Floss firms, users and communities: a viable match?

Par Nicolas Jullien, Jean-Benoît Zimmermann


The participation of firms in Free/Libre/Open Source Software (FLOSS) communities is growing and is increasingly debated among scholars. As Ousterhout (1999) explained, “FLOSS needs profit” and we do not know of any successful FLOSS products without firms in their ecosystem, either through the financial support of foundations (Eclipse, Linux) or the commercial supply of products or services (MySQL, Red Hat Linux). Various views of these phenomena have been proposed, but scholars have usually studied either the involvement of firms in a community or the integration of FLOSS into their market strategy, but not both. In this article, we argue for a more structured and global analysis, based on concepts of industrial economics, and thus starting from the basic conditions of the computer market and demand. This conceptual framework helps to distinguish the different roles firms may play in the FLOSS ecosystem and, more specifically, the different ways they are involved in development.
JEL Codes: L11, L15, L22, L86


  • free/libre or open source software
  • industrial economics
  • user skill
  • firms’ roles
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