Business Models

Business models defined by the SFOSC

These pages include business models for open source.

This section contains an overview of the various open source business models, with examples of companies that use them. We evaluate each in the context of whether it can be used to build a Sustainable Free and Open Source Community, according to the Principles.

While each is taken separately, a given community might have multiple models present inside of it - or even a given company may have multiple models present at the same time.


No business model


Software is available under an open source license, and support is provided for a fee.

Tight Open Core

Software has primary functionality covered under an open source license (the core) but has direct (often critical) features that are only available under a proprietary license.

As a Service

The As a Service model is for software released under an open source license, and available as a service by the company.


When a system of donations is set up to sustain a project.

Dual Licensing

The software is released under an open source license, but has a single entity with full control of the software's copyright.

Free Software Island

A project (usually enabled by a foundation) where everyone agrees that the software is created purely for the public good.

Free Software Product

Has 100% of the software covered by an open source license, but distributes the software as a supported product under a proprietary license.

Loose Open Core

Primary functionality is covered under an open source license (the core), and proprietary software is wrapped around it.

Last modified September 14, 2019: Typo: wether > whether (#139) (9cd015e)