How open source software makes money?

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Open source software is a type of software that is freely available to the public, allowing users to view, modify, and distribute its source code. One common question that arises is how open source software makes money. After all, if the software is freely available, how do the developers and companies behind it generate revenue? In this article, we will explore various ways in which open source software can generate income and sustain its development.

Donations and Sponsorships

Donations: One of the primary ways open source software projects make money is through donations. Users who appreciate the software’s value and want to support its development can contribute financially. These donations can come from individuals, organizations, or even other companies that rely on the software in their own products or services.

Sponsorships: Another avenue for generating revenue is through sponsorships. Companies that benefit from open source software may choose to sponsor its development. This can involve providing financial support, resources, or even employing developers to work on the project full-time. In return, the sponsoring companies gain visibility and recognition within the open source community.

Consulting and Support Services

Consulting: Many open source software projects offer consulting services to users and organizations. These services can include customization, implementation, and integration of the software into existing systems. By providing expertise and guidance, developers and companies can generate income from consulting fees.

Support: Open source software often comes with community-driven support forums or mailing lists where users can seek help. However, some users may require more personalized and dedicated support. Developers and companies can offer premium support services, providing timely assistance and troubleshooting for a fee. This can be particularly appealing to organizations that rely heavily on the software and cannot afford downtime.

Dual Licensing

Dual Licensing: Dual licensing is a strategy employed by some open source software projects to generate revenue. Under this model, the software is made available under both an open source license and a proprietary license. While the open source version remains free, the proprietary license allows companies to use the software in commercial products without having to disclose their own source code. These companies pay a licensing fee for the proprietary version, providing a source of income for the project.

Commercial Add-ons and Extensions

Add-ons and Extensions: Open source software often provides a core set of features and functionality. However, some users may require additional capabilities or specialized tools. Developers and companies can create commercial add-ons or extensions that enhance the software’s functionality. These add-ons are typically sold separately, generating revenue while still leveraging the open source software as a foundation.


Open source software has proven to be a sustainable model for software development, despite being freely available. Through a combination of donations, sponsorships, consulting and support services, dual licensing, and commercial add-ons, developers and companies can generate income while still providing valuable software to the community. This collaborative approach ensures the continued growth and improvement of open source projects.


– Free Software Foundation:
– Open Source Initiative:
– Red Hat:
– MySQL: