The popularity of Linux has skyrocketed and companies dealing with Linux products/distros are making a lot of money from it. Even though Linux is synonymous with open-source, that concept is eventually moving out of the picture.
While many people believe that Linux distros shouldn’t come with a price, considering the user base and the efficiency it brings, charging money for Linux distro actually makes sense even though many Linux distros come with a user donation option.
In this article, we shall look at the top reasons why Linux distro should come at a price.
For The Support They Provide
When it comes to supporting Linux, many would argue that the community is so massive and active that issues can be sorted out through forums. However, that is not true all the time. There are Linux that needs support for the company that creates it and one such example is Red Hat Linux, which was also called as the Red Hat Commercial Linux.
One might ask that if Red Hat Linux is Open-Source under the General Public License (GPL) then why does the company charge money. To make it clear, the company doesn’t charge for the distribution — it is completely free; rather, it charges for the support and packaging.
Red Hat Enterprise Linux plays a vital role as the core of many of Red Hat's offerings. It helps organisations’ software with automation, cloud, containers, middleware, storage, application development etc. And timely support is required to keep the work going smoothly.
To Make Better Versions
Donations have been a significant part and the sole source of income for companies developing open-source software and Linux distributions. However, with the skyrocketing expectations of users and with other OS posing tough competition, donations aren’t enough to meet the expanding needs of the user-base.
As advancements continue to happen, and with the growing user base, the need for more servers is also increasing for building applications and serving those downloads and updates. And it requires some significant amount of money to maintain the infrastructure.
Developing a Linux distro or an open-source and giving it out for free to the world is not the only job of a company. There is a dedicated team of developers that works on a daily basis to keep the distribution working with all the latest updates and applications. And obviously, the donations won’t be enough to maintain a payroll for the full-time employees working in the open-source or Linux distribution companies.
For example, why would a developer work for a Linux distro where the revenue solely relies on the donations from the user base? While the same developer can make more money by developing apps for the AppCenter.
When a user base starts getting along well with open-source software by a company, they start expecting the company to come with other products as well. However, that is not an easy job to be done. When a company that develops open-source or Linux distribution, they are most of the time focused on only one product. Being a company that lacks a strong revenue model, they don’t risk it by getting their hands on with other products as it would require capital to get things done and donations wouldn’t be enough.
It’s Better Than A Lot Of Other Operating System
There is no doubt that most of the Linux distros are much better than a lot of paid operating systems. And the best part is they come for free. However, things are changing with time as many Linux distro developing companies have started playing the “Donation Vs Pay” game and it actually worth it. Why not pay for something that comes with so much of impressive features —whether it’s about customising your distro (open-source nature) or security or capability of reviving older computers etc.
While people are paying thousands of rupees for Windows or any other paid OS, paying a little amount for a Linux Distro also makes a lot of sense.
A Strategic Move By Elementary OS
Elementary OS is one such company that has played it strategically to give its revenue a significant boost. Just like every other Linux distro, even Elementary OS was relying on donations. It wanted to make the OS commercial, but it would later create a dispute with the FOSS.
Rather, the company has made a slight change in its “Donation” button. Now, the button read “Purchase Elementary OS”. However, it just the reframing of a line — users still have the choice to download to the OS without paying a single penny as the price floor is still zero. But this small change has taken the company’s cash flow to 10x.
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