Subject: Re: Development Shop FSB
From: Ian Lance Taylor <ian@airs.com>
Date: 11 Mar 2002 22:09:21 -0800

Nick Jennings <nick@namodn.com> writes:

>  Within the confines of the GPL, in an FSB, there seems to be no
>  legitimate way to get paid directly for being a developer of
>  open-source products. This is very disconcerting to me, for
>  what is an FSB if their money source is not generated from free-software?

Look at the list archives.  Cygnus, for example, got paid directly,
and well, to write GPL software.  Presumably at least some of that
lives on within Red Hat.

>  It seems most, if not all, FSBs don't actually make their money
>  from their development projects, but rather from providing services
>  for these products, or contracting/infrastructure rollout/support
>  contracts etc. 
>  
>  Is this *really* an FSB at this point? Or is the development merely
>  there because the original goal of the company was to somehow
>  make money to subsidize writing free software.

I dunno, it seems to me that if you don't have the software, you can't
sell the services associated with that software.

In general these are questions which have been heavily discussed on
this list in the past.  I'm not going to claim that there are answers
for all questions in all situations.  But there are FSBs today, and
there are people earning money from free software today.  It's not
nearly as easy as you might think from reading ESR.  But it's not
impossible either.

If you want to start an FSB yourself, focus on the business problem
which you will solve, and don't try to solve business problems which
can not be solved profitably using free software.  Don't focus on the
idea of doing free software development.  In fact, the equivalent
advice would apply if you wanted to start a proprietary software
business.

Ian