The Free Technology Academy is closed. To know why, and what may come next, please read here. To find and download FTA resources not listed in these pages, instead, please visit the Free Technology Academy File Archive! Thanks!

Economic aspects of Free Software


This module is focused on the study of Free Software in relation with the private sector and the economic implications of its use and development models. We analyse the software industry from an economic perspective: how it was affected by the raise of free software and what is its potential for the future. On the other hand, we study how to use Free Software in the private sector, from a software development perspective but also regarding deployment and migration.


Although free software has been around for over twenty years, it only recently began to be seen as a valid alternative for many users, companies and, increasingly, institutions and governments. GNU/Linux is currently one of the most reliable and efficient operating systems available. Although the fact that it is Free Software led to some initial wariness among users and companies, GNU/Linux has proved itself to be in the same class as any other operating system available today.

The aim of this course is to initiate you into the world of GNU/Linux. It covers the basics of the open source philosophy, how to use and modify GNU/Linux to suit your needs, and how to find your way in this new world more easily. Nonetheless, this document is not an essential reference guide for administrators and/or users; there are already hundreds of manuals, how-to guides and other reference works numbering thousands of pages that serve this purpose. Our aim here is to help you take your first steps in this as-yet uncharted territory for too many users and administrators, and to explain how to tackle and resolve potential problems by yourself.

The course is not based on any particular distribution, but we need to specify certain actions for most of the examples and activities, for which we will use Debian GNU/Linux. Although this distribution is not as intuitive and user-friendly as others, it will serve to explain all the characteristics of a GNU/Linux-based operating system, step by step. Moreover, its remarkable quality, stability and security make it one of the most valid options available today. We should also mention the support available for other distributions, which is essential for many companies. We have therefore included an appendix explaining the installation process and main features of RedHat Linux.

We hope that you will enjoy the course and it will open the doors of the world of Free Software to you. The more users we are, the more software and better quality we will obtain.

Welcome to GNU/Linux!

Learning Outcomes

  • To identify and understand the most relevant economic factors related to the technological sector, and in particular the free software sector
  • To understand the different business models that may be employed in the software industry, as well as their principal characteristics
  • To understand at a deeper level the business models and opportunities linked to free software
  • To understand and relate the economical, technological and legal prerequisites for creating and maintaining an enterprise based on free software
  • To analyze cases of exploitation of free software in the private sector and their relations with the technology marketplace
  • To understand at a deeper level the strategies for development and exploitation for profit of free software
  • To plan and develop the design of valid and viable businesses based on the exploitation of free software


  • Basic economical concepts
  • Characteristics of the software marketplace
  • Business models based on free software

European e-Competence Framework

  • A.3 (Business Plan Development) level 5
  • D.5 (Sales Proposal Development) level 3
  • D.7 (Sales Management) level 5
  • E.1 (Forecast Development) level 4
  • E.7 (Business Change Management) level 4

ACM Computing Classification System

  • K.1 (The Computer Industry)
  • K.4.1 (Public Policy Issues)
  • K.5.1 (Hardware/Software Protection)

Teaching Staff

See the FTA tutors page.

Academic Requirements

There are no specific requirements for this course. Basic concepts on Free Software an Economy are recommended.


If you want to enroll into this course, please follow the instructions in the main Courses page.


Book cover

This material is part of the module: "Economic aspects of Free Software".

Economic aspects and business models of Free Software

  • Authors: Amadeu Albós Raya, Lluís Bru Martínez and
    Irene Fernández Monsalve
  • Coordinators: David Megías Jiménez
  • License: GNU Free Documentation License
  • This is not the final version of the book
  • Information: 221 Pages; 3.0Mb