Some Tips For Monetizing Work In Open Source

Free and open-source software (FOSS) doesn’t have to be entirely separate from the concept of bringing in money, but the path to monetizing is maybe less clear than it could be. To help address this, [Drew DeVault] has shared some concise thoughts on different ways to monetize FOSS work and projects. [Drew] observes that monetizing one’s own projects is one approach, but that it is entirely possible, and less difficult, to make money by participating in open source work in a more general sense.

There are companies and organizations out there who may make their money otherwise, but are nevertheless involved in or reliant upon open source software for running their business. Such companies are a good starting point for anyone looking to work in FOSS, and [Drew] shares a clever tip for finding them: use git to clone the software repositories of large projects that are of interest to you, then run this command:

git log -n100000 --format="%ae" | cut -d@ -f2 | sort | uniq -c | sort -nr | less

This will extract the domain names from the last 100,000 commits to the repository in question; a good set of leads to companies and organizations that are invested enough in FOSS to contribute, and who may be willing to pay for such work.

There is also the option of monetizing one’s own projects, which [Drew] says is the more difficult approach. He shares tips on monetization options, but cautions that fundamentally one is building a business when going this route. One should therefore be prepared to face the attendant non-software-related problems in the process.

[Drew] runs SourceHut and works entirely in FOSS, but still makes time for fun hacks like using this old line printer to emulate the experience of working on a teletype, which is how it was done when terminal output went to paper, instead of a CRT monitor.