Friday, June 29, 2012

How to feed yourself while writing open source software

About a month ago, Bryan Lunduke, a popular blogger and one of the hosts of The Linux Action Show, announced his desire to open source the software he wrote. Lunduke has released several popular software titles including Illumination Software Creator, 2299 The Game, and Linux Tycoon, all of which were released under a proprietary license.

Lunduke's goal was simple: generate at least $4,000 U.S. per month while he readily wrote, updated, and gave away his source code. At first, it seemed like it would work swimmingly. Lunduke met his initial funding goal in only 8 days and, as promised, placed all of his source code on GitHub. But, from there, things started to get iffy.

This week, in a series of posts to his blog, Lunduke announced that donations had fallen sharply and that he was seriously concerned.  He also announced he was making some changes to his model (an experiment, really, so we could have expected changes) to encourage people to donate. One of the most exciting changes in my opinion is his decision to sell the binaries of his software while continuing to give away the source code for free.

Personally, I think it's a brilliant idea and one that every single open source developer should consider as a way to generate continued revenue. It also allows you to live in the best of both worlds: (hopefully) making enough money by selling your software to feed your family while still giving back to the community. If there is an 'open source business model' I think this should be it.

Lunduke is innovating here. He's putting his money (and livelihood) where his mouth is in order to find or establish a solid open source business model. I commend him for it and I think we all should be this brave.

Good luck, Bryan. We're watching and cheering you on. And, hopefully, we're also buying and donating too!

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