Subject: Re: Looking for open source support examples
From: Laurent GUERBY <laurent@guerby.net>
Date: Fri, 25 Mar 2005 08:31:51 +0100

On Thu, 2005-03-24 at 21:27 -0800, DV Henkel-Wallace wrote:
> On 24 Mar 2005, at 20:36, Lajos Moczar wrote:
> > I'm getting at the issue of whether, out of the ranks 
> > of free software developers, there is a trend of such organizations 
> > being formed or whether the impetus for the creation of such 
> > organizations always comes from outside the core development teams. My 
> > inkling is that the latter is more true than the former, and that the 
> > movement in general relies on external service providers rather than 
> > internally grown organizations.

It's likely true that having a big client helps pushing the creation of
a project based support company by immediately giving a viable source of
money for a few developpers without having to setup a risk / costly
sales & marketing infrastructure at the start.

But for support companies at large without a specific project, I suspect
they are much more numerous (with more people employed) and much less
visible than project based companies (or based on multiple / smaller and
less globally known projects).

> The Ada guys formed a business (ACT) specifically for their project.  I 
> had thought that OAR had done the same with RTEMS, but perhaps it's the 
> other way around.

RTEMS/OAR was created much the same way as GNAT/AdaCore:
http://www.rtems.com/timeline.html
1988: U.S. Army Missile Command requests royalty free, standards-based
real-time solution with full source
1998: OAR becomes primary distributor of RTEMS

The two main Scribus developpers have started their own support company
(they had separate consulting business):
http://www.scribus.org.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=79

I recently came in touch with french developpers that created a
multimedia creation oriented bootable linux CD with known software and
their own to glue them together (plus create various bootable CD), they
offer multimedia creation courses around their solution
http://lamenagerie.com/ (it's in french). 

http://www.netfilter.org is a bit special, lots of companies have been
using their software without releasing the sources (see linksys for
example), those companies are indirectly providing free software support
via firmware updates :). At least one separate support company started
from their forced GPL source release: http://www.sveasoft.com/ 

See http://gpl-violations.org/ for more stories like the one above, this
illustrate quite well how support for (considered) proprietary software
sucks so much that striving free software support is so much better
as to lead to the creation of a competing and viable support business.

Others to look at:
* http://www.ghostscript.com/
* http://www.zope.com/
* http://plone.org/foundation   (above zope)
* http://www.glyphandcog.com/   (around xpdf)

Hope this helps,

Laurent