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  • Akmod

Open Source Licensing and Your Revenue Stream

Open-source projects are engines of creativity and collaboration. Their success is often rooted in the choice of license. The Apache 2 License has emerged as a standout option, especially for extendable projects like Salt and Idem. Let's explore its virtues and how it intertwines with the philosophy of open source -- and how to do more than just keep the lights on -- how to keep your open source project thriving.

The Apache 2 License - Powering Extensibility

The Apache 2 License is a guiding star in the open-source world. Its principles of collaboration, legal protection, flexibility, and ease of integration and distribution set the stage for thriving development.

For pluggable projects like Salt and Idem, the Apache 2 License offers particular advantages. Idem, as the largest open-source cloud infrastructure management tool, exemplifies the power of this license.

  1. Encouraging Extensions: Anyone can create a Salt extension or an Idem plugin and publish it on PyPi, expanding the project's reach and application.

  2. Facilitating Business Use Cases: These extensions allow businesses to tailor the tools to their unique needs, without tampering with the core code.

  3. Democratizing Development: The license empowers all contributors, from individual developers to corporations, to write extensions, fostering an environment of innovation and growth.

These benefits highlight why the Apache 2 License is a wise choice for projects aiming for broad extensibility and adaptability.

The Necessity of Connecting to Revenue Streams

The philosopher Immanuel Kant once argued that one should do good for goodness' sake. Yet in the world of open source, goodness alone may not sustain a project.

Consider the story of OpenSSH's maintainer. His plea for donations in 2017 to continue his full-time work on OpenSSH, a widely-used secure network communication tool, struck a chord with many. He needed a mere $2,000 per month to keep going. Can you believe it? *Everyone* uses SSH and that's all he was asking to keep the project afloat.

Our takeaway is that it's not just about the money. It's about recognizing that open-source contributors and users aren't your customers; your project must directly power a product. It is important to connect revenue streams to your open-source project. Idem, for example, is baked into VMWare products like vRealize Automation -- ensuring its future sustainability and maintainability.


The Apache 2 License stands as a robust foundation for open-source projects, especially those that aim to be pluggable and easily extendable like Salt and Idem. Its principles align with the very essence of collaboration and adaptability.

Yet, as Kant's philosophy reminds us, doing good for goodness' sake isn't always practical. The sustainability of open-source projects requires a conscious alignment with revenue streams. An Apache2 license connected to a revenue stream strikes the ideal balance between the open-source and business worlds.

The union of thoughtful licensing like Apache 2 and a strategic revenue model is more than a good business decision; it's an ethical imperative that ensures the flourishing future of open-source innovation.


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