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Questions about Open Source


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i am wondering what actually is open source? for my school work this is...

The Question

• Can a company based on open source software make money?

• What are the possible business models that companies can use to make money from open source?

• What are the advantages and pitfalls of a company using open source product?

• Give some examples of companies using open source successfully.

What are the keys to their success?

am i right to say its about giving away your source code to your customers (if u sell your open source product, like red hat/suse)? so u have to give away your source code, and someone with that code can give it out free? that wont quite make sense?

and also Red Hat is paid right? means i have to pay to get the source code?

but of course open source mainly make money from the services that a open source company provides. and what else?

Dual Licensing is used by MySQL, correct? and it means that they have a Free Open Source version and a paid (is this open source/closed) version (enterprise).

for "paid" open source projects (Red Hat for example) do i pay per server? like in Windows? or do i just pay for the support/one time? is there a licensing in the first place? it isn't clear in the web site

Edited by iceangel89
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If this is for your school work (a paper I assume?), you would do well to start researching answers to these things so you can provide reputable reference sources (this means magazines, books, etc) as opposed to asking people in a web forum. Of course, we can give you some good hints on directions to start looking.

In most cases, you'll find good case studies and documentations to answer these questions. As geek points out, the licensing model used will play a great part, but you will need to take the background of what those say and compare it to some models you find out in the real-world. For your question "Can a company based on open source software make money?", look for answers to the question in terms of companies. Try to find a general sample of companies that post their revenues publicly (you'll be lucky to answer this question for private firms/individuals). No doubt, you'll find companies both making money and losing money that are trying the open source thing. Seek then where their revenues lie and see if the company is gaining most of its revenue from open-sourced projects or if their closed-source business is subsidizing it (as truthfully many firms doing OSS are), or if their revenues come from providing services, etc.

The key is to start finding company case studies, articles on companies, etc. Computerworld or Business Week is a couple of good starts for searching.

Good luck!

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