3 Ways to Make Money Selling Linux Apps! Strategies Analyzed..!!

This article is focussed on individual developers who want to create an application by themselves (a one-person team) and sell it to make some money on the Linux world.

There are 2 types of people who are interested in this question

  1. You are a Linux user and you have an awesome idea for an application and you are wondering if you can sell it once it’s done and make some money from it.
  2. You have just heard of a lot of people making so much money in Android and iOS and you are wondering whether the same is possible in the Linux arena

No matter which category you belong to, this article is for you! Let’s analyze the Linux application arena and see if it is possible to achieve similar results as our fellow developers in the Android and iOS world have achieved.

The Short Answer

The short answer for this question is you can make money through apps in the Linux world via these 3 options

  • Option#1: Make cloud-based apps
  • Option#2: Make GUI apps
  • Option#3: Make the best app in your sector!

Using one of the above 3 options you can certainly make money in the Linux world. Now that we have seen the short version of the answer, let’s go ahead and see some ideas on how to actually put the above 3 plans to good use in the rest of this article.

If you are interested in a particular option, I suggest you to use the “Table of contents” below to jump to it!

So let’s begin!

In general, how does the Linux world makes money?

We have already seen in a similar article of how the big guys like RHEL and Google make money using open-source Linux.

How Do Linux Distros Make Money? Strategies Explained!

Also in another article, we have seen if a plan to make and sell a Linux distro feasible.

Can You Make A Linux Distro And Sell It? An Analysis!

If you haven’t already, I suggest reading the above 2 articles, I am sure you will find them quite interesting!

In that article, I have briefly mentioned that it is a good idea for individual developers to focus on making Linux apps rather than making an entire distro.

Let me expand on that idea a bit further and give you some strategies you can use to actually make money making Linux apps!

Let’s take a look at some types of applications that have made a lot of money on the Linux world and see what we can learn from that!

Option#1: Make Cloud-Based Apps

It doesn’t matter whether you are on Windows or OSX or Linux (or even Android or iPhones), cloud storage free options come with a limited storage capacity. If you need more, the only option is to pay the provider. This is a good example of a cloud-based service that you can build to make money in the Linux world. The fact with cloud-based services is, the more platforms you offer support to the more your user base will be and the more money you can make!

I know what you are thinking,

Isn’t the cloud storage space crowded with enough competition already?

Cloud storage was just meant to be a familiar example, other familiar examples can include Microsoft’s cloud services like Office, Azure, Amazon’s AWS, etc.

I understand the fact that as an individual developer you cannot compete with these tech giants. But there is still plenty of opportunities out there and all you need to do it do a little bit of research on your field and identify the market’s needs and gaps step in to fulfill those needs!

Some simpler examples of cloud-based apps that I personally use include

  • pdf processors: to convert scans to pdf and compress them
  • word counters: to get the length of the documents I write
  • online C compilers: to compile and test out simple programs

and that is an endless list that can go on and on.

The Reason behind “The Cloud” being my Number#1 Option

The examples I provided above for simple pdf processors are of-course available on Linux. Word count can simply be done using the command “wc” followed by filename on the Linux command line and of-course GCC comes as default with all major Linux distros to compile C code.

But I personally prefer the cloud for those simple tasks because of the simplicity of going to the browser and type a simple phrase like “online c compiler” and go to the first result and try out my code there instead of doing it on the command line.

Or in the case of pdf processing, instead of finding an app in Linux, installing it and finding out where the option for “compress pdf” is hidden, I can simply google “compress pdf online” and use one of the results there!

The point I am trying to make is These cloud apps are focussed on one simple task which people do rarely which makes them a good option to use!

Also there are plenty of Linux apps without a GUI and a cloud-based option will make it easy on the beginners to the Linux world to test it out longer and not bounce back to Windows or OSX just because they can’t find an easy way to do some simple processing tasks!

How to make money from these free cloud apps?

There are 2 ways to make money with these free apps

#1: Advertisements

Yes you heard it right, ads. Ads these days are the driving force behind the internet! This is mainly because of the fact that ad on a TV or radio is broadcasted to everyone seeing it from grandparents to kids, but with the internet, the ad providers can focus on their audience as only a certain type of user will visit a certain type of websites.

I am not talking about the irritating pop-ups or ad videos that play as soon as you enter a website, avoid those at all costs and always remember the fact that your first priority is your users and not the ad agencies. You can still make a lot of money through simple static banner ads placed around your cloud application.

#2: Paid Memberships

Maybe some big organization wants to regularly use your web application for their needs, then you can provide them with better service by making a monthly paid contract with them and give them priority over the other users, maybe by removing the ads, giving them more processing power to make the process faster for them, etc.

These are just 2 ways to make money from your cloud apps. You can do some research to find more ways to do this, I am sure there are many ways to make money as long as you are satisfying a market need!

Option#2: Make Free Apps

Yup you heard it right, make some free apps! I am sure if you have any problem with windows and you start googling you will find plenty of free Windows apps that solve that particular issue. Trust me, lot of them are making enough money with even these free apps mainly through the 2 strategies that we have seen above namely

  • advertisements (in your product download page and in your tutorial pages) and
  • paid options (which has some special features that only some power users need)

But unlike Windows, Linux is still in its initial phase in terms of fulfilling market needs with free tools. This means that there is plenty of opportunities for developers to cash in!

Now Linux is no longer limited to developers and programmers as distros are putting in a lot of effort in making the experience better and better for beginners.

Linux users love the command line right now, but that trend is slowly getting faded due to the fact that the percentage of non-tech users of Linux is increasing in recent years. There are plenty of amazing tools in Linux, but the main problem with them is that they are still in a command-line format. Put a nice GUI around it and viola you just made a Linux app that fulfills the need of beginners!

Make an easy install package and deliver it online with some good videos and step by step tutorials of how to use them and do some Search Engine Optimization and there you have it, your very own Linux app!

Option#3: Make the Best App in your sector!

This option is for entrepreneurs who are reading this article! This option will have you starting with a small team (maybe 1 or 2 developers) and grow bigger into a noticeable organization in the industry later on once you start seeing some success.

If you can make something that no one else has, you can charge for it no matter what platform you are selling on! A great example of it is “JetBrains” a company that develops IDE and related developer tools.

Example: JetBrains

Started in the year 2000 as a startup in Prague, JetBrains has grown exponentially in the past 20 years. Jetbrains is a company that offers software products like Integrated Development Environments for several languages and Project management software. You can learn more about them on their official website https://www.jetbrains.com/

Specifically, head over to the store page and have a look and you will see a huge list of products offered on a yearly subscription basis. They make products that work cross-platform on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux. According to some statistics published by this company at this link about 49% of their users use Linux as one of their operating systems. At this link, you can see that they had about 276,000 paying customers in the year 2017 and the number must have only grown in the past few years! These are clear indicators of the fact that they are making a lot of app sales in the Linux arena!!

So the next logical question that comes to mind is

What are the factors that made JetBrains a very successful app development company?

Let’s next analyze the reasons behind JetBrain’s successes!

Reasons Behind JetBrain’s Success

Quality applications

They make quality apps that employ effective algorithms to reduce resource usage in terms of memory and processing. I do love the Eclipse IDE, but then it loads forever and consumes too much RAM and CPU cycles. Also some options are not intuitively placed and beginners find it hard to navigate. JetBrain’s IDE gives a much better user experience for developers and the people who pay for it feel that it is worth paying for!

Subscription model

This is another reason that JetBrain’s make lots of money. They have a novel, user-focussed subscription plan where the end-user can buy the app and he will get free updates for a year. If after one year the user does not wish to get the updates anymore but wish to just continue using the app, they can do so without paying a dime extra. Only the users who wish to get the latest updates and features can pay further. This is how any software model should be and JetBrains implemented it. Due to these policies, user’s don’t feel extorted and hence JetBrain’s has got a good fan following these days!

There are several other factors that made JetBrains successful, but from our perspective I believe these 2 are the most important ones.

So to summarize

  • make the best app in your sector
  • keep the users as your first priority

and you should be able to grow your app idea into an industry-standard!

Other Options

Apart from the options mentioned above, there are several other ways to make money selling apps in Linux, but you probably need a bigger team and a larger capital to start your project as these options will have you compete with the tech giants!!

Some ideas include the following

  • Make high-end games that run on all platforms like Linux, Mac, and Windows
  • Become a competitor for Microsoft office!
  • Find a way to give cheaper cloud storage plans than any of the other tech companies
  • Make Linux based quality Hardware (not an application I know, but this is something that Linux is lagging in compared to others in the PC and Laptop markets!

No matter which path you chose to take, do plenty of research to make sure it will succeed before you start investing your time and money in your plan!

And with that, I will conclude this article!

I hope you guys enjoyed this article and learned something useful. 

If you liked the post, feel free to share this post with your friends and colleagues!

Related Articles

Some of my other articles that might interest you!

Can You Make A Linux Distro And Sell It? An Analysis!

How Do Linux Distros Make Money? Strategies Explained!

A Step By Step Plan To Learn Linux..!

A Beginners Introduction To Linux Package managers: apt, yum, dpkg & rpm


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