seeing these projects extended to provide support for their products.  

If you have a product which you want to open source, either you or your customers will generally be hiring (or contracting with) developers to enhance the product.  It sounds like you want to seed an independent developer community.  Contrary to your view, I don't think that most developers have "intrinsic motivation," where they fix bugs in software for the fun of it. They work on software because they (or their employers) need the bug fixes or enhancements.
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