How profitable is Linux ?

Linux marketshare is less than 4%, plus linux users are pinkohippies who expect to have everything for free, so is it profitable to develop apps for linux ?

Pinkohippies??? Wow! I always knew that Mac users had a certain defined persona, and Windows users as well had a defined persona of their own … but now, I learn here that if I see a bunch of “long-haired communists” (which is what “pinkohippies” would literally translate to over here) running around, they must be Linux users??? Why, I had no idea! ^^

As a retired Army combat veteran, I assure you I’m not a pinkohippie and I am a Linux user.

To address your question from a business perspective, I believe this is comparable to asking if it is profitable developing for Andrioid verses iOS. It is my understanding Android users are less likely to pay for apps. Basically it will depend on your app. Does it fill a niche? Is it worth paying for? Most of the apps I run on my Linux box are free though I have paid for a few of them. Nero used to have a CD burning program I actually bought. Even though there are excellent free options out there, the reason I paid for it was I wanted to encourage more development on Linux. I also paid for the Fluendo Oneplay player for the same reason.


Linux has been THE gold standard for web servers, and has pretty much killed all competition as Cloud Storage server OS as well. Heck, even Microsoft is turning to Linux on its servers, and develops for Linux! I have a hard time imagining MS executives as “pinkohippies”

The real question is can anyone make money with software? The answer to the question is that software is a product. To succeed, a product needs to address a need and do so better than competing solutions, some of which may actually not be software-based at all. Therefore, one can make money developing software for any platform, provided that proper market analysis, opportunity cost, competitive analysis (etc.) is done prior to dedicating development resources to the project. Step one is always to identify a need and imagine an innovative solution that addresses the need better than any other solution. Me too solutions seldom succeed, unless they are backed by top tier marketing machines.

For what it’s worth, I paid for software on my Android device. The software I purchased meet needs that I have, better than free competitive products. My point here is that one will pay for software that actually provides value for the money. Money has never, does not, and will not come to developers for free. Unless one is very lucky and hits the sweet spot by accident… which does not happen very often. There are benevolent users who want to pay, but they are not legion. Most users will pay for something that they really need or something that helps them save time or effort better than other solutions.

Yes - there is definitely a commercial opportunity in Linux.

Our BRU product was the FIRST commercial app for Linux back in 1993. This was under Linux version 0.99pl12 when you had to use archie and gopher via uucp to pull the bits from Linus’ account at funet. Our first dev system was a 4MB IBM PS/2 model 30 and I built our first Linux boot floppy off of a Motorola Tower Unix system.

Even with lower $299 pricing (our Cray version sold for $3,499), donated copies, open source wars, and competition, we’ve continued to be profitable with our commercial solutions for Linux.

Xojo / REALStudio / REALbasic has been a primary tool for GUI development on top of our C / Python / Java backend components since 2004.

It’s all about how you promote yourself in the Linux world. We supported Red Hat’s efforts back when it was still the ACC Bookstore Linux. We supported TAMU, TSX-11, CraftWorks, Slackware, Yggdrasil, Yellow Dog, Caldera, and many other early distributions. We were founding members of Linux International, sponsored the early Linux trade shows, created and chaired standards committees, drove the integration of many POSIX components within the Linux environment, and many other social connection tasks.

Understanding that those times are past for many of these types of opportunities, you can still get involved with the remaining Linux social channels such as,, and others to represent what you’re bringing to the Linux world without “bash-you-over-the-head” marketing while letting the Linux community know what you’re offering.