Most people who are new to the concept of Open Source sometimes get confused about how such a development model can be used profitably. There are some companies out there that are making good money using the Open Source development model and software. One such company that readily comes to mind is Red Hat, the parent company of the Fedora project, another Open Source Linux based OS.
Using Free and Open Source software to make money is simple and cost effective especially for enterprises. Most Open Source software are released under the GPL which is otherwise referred to as copyleft license. This license gives you to right to use the software in anyway you want without let or hindrance. The following are 4 ways you can make money using free and open source software.
This point though simple and straightforward is often overlooked by most people. You can sell Free and Open source software under the GPL on the condition that you also pass on the same license to the buyer. This means that though you can sell the software, you would have to pass on the same right that you enjoyed under the GPL to the buyer. For example, most Linux vendors sell their distros for money though you can still download them for free.
You can provide commercial support for those who use Free and Open source software for profit. For instance, if you know of a company that uses a given Open Source software that you really are good at, you can market your support services to the company for money. You can write your own Open Source app, give it out for free and then provide paid support for it. An example of this kind of business model is that of Canonical, the parent company of Ubuntu, another Linux based OS.
You can teach people how to use Open source software for money. If you are a Linux geek for instance, you can teach people how to use Linux for profit. What ever you are good at in terms of IT, you can find a way to ‘port’ it to Open Source and teach it for money.
Become a developer
The fact that most FOSS software are developed by volunteer developers does not mean none get paid. Granted there are some who develop voluntarily in the literal meaning of the word. However, there are hundreds of programmers and developers employed by the various Open Source software vendors who get paid as any other regular employee you know of. So if you know programming, you can look into developing Open Source software for some vendor or even start your own project which you can sell for money.
These are 4 of the ways in which you can make money from Free and Open Source software. There are dozens more ways and I would love to hear some from you.