Here are three points from Tim Bray’s recent post. They very relevant to OSS. (I added the numbers to delineate his points):

[1] Getting started should be free: Also, it shouldn’t take more than a few days.

[2] Some popular tools will be Open Source: Which raises a question: would you rather provide the popular OSS tools, or compete with them?

Now, monetizing OSS is hard. But on the other hand, monetizing software is hard, always has been. And doing it while you’re competing with Open Source is especially hard.

[3] To make money, give things away: Or as this pony-tailed executive I know says: “Monetization at the point of value.”

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who might do business with you, and those who never will. For the second group, you lose nothing by letting them grab your stuff for free.

The first group is more interesting. On one hand you have the risk that they’ll go ahead and use your product or service without ever paying a penny for licensing or support or indemnification or whatever. On the other, there’s the risk that if you make them pay up front, they’ll try something else that is free-to-try and it’ll be good enough.

Very insightful. Give customers something free that is easy to get started with. Wait for the customers who would likely do business with you to follow through with that intent. And hey, if these customers buy commercial licenses, that’s cool. Don’t sweat the customers who will never pay for ‘value’.