A related approach, and the one that Sun seems to be following, is to retain explicit control of your open-source intellectual property. Sun is doing this with licenses such as the CDDL (Common Development and Distribution License) while freeing up its software for customer use and development. As Sun President Jonathan Schwartz explained to critics, "Its like saying Google shouldnt be free or they wont be able to make money.Click here to read more from Schwartz on open source. No, the question isnt: "How can anyone possibly make money from free software?" Its: "Which business model makes the most sense for me?" Having said all that, let me point out that none of these business plans is simple. Far too many people cant get past the easier models of direct sales or play-and-pay shareware-style licensing. To be blunt, if you want to profit from open source, you need to be more business-savvy than you would in other businesses. But if you one of these models and make it fly, you can certainly make your living, your first million, heck, maybe even your first billion, from free software. Good luck. eWEEK.com Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.
"In fact, the more people taking advantage of Googles free service, the more attractive their business model. Same with usthe more users there are, the more opportunity there is for service contracts, systems sales, JES [Java Enterprise System] licenses, storage and hooking into our grid."