An open source distribution is a set of open source components configured and put together to work well as one piece of software. A commercial open source distribution is a product that you pay for, and a non-commercial distribution is freely available software. Commercial distributions may be complex products, but not all complex products are distributions.
While a comparatively young industry, the software industry nevertheless has a history, and taking from the playbook of other disciplines, understanding our history is important to understanding our future. So I want to ask:
What (if any) historic periods are there in single-vendor open source firms?
tl;dr The communities that form around community open source are very different from those that form around commercial open source; confuse them at your own risk.
The recent announcement by Elastic to relicense their software away from open source licenses to commercial and source-available licenses only has triggered the debate about rights and expectations of open source communities again (local copy 1, 2, 3).
Legally speaking, I assume that this is fully within Elastic’s rights. I assume they either outright own all copyright to the relicensed code or collected copyrights by way of contributor license agreements from anyone whose code they accepted into their code base.
This 5 min. lightening talk shows how doctoral students can turn their work into a commercial open source startup. Current opportunities for doing so with me are in the open data and open source robotics space.
I just presented 15 min. of my thoughts on the product management challenge of open source and the role of cloud computing at O4B, the European commercial open source forum. You can watch the video below (local video copy, slide download).
I also make few remarks on the public funding ecosystem for high-tech startups in Germany (hint: it is fabulous). More on this later.
I’m glad to report that we will have a new open source conference in Europe, focused on commercial open source. I’ll be a speaker and panelist and helped initiate the event. It is not the first of its kind, but I’m very happy that we have a new one with hopefully more staying power than previous attempts.
Abstract: This article present a particular business model for commercial open source firms, called the single-vendor open source model. This model has long dominated venture capital funding for open source software firms, contributing to the long-term sustainability of open source. As such, it is of high economic relevance. It is also an excellent example to show how open source licensing and related strategies really are just tools in the design of a business model and not philosophies.
When the Open Source Initiative defined open source, it focused only on the license, and ignored the process. Smart entrepreneurs quickly discovered that they could provide to the world their product as open source code and benefit from it, while strictly controllling the process to keep competition at bay. This is called single-vendor open source.
Single-vendor open source is not closed source, not even “the new” closed source. The following 2×2 matrix illustrates the distinction between license and process:
In this talk, I explain the single-vendor open source business model (also: multi-licensing, open core) and in particular its intellectual property strategies. This is the slide deck of a previously posted video.