eli5: How do Open Source/Linux companies make money?

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Maybe more specifically, how can I use Ubuntu “for free”, how can Ubuntu afford to just offer up the OS for nothing? Is it really just all donations from nice people?

In: Technology

8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Red Hat sells training certification and support contracts.  I am not aware that there is such a thing as SuSE or Ubuntu certified professionals, so these two may have most of the revenue from support contracts.

Anonymous 0 Comments

They usually sell paid support to corporations, and also take donations.

“OS for nothing” is for you to play with. But if something breaks there, who do you call?

Anonymous 0 Comments

Consultancy. At the end, who better to support your critical Ubuntu servers than the company making Ubuntu

Canonical or Red Hat makes money from big and very big companies, they don’t care that much about common Joe using it free or forking it. In fact, being open source is a big benefit for them as other companies and people will be able to help reviewing code, fixing and creating new software and drivers. A lot of the Ubuntu and RHEL shipped software comes from other sources, sometimes even one from each other (Red Hat code into Ubuntu and viceversa)

In fact, Microsoft nowadays makes it easier than ever to use Windows for almost free (reused licenses) or without license no problem. They also don’t enforce that heavily measures to avoid 3rd party activators. Why? Because they not only benefit from you using their OS (as they now bundle apps and on the future ads, ads inside Edge and so on), but they make their big money on companies, not on the common Joe

Companies are subject to surprise Microsoft visits and if they catch the company using Windows without license, they will sue and penalties to that company. Compare that kind of effort to the “let’s make difficult for the common Joe to use different methods than to buy our official 100-200$ licenses”

Anonymous 0 Comments

Ubuntu is marketed by Canonical, they make 140 million in revenue selling commercial support. Also, Canonical did not write most of Ubuntu, they couldn’t sell Ubuntu if they wanted to as most of it isn’t licensed under conditions that would make it a viable business strategy. It’s a GNU/Linux distribution, extremely large amount of developers have contributed their work towards various pieces of involved software, each with their own separate motivations.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Paid support. Companies that use it for their key infrastructure can’t afford to use unsupported software in production.

If something breaks they want people who they can call, who will fix it for them, because they are losing millions of dollars while it’s not working.

Canonical (Ubuntu) offers 24/7 paid tech support. Same for other enterprise providers.

Support also includes stuff like ensuring compatibility with their weird hardware or software.

Priority on bug fixes and features.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Ive been messing with linux systems for years and immediately found value in it when I started my business a couple years ago. I used to service all the software, hardware issues myself to varying degrees of success but now here I am 20 cpus and a couple servers later. Guess who I’m about to start paying?

Anonymous 0 Comments

It’s like a cheap printer where you pay less for the printer than it is worth, but more for the ink than it is worth. Once they’ve got you hooked on the OS you will be more likely to call them for help when you need to do something quick, especially if you are a business or scientific institution. Still a lot cheaper than Microsoft or Apple products, but when you need an update to support a new printer or something somebody has to support it somehow.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are certain premium options (for Ubuntu it’s more aggressive auto security updates and support) which they charge more. They also will charge companies which want to embed Ubuntu within their product (for example, a hardware device runs Linux for a security system).