When people first hear about Syncleus they always seem to have the same question: “Why Open-Source? How do you make money with an Open-Source business model?” People often recognize the benefits to the community, and perhaps even the progress and advancement of innovation, in this case, mainly towards more intelligent computer programs. But people don’t often talk about the personal or corporate benefit of Open-Source innovations.
Quality Open-Source Software
First, and perhaps the most obvious benefit, is shameless self-promotion. If you write a good library, and people respect it, you are promoting your abilities and building a resume. For both an individual and a corporation this means when you’re approaching another company for work they have more than just a 3 page resume and the glowing recommendation of your best friends at your last jobs. They actually have something substantial that is a demonstration of your work. They can see what you can do, how well you can do it, and if they go so far as to actually look at the source they can see how clean, and well written your work is. This applies as much to hardware design as software of course. In the end, to anyone looking to hire your services, this is a huge selling point.
A Perpetual Advertisement
Almost as important is the fact that it is a form of cheap, perpetual, and impactful advertising. People will use your software, or at least be interested in what it can do and how it is different. If you do a good job, and produce something useful, people will be interested. They will follow you closely, and they will tell their friends. This kind of advertisement is the best you can have because it doesn’t just flash a logo in their face with some pointless slogan; it gets them to look below the surface and really take some time to see what you are up to. They’re also going to tell their friends and get them interested, they may even mention your technologies on Slashdot or Wikipedia. You can’t beat that sort of impactful advertisement, especially when it keeps on working for you after a small initial investment in time.
Open-Source Software Improves Itself
One of the amazing things about Open-Source is that, in addition to everything I already mentioned, it still manages to encourage free contribution to improve and fix the very technologies you are shepherding. As people become interested in your technology, or just plain need to use it, they will find improvements they need, or maybe they find a bug they want fixed. Since it’s Open-Source, that’s easy: they get the source and do it themselves. They are obligated though (through many, but not all, Open-Source licenses) to contribute these modifications under the same license to the public.
The Freedom to Distribute
Finally, its important to mention that the rights over Open-Source software are retained once it has been released. With all licenses, you as the author lose no rights over the software by releasing it; your rights are intact. What you do is grant some restricted rights to everyone else. This means if you as the author want to resell your software to a company as closed source, or choose to enhance it and sell it yourself as a separate product, under any new license, you can. So it’s important to remember that your rights over the source are always retained and nothing is given up, only gained.