I have an idea to listen to what the Linux community needs and to create some simple applications for it.

Basically, I would start off with one of the most popular Linux distros at the moment, and create a couple of simple apps that seem to be highly wanted by the community. Once I'd created the software, I would release it for free to the community and allow them to continue their development.

Then, I would create a website where I would share a couple of ideas I have and allow the community to vote for which ideas should I focus on first, and listen to the feedback. I would consider both donations and free votes. Donations would have a higher impact on me of course, so the community could compete with each other to select which idea is needed the most.

Later on, I would expand to other distros and desktop environments and possibly even hire a small team to help me out.

Once I receive my first donations, I would upgrade my equipment (buy a new laptop, upgrade my Internet connection, make some small changes to my work environment) and then I would try to receive monthly donations so I could work full time on those ideas.

I would regularly blog about my ideas, share my progress (possibly even record videos or livestream as I code) and be constantly in contact with my donators.

Am I crazy for thinking that something like this could theoretically work? Am I missing something? If this project fails and I decide to do something else, would this look good on my resume? I mean, I would not really be employed in any company and I would not really consider this as a startup. It's just a quick way to make money and start my career as a software developer. I think that this could be considered more valuable to the potential job recruiters than a normal internship would, but I wanted to hear opinions from more experienced software developers.

  • 1
    I have been a Linux user for the last 15 years and I have NEVER bought any Linux app. Linux users are gathered over "use for free" idea so IMHO I don't think that Linux users are your best aim.
    – Peter MV
    Jun 27, 2015 at 8:43
  • 5
    It's just a quick way to make money Oh no it isn't. Expect years to pass before you are at the point of possibly receiving donations. Your idea sounds well thought out, but naïve. Even if you are able to provide software that no one else is, it could take years to draw the attention of 'the community'. You can't just make some software and a website and expect an automatic following.
    – user45623
    Jun 28, 2015 at 11:14
  • I'm closing this question as off-topic because it is a theoretical question about a potential business plan, and is more about crowdsourcing/FOSS (Free Open Source Software) than Freelancing.
    – Amelia
    Jul 23, 2015 at 8:44

2 Answers 2


First off, remember that Linux is marketed as very robust, open source, and free (with a few exceptions). Can you keep that philosophy?

The reason distributions become popular are for different reasons. Ubuntu became popular because someone was able to make all the decisions, and choose where development happened. Debian is build to be rock solid, but doesn't always have the latest packages in the stable build. Red Hat (and CentOS) are built for businesses, and offer lots of other cool tools.

Now, where would your system come in at, and how would it compete for market share (which you'd need first)? Are you going to build off of Debian so you can claim it's rock solid? Are you going to build off of Ubuntu because you want newer packages running? You need to get people to want to use your new distribution before even thinking of getting money out of them, even in donations.

There are a large number of "developers" who contribute source code to the Linux Project, and you could even help there. You can also pick a distribution and just make your app. Let's start with this, and see where it could take us.

Have you heard of the FOG Project? They're a "Free Open Source Ghost" program, with a DNS and DHCP server built in as well. It has many great features, and many, many companies are using it over the Windows Distribution Services (which costs money). It does one main thing, and it does it quite well: allow an IT person to image many machines, quickly and easily.

Now, how do they make money? They don't have large 500+ member teams working on the stuff, they have a few core developers. They accept donations for the few people working on it, and they seem happy with that. You know what else they do?

During the installation, new versions ask if they can use part of your CPU time to essentially mine bit coins in their name. They give you the option of supporting them, without actually paying them. They started doing that after getting a good customer base going. It doesn't cost my organization any money to contribute that way, and we have 40+ FOG servers deployed (over 40 physical sites, so there's one server at each site). That's like them having access to 40 BC mining machines, without all the extra costs of running one (extra hardware, extra power, etc).

As a customer, I feel this is a great way to keep the project going. I don't program like they do, but I want to see it grow. You will want customers that want to see your product grow. Once people are using your product on an everyday basis, then you can start looking at non-intrusive methods of monetizing. Don't start big, start small, with one well-made, much-sought-after product, and build from there.

  • +1 for Fog Project and the BC mining idea. Great post! Jul 3, 2015 at 8:21
  • Thank you for your great answer! I was not aware of the FOG Project before. Your response has a significant impact on me.
    – r3bl
    Jul 3, 2015 at 15:04
  • If it helped you the most, don't forget to also mark as the answer
    – Canadian Luke
    Jul 3, 2015 at 15:06

As Canadian Cool Hand Luke said, you won't make much money through sales and unless you become very popular, your donations won't be that much either, I'm sorry to say.

I do admire your ambition, your creativity, and your motivation. Keep up that kind of attitude and you will succeed at whatever you end up doing. Maybe not the first time, but as they say, try try again.

Your best bet would be to come up with a product/application you think people will be interested in, then create some mock-ups, maybe a prototype to demo. Create a video explaining it and your vision/mission. Then put it on a crowdfunding site like indiegogo or whatever is popular this minute.

Also, watch CF campaigns that get good donations, try to figure out the formula. Also, keep track of where the project ends up. A lot of times, the project will stall out and be abandoned months (years) down the line and you can just pick up the ball they dropped and run with it. I'm doing this with an app that I watched over 100k go into and 2 or 3 successful CF campaigns and then it just died. Spoke w the head idea man/CEO/Whatever and he said he was done with it, take it and run with it if I want. This idea has already been valuated at over 1 billion by an independent firm. Also, The Woz has expressed interest in this as well and possible meet pending for that. If he gets behind it, it's a done deal, I'm livin laid in the shade, getting paid. So keep up that ambitious drive you have, and think outside the box, grab at every opportunity you can. I think your selling yourself short with the donation thing.

Go for the GOLD!

  • I suspect "CF" needs expanding to "crowd-funding", not sure it is clear. Your post starts off OK, but the last para is rather too focussed on your own plans and conversations/meetings with Important People - whilst I wish you all the luck in the world, I think this could do with toning down a bit!
    – halfer
    Jul 23, 2015 at 10:56

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