State of the Art

Common financial models and the Lsos.

We evaluate models after these values:

  • Transparent: anyone can read the code.
  • Forkable: anyone can modify the code and publish its own version.
  • Accessible: anyone can use the code, no matter how much money at disposal.
  • Sustainable: the project's developers are financially supported.
  • Independent: the project is not influenced by outside interests.

Proprietary Software | Closed Source
Proprietary Software | Public Source
Open Source | Open Core
Open Source | Dual Licensing
Open Source | Company Backed
Open Source | Donations

Proprietary | Closed Source: closed sourced, not forkable, usually expensive. Photoshop, Windows, AutoCAD, etc.

Proprietary | Public Source: same, but the code is available to be read. Unreal Engine, for example, shares knowledge and benefits community patches by making its code public.

Open Source | Open Core: the code is open source but some extensions are proprietary. Such Software can in theory be as expensive as proprietary software but they are usually more accessible. Elasticsearch is a successful example of using the open core model to build a prosperous company.

Open Source | Dual Licensing: the code is available as a "community version" with a free but restrictive copyleft license, and as an "enterprise version" with a permissive but paid commercial license. For example, MongoDB's community version is AGPL-like licensed and prohibits running a SaaS, while the enterprise version allows running a SaaS but is very expensive. This is not particularly forkable: if MongoDB shuts down then the code is stuck with the restrictive license and nobody can take over.

Open Source | Company Backed: large companies are increasingly open sourcing their internal tools. These projects are open source and financed but not independent. React's development, for example, is entirely dependent on Facebook.

Open Source | Donations: some projects — due to their high exposure, high amount of users, and relatively low developing cost — can sustain solely on donations. Usually in web development, for example Webpack or Vue. For most projects donations are not enough.