I've heard it before and I'm sure I'll hear it again: you can't make money writing open source software. Looking at the stats for contributions to popular open source projects, one would have to agree. For example, the developer of Ardour, the popular open source audio editing package, pulls in less than $2,000 a month and has to supplement his income by doing other consulting. It's enough to drive an open source die hard back into the arms of writing proprietary software.
But maybe they're all doing it wrong. Bryan Lunduke, host of The Linux Action Show and owner of Radical Breeze Software, wanted to find out if an open source developer could indeed survive on contributions alone. So he set a goal: if in one week he reached $4,000 in donations, he'd open source ALL of his software. One week later, he's reached $4,001 and is making good on his promise.
This shows that it can be done. Now, granted, $4,000 isn't a lot of money and it would be kind of hard for a developer with a family to survive on but it was done in ONE WEEK and is just a start. Is it sustainable? We'll see. But, for now, the point was proven that it can be done and we're getting some GREAT software put into the open source ecosystem because of the generosity of people like YOU - people who believe in free and open source software. Now, there's no excuse for the rest of us to keep releasing proprietary software.