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Cover image for Interested in learning more about Commercial Open Source? There’s a Forem for that.
Ben Halpern for The DEV Team

Posted on • Updated on

Interested in learning more about Commercial Open Source? There’s a Forem for that.

DEV is an instance of Forem: open source community software that we distribute to anyone who wants to build a similar space. We run Forems like CodeNewbie and ourselves, and others use it for spaces like Wasm Builders and MetaPunk.

GitHub logo forem / forem

For empowering community 🌱

Forem is also the name of our company. We distribute our code for free and we charge our early partners for hosting Forem as our core longterm business model. We consider this a strong, value-add way to model a company. There are brand new commercial open source companies starting all the time with public companies like Elastic, MongoDB, GitLab, etc. blazing the trail.

If you are interested in going deeper into the world of commercial open source, or perhaps starting your own company that operates in this fashion, I want to highlight a space to explore further:

>> Click here to explore COSS Community: A Forem Devoted to Commercial Open Source.

COSS Community is operated by OSS Capital, which is one of the early backers of Forem. The main pulse of content right now is a weekly newsletter — but anyone is now welcome to take part as a reader or author.

If you really want to keep up with this world, COSS Community is the way.

👉 Explore top posts so far on COSS Community

One last thing. You’ll notice "Sign up with Forem" as an option alongside GitHub and email. This is a service we now offer to most seamlessly navigate the ecosystem and manage your identity. We want you to be able to bring your full self without having to bring your full data, so making this distributed ecosystem as straightforward as possible in the long run is really important. Create a Forem account and connect it with your DEV account via your settings. 🙂

Happy coding!

Top comments (6)

liviufromendtest profile image
Liviu Lupei

Some companies like to call it a Community Backed Up by a For-Profit Business.
But it's also fair to call it a For-Profit Business Backed Up by a Community.

I really like what Forem and are doing.

But it's a shame that some companies use this business model as a honeypot.

Situations I've witnessed:

  1. I was working in a company building a private cloud for a foreign government.
    And they wanted to have all sorts of offerings in that private cloud (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS).
    They wanted those offerings to be based on open-source software.
    At some point, they were looking for a CRM solution, so they googled "open-source CRM" and landed on a company's website and wrote them a message.
    That company immediately flew in 3 Sales Reps, and I was in that meeting.
    One of the first things they said was "Our Community edition isn't really updated, you'll want to have the Enterprise option.", which was something like $150k per year.
    Obviously, they didn't make a sale.
    But that company was literally using "open source" and "community" as buzzwords, as a honeypot.

  2. Developer decides to use some open-source solution.
    Doesn't check the website to see all the details.
    At some point, he had to provide his email address.
    Sales Reps from that company get in touch with the Execs from the Developer's company, and intentionally keep the Developer out of the conversations.
    They end up charging the company a huge amount, because the open-source solution itself wasn't enough, and it was already too deep in the codebase of the company. It required certain additional services to run at a production level.
    The Developer's company had enough resources, that wasn't an issue, they didn't care too much.
    But the Developer was never included in the discussions, he still thinks that the solution is completely free and probably built by "some cool dudes" instead of a sneaky for-profit corporation.

I wish developers would learn to spot these things, just because it says "npm install" or "community", doesn't mean there's an actual community behind it.

And yes, it's perfectly fine for a for-profit corporation to offer both open-source and paid solutions. But it's unethical to use that honeypot approach.


dinerdas profile image
Diner Das

✅ signed up

warwait profile image
Parker Waiters

Ohh thank you for this.

algot profile image

What would you use as a license if you have an open source project but wish to set commercial rules (e.g. require permission/agreement from author to use in commercial project)?

garrett profile image
Garrett / G66

When i first discovered NextCloud and saw their business model I thought “this is the future of SaaS” and I’m glad to see so many more companies following suit.

camco profile image

Signed up!