Lately I’ve taken to listening to lots of those podcasts, interviews, and tech talks. It started when I started watching/listening to Google talks more often. I linked one in my earlier posts about CSP and since have watched a whole slew of them.
My latest ones I’ve been listening to is Mixergy interviews. The ones I care about and listen to are about folks that start a business from open source software, and/or how popular websites have come into existence.
Lots of my ideas and projects fall by the wayside but these interviews have had me thinking about if any of those projects would be viable to start a business from. I think to be able to make money from a project that you really enjoy and get to work on it all day is great.
The biggest problem with trying to make money from these things is multifaceted. I love open source and writing code I can’t share sucks but it is what sustains me right now so I can’t knock it too much. But any code that I would be passionate enough to want to turn into a business I would have to either dual license (free for personal, pay for commercial) which in a lot of cases wouldn’t work (little to no commercial interest) or need a pay for service portion (which could also be free personal/pay commercial)
The dual license option is moderately common but lots of my projects and libraries I create are for my own enjoyment and I can’t see folks paying to include code in their commercial product, nor can I see many ways to do things as a service while maintaining a full open source product other than maybe commercial tech support like some Linux distros use, again that would require lots of commercial interests to be viable though.
The other options I have is that I could write closed source code for companies using my open source libraries. That way I could build a framework, set of libraries, and/or tools to manage and write the end application (be it web or otherwise). This way a good portion of the reusable stuff is open source and available to the community but I could still make money by writing software using it.
I can do that with my current job to an extent, if I want a tool I can code it up at home, make a release of it, and then use it at work and see if the boss is cool with me spending company time on any other changes/bug fixes it needs. Should it prove useful enough I could see him easily approving that.
In closing, I hope to someday have my own business, maybe I will focus on that a bit in college, but for now, I am pretty happy with being able to code all day for money, even if the majority of the code is not open source.