Friday, August 14, 2009

Eclipse Foundation funds my Project

Some discussion has been going on about revenue models for open source projects and their committers. Many good ideas, some whining, and also some misconceptions. One of those was brought to my attention several times just recently by users of CDO and by some of my customers. They seem to believe that

The Eclipse Foundation funds my Project

This is simply not true, neither for my projects, CDO and Net4j, nor for any other Eclipse project. The Foundation's revenue, as well as the donations to the Foundation, are spent in a way that more or less suits all projects equally. Staff must be paid, servers operated, marketing be done, and so on.

All projects are responsible for their own funding. In particular the committers are either employees and paid by their employer (who'd better have a good business model for being able to continue to fund open source development) or so called individual committers, in which case they have to look after themselves for their funding or just do the work for their own gratification.

To make a project successful a great deal of marketing has to be done which often incurs additional costs such as conference fees and travel expenses. I tend to think that the community benefits from these marketing efforts in a similar way as from the usage of open source product itself. The more people are using a product the quicker it will mature to something really great. And the needed funding can be distributed among even more shoulders.

I'm clearly an individual committer and I'm usually working full-time on my two Eclipse projects, for more than five years now. This can and will only continue to work if enough users of the project results realize that nothing is really free:

Open source software is free.

Free like in freedom
but not gratis!

I hope this does not sound too much like whining. It's not intended to be like that. In fact I appreciate that more and more companies that reap benefit and revenue from using open source technologies realize the subtle but essential economic mechanisms that guarantee continuation of their business model. I'd like to take this as a chance to thank my own customers: It has always been fun to spend time with you being incredibly creative and productive to our mutual benefit!


  1. As a fellow individual committer I put more hours into the xml related projects because there are pieces that just need to be done for the betterment of the community as a whole. An individual committer in many ways has a different perspective from a corporate committer, the goals are different and the drive to get something out is different.

    I think you have expressed your thoughts well, and it reflects many of my own.

  2. In my professional life I have hired Eike for 1 day consultancy job on premises. Highly recommended! It definitely feels good to know that Eike spends his earnings to live the life writing open source such as CDO.

    Keep up the steam :)