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  1. #1

    How do the bills get paid?

    I am new to the Open Source community and have been using Linux consistently for 2 years now. I started with Mdk and then switched to Suse10 and now I really like Fedora5. I have found that the software among the community is outstanding. Comparable apps like the Gimp and Open Office, Scribus and Inkscape would cost hundreds if not thousands among proprietary aps. Not to mention the server capabilities of Unix like OS's. The more I discover among this community, the more I am amazed and the question comes to mind:”How do these people pay their bills when they devote so much time into these projects and offer it to the community for free?”

    Someone has to make some money somewhere. At least thats what I think.

    I am very thankful that these generous souls are willing to give this quality to end users like myself, and that free of charge.

    Any input is always appreciated.

  2. #2
    distributions like fedora and suse and other common ones like that make their money, not off of their standard suites, but off their enterprise versions. Few years beck, Red Hat split into 2 sides... Fedora Core the home edition, free to download etc... and also Red Hat Enterprise Linux, aimed at the business market. This does cost, but in with that cost comes the official support, this is probably where most of the distro companies get most of their money from.

    Sure they also do some form of advertising some places in order to bring a bit more money in.

    People prove me wrong if u want/can hehe
    "I am not an alcoholic, alcoholics go to meetings"
    Registered Linux user = #372327

  3. #3
    Linux Guru fingal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Birmingham - UK
    Hi - I think most open source developers have day jobs as well, but it's a good question. Personally I couldn't do it. I work a long week, and come home tired at the end of it. I don't know how open source hackers find the time and energy to write free code on top of earning a living, studying or whatever else. Actually, I don't think learning to programme is all that hard, but it's more work!

    Then again, some people like to code and would do so even if they weren't paid. The motivation for producing open source is different, but it's partly a cultural thing. Take me for example ... I'm not a developer but I'm happy to share what I know about desktops on here. Why? I could be doing any number of other things. For me it's like this:
    • I'm very conditioned to the idea of sharing information: I do that professionally;
    • I'm quite communal by nature, and it seems natural ... If it wasn't this it would be something else;
    • I think computers will benefit mankind in the long term: this is my way of helping out;
    • time isn't money - my time is my own;
    • I find the open source movement fascinating and want to learn more;
    • there are some very loose and informal social networks in open source;
    • there's a particular brand of 'In' humour/anecdotes which create a sense of belonging ...

    Probably, there are many other factors ... But it's interesting to explore. One further point implied by your question is that developing open source software full time won't pay your bills for you. This may well not be true! Linus Torvalds wrote an article once about this: some people code open source professionally and get paid very well for it, but they started out with different goals than people wanting to become MS Certs. They ensure that they get day jobs that aren't in conflict with their hacker ethic.
    I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

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  5. #4
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    There are a lot of sponsorships for developers - I know that Novell have some KDE developers working in-house for example, and recently Andrew Morton moved to a full time position in Google. There are a lot of big companies that like to invest in open source development in projects that are relevant to them. That said many just do it out of love. Think of all the artwork on or Some there are professional artists either expanding their profiles or donating time out of the goodness of their hearts, but on the other hand I would say the majority is just people who want to give something back.

    I think fingal makes some excellent points on contributing here. I asked questions here when I started and got some very good help. For the most part I found what I needed in threads that were already here and answered, and LFDO was an excellent resource for me. I still come back because I want to help others the way I was helped. Linux (or any *n?x)has a steep learning curve and although that curve is becoming more shallow with the availability of more tools, better documentation and more simplified configuration I think there is still a hell of a lot to offer new users, or existing users who would like to share what they've learned.

  6. #5
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Seattle, WA, USA
    As has been mentioned, most open-source devs have day jobs as well (including Linus!), and some are even paid by companies to write open-source software.

    Mostly though, these products are the result of a LOT of developers, and a LOT of time. GNU has been around for over 20 years, and there have been a TON of developers working on it. So while each person may not have had so much time to give, there are a lot of people out there.

    For smaller projects, it's pretty much the same. One guy (or a small team) has an idea, and hundreds of other people contribute patches.

    It's all for the love of coding, the love of open-source, and the love of community.

  7. #6
    Linux Newbie X.Cyclop's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Novell gets paid by selling Suse Enterprise/Professional.

    I think developers are contracted by Google, IBM, Sun or any big company.

    Google gets paid with publicity.
    IBM is the 2nd most seller of software solutions, after M$.
    Sun, i don't know, perhaps gets paid with Solaris.

    I thought "with GNU/Linux-Open Source you won't live" because, mostly, it's free, but it's not true.
    Many, many of the servers are running in GNU/Linux, or *BSD and Solaris, but they're the same, so you can find too many jobs as a server-network administrator.
    "Don't think about the work, think about the benefit"

    Leonardo Juszkiewicz

  8. #7
    SuperMod (Back again) devils casper's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Chandigarh, India
    its a beauty of Open Source that anyone can contribute.......

    found something missing or something which can be improved..... lets try... lets code it..... when its implemented successfully, gets appreciation and used by others...... it returns peace of mind......
    for money..... have jobs...

    <=== { casper } ===>
    It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.
    New Users: Read This First

  9. #8
    Linux Engineer d38dm8nw81k1ng's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    bigtomrodney got the closest i'd say. most OSS developers now are probably employed by big corporations to contribute code to OSS projects. IBM, Novell, RedHat and possible even MS contribute code to open source projects. it's probably these that contribute more than anyone else. the smaller projects are more personal, but the big corporations contribute to the bigger ones.

    EDIT: almost forgot OSDL. they contribute code too or so i've heard.
    Here's why Linux is easier than Windows:
    Package Managers! Apt-Get and Portage (among others) allow users to install programs MUCH easier than Windows can.
    Hardware Drivers. In SuSE, ALL the hardware is detected and installed automatically! How is this harder than Windows' constant disc changing and rebooting?

  10. #9
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Haha, yeah OSDL. I mean they do employ Linus...

  11. #10

    Thumbs up thanks for the info

    all this makes good sense. I am glad there are people out there who still do things for 'community'. I believe that the love of money is the root of evil, as well as rinky dink, cheap, fragile products. I have found the more I learn the more I need to learn. These forums are great to just browse and soak up the knowledge.

    A big shout out to all who give. Thanks.

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