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Chapter 16: Monetizing Open Source


Opening Quote  

I used to be afraid until I learned about the Litany Against Fear in the science fiction novel Dune by Frank Herbert:

I will not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear. I will let it pass through me.
When the fear has gone, there shall be nothing. Only I will remain.

I recited this litany internally whenever someone tried to bully me in high school. It gave me the courage to look my bully in the face, and even step closer if he threatened me physically. This unexpected move was quite successful in most cases.
For this book, I picked another quote from Dune: "A process cannot be understood by stopping it. Understanding must move with the flow of the process, must join it and flow with it."

Open Source Think Tank

The Open Source Think Tank (OSTT) was an event in Napa Valley with workshops, wine tasting and network dinners. This is us at such a dinner in Castello di Amorosa.
Ingeborg and Bruno at the Open Source Think Tank dinner

Andrew Aitken was one of the people responsible for organizing the OSTT. When he looks at the history of open source software, he distinguishes four generations.

Making Money

While writing the book, I saw a tweet with the text "If you are not intentionally trying to get wealthy, you will end up accidentally poor." I don't know this quote, nor do I know its author, the American financial adviser Rob Wilson, but the quote was a good fit to talk about the need for making money.

Open Source on Stack Exchange

For this chapter, I rewrote a popular answer I posted on Stack Exchange on June 24, 2015.

Book Quotes  

  • I have the impression that most open source code is written in the context of employee contracts nowadays. Potential star developers risk becoming nameless employees now that large corporations have appropriated the FOSS movement.
  • Commercial open source software is the best guarantee for the production of software that is useful, innovative, and of high quality, and at the same time sustainable, accessible, and affordable.
  • Even the most idealistic FOSS developers often sigh: “If I had a dime from every user who benefits from my software, I’d be a millionaire.” In the real world, users are more generous with questions than they are with money.
  • I advise FOSS users to work with technology from a company that ensures further development and long-term support, rather than using free stuff that is merely a side effect of the actual business. FOSS users should always be aware of the business model behind the technology they use.
  • With iText, I created plenty of value for other companies, but that didn't initially translate into value for myself. When the first iText company got off to a false start, “creating value” was a criterion for success in name only. I experienced that “earning money” was of much higher importance if you wanted to be respected as an entrepreneur.


  • On page 213, I wrote "Citius, altius, forties!" but that should be "Citius, altius, fortius!" (typo discovered by myself).

Soundtrack for this Chapter  

I listen to music, but my taste in music is questionable. I've selected a handful of songs for every chapters. Sometimes, there's a link to the chapter, sometimes I just like the song.

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