Business Models and Strategies for Open Source Projects

We would like to answer three questions

How have many large community-run open source ventures evolved from experimental undertakings into long-standing economically sustainable projects?

Why have major commercial enterprises increasingly engaged in the development of open source systems and how such decisions meet their business goals?

How to design an economically effective business model and a sustainable development strategy for an open source product or service in a given industry segment?

By shedding light on the raised issues, this book aims to offer a starting point both for individual entrepreneurs venturing into innovative projects, and for already established organizations willing to consider the open collaborative paradigm for a new product or service, by covering related areas such as innovation, intellectual rights, licensing, methodologies, business models and community fostering.


Since its emergence in the mid-80s through the protagonism of Free Software and Open Source movements, the concept of freely shareable technology has steadily established itself in the following decades to enter the 21st century as a leading industrial paradigm. From the original ambit of software technology, the principles of collaborative construction of publicly accessible knowledge grounding the open source paradigm have been extended to embrace any intellectual artifact made available under non-exclusive rights of utilization, development, and distribution. In a comprehensive definition, the notion of Free / Open Source Systems (FOSS) applies to all creations of technological, educational, artistic, or other nature, including computer programs, hardware design, artwork, scientific data, and other intellectual artifacts.

It is noteworthy, however, that while on the one hand, it is not difficult to enumerate advantages of the use of open source products by individuals and organizations — whether related to cost reduction, socio-technological inclusion, governance of technology development, security and privacy transparency, among others — on the other hand, it is not as immediate to identify their motivation to develop open source technology. While there may surely be initiatives driven by either ethical grounds, personal avocation, or public policies, those reasons alone do not explain the lasting success of many large community-driven projects, nor why large commercial enterprises have been massively investing in open source development. 

This Book will address those questions. Exploring case studies, the investigation aims at understanding the rationales and strategies underlying those companies’ decisions to produce and release open-source products and which business models have succeeded.

The objective of the book

Successful experiences of FOSS have been around for over three decades, along which examples evolved from enthusiasts’ inner cycles to enter the agenda of the mainstream industry. Nonetheless, when considering the option of delivering a given innovation product under an open-source license, a preeminent question is how to figure out a suitable business strategy that is profitable and sustainable. 

For instance, while FOSS has remarkably succeeded in application areas such as embedded systems, Internet servers, database systems, and microservice architectures — with notable examples such as GNU/Linux, Arduino, MySQL, Apache, Docker, Python, Mozilla, to name a few — the same is not the case of other relevant fields as, e.g., computer game industry, a segment prominently dominated by proprietary technology. 

What business models might apply to leverage the open source industry in areas where no FOSS alternative is equivalent to proprietary world-class solutions? What referential frameworks are available to guide the development of an enterprise open source strategy, and how to design an appropriate open source business model for a particular product or service segment?

Target audience

Calling forth the knowledge of experienced authors, the material is expected to be a state-or-art reference for researchers and practitioners involved in the development or the management of open-source projects, as well as decision-makers considering the appropriate strategy to design open-source business models for their products and services. We wish that this Book lends itself as a valuable resource to researchers and students investigating the foundations of the open source model and its economic, social, technological, and ethical implications.

More than “why use FOSS”, this book is about “why create FOSS”, and it is targeted towards both academic researchers and industrial practitioners.

Recommended topics include, but are not limited to, the following

  • foundations of the FOSS paradigm as a strategy for technological innovation
  • cases of successful FOSS commercial products and business models
  • cases of failed FOSS commercial plans and lessons learned
  • challenging segments for FOSS and approaches to leverage development 
  • fostering of FOSS contributor communities and newcomers support
  • decision making and conflict resolution in large FOSS projects
  • intellectual property threats to FOSS business models and mitigation
  • trust building and sense of community vs. corporate culture status quo
  • misleading alleged FOSS models and harmful business practices
  • opportunities of FOSS for startups and entrepreneurs
  • the role of ethics of freedom and privacy in the FOSS model
  • threats to the development of the FOSS industry
  • understanding FOSS ecosystems and digital commons
  • considerations about licenses and their role in FOSS strategies


Dr. Monaco F. J., Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering, is a professor in the Department of Computer Systems at ICMC, University of São Paulo, where his research interests lie in Computational Modeling and Simulation, with major topics of investigation, including evolutionary multi-objective optimization and unsupervised machine learning. He has authored several scientific articles, served on conferences and journal technical committees, and taken part in national and international research projects. Dr. Monaco also teaches System Software programming at the undergraduate and graduate levels. In the field of Open Source, Dr. Monaco has served on the steering board of the USP Open Source Competence Center for over a decade. He was a member of the Support Center for Free Open Source Software Research (2004-2006), and took part as a researcher in the EU-founded project Quality Platform for Open Source. He is the creator and currently responsible for the course on Open Source Systems taught to students of Computer Sciences and Engineering at USP

Editorial Board

  • Dr. Elisa Yumi Nakagawa, professor at University of São Paulo, Director of CCOS-ICMC FLOSS Ressarch Center, Brazil
  • Dr. Renê de Souza Pinto, operating system & embedded system engineer at OpenSynergy GmbH, Germany
  • Celso Providelo, former Launchpad engineer at Canonical Ltd, CEO of Stoq Tecnologia, Brazil
  • (to be updated)


This book is scheduled to be published by IGI Global (formerly Idea Group Inc.), an international academic publisher of the “Information Science Reference” (formerly Idea Group Reference), “Medical Information Science Reference,” “Business Science Reference,” and “Engineering Science Reference” imprints. IGI Global specializes in publishing reference books, scholarly journals, and electronic databases featuring academic research on a variety of innovative topic areas including, but not limited to, education, social science, medicine and healthcare, business and management, information science and technology, engineering, public administration, library and information science, media and communication studies, and environmental science. For additional information regarding the publisher, please visit https://www.igi-global.com. This publication is anticipated to be released in 2023.


Researchers and practitioners are invited to submit a chapter proposal of one paragraph or two briefly explaining the mission and concerns of their proposed chapter. Accepted proposals are expected to be extended into full chapters and submitted by the due dates (see below). Submitted chapters will be blind-reviewed. There are no submission or acceptance fees for manuscripts submitted to this book publication.

All proposals should be submitted through the eEditorial Discovery® online submission manager using this link. For instructions on manuscript preparation , please visit the publisher’s website.

Please, also see this note about the submission format.

Important dates

Updated information:

January 09, 2023: Proposal Submission Deadline.
January 12, 2023: Notification of Acceptance.
February 06, 2023: Full Chapter Submission

Should you have any special needs concerning dates, please let us know.


Dr. Monaco F. J.

University of São Paulo
Department of Computer Systems
CCOS – FOSS Education and Resource Center

Note about the submission format:
The book is being organized under the framework of a scientific research program and will be released by an international academic publisher whose editorial workflow requires authors to submit the material in DOCX format. It is possible to meet the requirements using any text processor capable of exporting the open ISO/IEC 29500:2008 format. A list of software tools offering such functionality is accessible through this link. In any case, the editorial team will be available to work with authors, should any assistance be needed.