I am wondering what the different revenue sources for open source projects developers are.

More precisely, can one live by working only on one or more open source projects?

Edit : For those interested on the topic I have stumbled on very interesting articles on the topic :

They do not answer completely my question but are a good basis for discussion

Edit 2 : It seems indeed that this post has very well documented answers.

  • Retirement pension, in my case. I don't derive any income from my open source work. Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 19:21
  • That would be an option indeed ! What about developers that still didn't reach retirement ?
    – mhham
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 22:22
  • EOS operating system is commercial product which is linux kernel derivative. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 0:55
  • Like Glenn said (or implied), don't expect to make any money, much less enough to live on, from open source. Maybe there exist some people who do, but by the same token there exist some people who win the lottery. If you want to make money as an independent developer, and actually have a terrific, terrific idea that you're capable of implementing, then don't open source it in the first place. Sell/license it outright. That's how money gets made. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


Three ways would be

  • Support - Some users may need support. Could be installation, hire you to design the deployment, disaster recovery methods other things that may come up, administer their deployment.

  • Custom development - Could be that the companies needs a specific feature. I've seen bounty/sponsorship for feature requests in the past. They company need reports or some other thing that the software doesn't do, but that you could implement for them.

  • Work at a company that needs the software and allows you to develop it

  • Thank you for your answer ! Could you be a little bit more specific about the meaning of support and custom development ?
    – mhham
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 22:19
  • @mhham, I updated my answer
    – rovr138
    Commented Mar 11, 2017 at 22:29
  • I've tried the "custom development" approach twice, both times I was approached by the client. Each time it was a two-week effort which I completed successfully on time. One client turned out to be a scoundrel who did not pay anything, so I'm batting .500; that was 10 years ago and I haven't tried again. Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 18:52
  • I have a friend, he's a contributor on a project. He works for a few months on contracts for big companies tuning, integrating, doing some custom dev for this software. The rest of the time he works on his own time developing the software and just traveling. It's possible. I met him on one of his projects. It's possible, but he only deals with big companies.
    – rovr138
    Commented Mar 12, 2017 at 19:03
  • @rovr138 It's good to know that it is indeed possible !
    – mhham
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 9:01

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