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A common statement about the value of Free/Libre/Open programs: non-developers can hire developers to update the software (and not be reliant on a single monopoly control over this service).

Does this really happen much? Are there businesses or freelancers who do this? Or is it mostly hypothetical?

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This of course varies from project to project, but yes: there are both businesses and freelancers who do this. But more so for large free software projects, than for small ones.

As an example, look at a Drupal. Drupal is a FLOSS project (requiring all distributed components to be licensed under GPLv2+) that also sustains a large community of individual developers and companies that can help you with adapting and updating any Drupal project.

When I am approached by clients about paid work for Drupal, the client is almost always aware of this, and tell me up front that my company is just one of the service providers they consider. They expect my offer to be competitive compared to other companies that offer Drupal-related services. And if they know what they're doing (not all companies understand this), they require us to distribute what we deliver to them under GPLv2+ - which means that they can kick us out and hire somebody else to work on the software we create for them if they're are dissatisfied with our services.

I also believe that this is the case for very many other free software projects, but my first hand experience is with the Drupal ecosystem.

  • Sure, but Drupal is an upstream project mostly used by the sorts of people who are themselves developers. I'm asking more about the idea of "FLO empowers you as a non-dev end user because you can get someone else to change the software for you" — sure, some non-devs ever use Drupal, but it's not really an end-user product. I understand that it's common for enterprise software to have customization services, but I'm asking about more public-facing stuff. – wolftune Aug 7 '15 at 23:47
  • @wolftune I don't know how familiar you are for the market for Drupal-based services, but for the record: None of our customers are developers. Our typical user is a company or NGO that uses Drupal as their WCMS, and relies on Drupal service providers such as the company I work for to host, configure, adapt, extend, update and maintain their Drupal configuration. – Free Radical Aug 8 '15 at 3:02
  • that makes sense, I understand that institutions use Drupal and may not have dedicated drupal devs internally. It's indeed an interesting and totally valid answer to my question. I'm also interested especially in knowing whether these sorts of things only exist on the enterprise/institutional client scale. – wolftune Aug 9 '15 at 4:37

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