Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Open Source and Free Software Movement

  1. Feb 19, 2010 #1
    Hi all,

    I hear all this talk about how open source is awesome and how software should be free and accessible to anyone. While I do enjoy gaining access to free software and whatnot, I can't help but wonder, how do software developers actually make money if the open source thing catches on?

    Likewise, everybody loves a free download of music but from the other perspective, how would artists or producers make money if everything was free?

    Please enlighten me on this.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2010 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    They make money by making modifications to the program or selling technical support services.

    Basically, they make money by working and producing something new rather than using patents to milk every last cent out of something they've already built.
  4. Feb 19, 2010 #3
    A lot of opensource stuff is produced/supported by industry shops that already use it internally. IBM and google are major supporters, as was Sun, and even Microsoft contributed a patch to some project or other. Even Industrial Light and Magic published something. These companies generally win community (software, programmers, the people they need to hire) favor by supporting open source, and the stuff they release/support usually isn't part of their core business model.

    Other companies rely on support, such as RedHat and Canonical. Willowgarage sponsors a major robotics software project because they make robots. University research labs also make up a big batch of opensource developers. Then there are the hobbyists, who make a project 'cause they want/need it for their own thing.
  5. Feb 19, 2010 #4
    I think it is similar to this forum where people voluntarily help others. Open Source Softwares are maintained by a community rather than 1-2 people. OSS seem to be better than the commercial owned ones in few cases.

    As already pointed out, if I need something. I would make a software and put it on some OSS site with my source code. In future some other person would need to do the same thing. S/he would modify my source code, make some improvements, suggest new ideas, find few mistakes in my code etc... so in the end, everyone would be better off.
  6. Feb 19, 2010 #5


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I agree with you. I read "Free as in Freedom" and frankly, I though it was a bunch of hippie crap.


    However, I'll give him props for keeping with his message and releasing his book in the public domain: http://oreilly.com/openbook/freedom/
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Feb 19, 2010 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It's only hippie crap when they talk of extending the "open source" idea beyond software. Software is generally built in layers and mixes and matches components from all over the place and benefits greatly from being able to quickly interchange parts.

    However, something like graphics or music is generally original work that is fairly unique to the person who produced it. It's understandable why they would not be on board with this distribution model. Also unlike software, art made by committee generally gets worse.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook