Open Source: From Community to Commercialization

An interesting talk laying out the path to sustainability and, dare I say, profitability for open source projects by Peter Levine and Jennifer Li.

I tend to interact most with open-source projects following the OSS 0.0 and OSS 1.0 model, where I notice a fair bit of pining about becoming more sustainable. Truthfully, most of these projects are hobbies that happened to gain some traction, so the lack of business acumen can be forgiven. But these same projects and communities also distrust commercial structures. There's a real tension between creating community and software as a “labour of love” and having commercial foresight.

Perhaps, keeping viability in mind (or firmly ruling it out) from the start of a project will be open-source's bitter medicine.1 There’s a parallel between VC funded and aimless growth companies and open-source projects when it comes to business models. As a community, making money shouldn't be a dirty concept;therefore, we ought to encourage opportunities for our favourite communities to flourish going forward.


  1. I'm using a wide brush here. The “web-based” open source communities seem to have no issue with making money where possible but the *nix communities can have visceral reactions to money. 

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