On Sun, 11 Jul 2004 22:22:23 +0100, Mat wrote in message 

> I can see several business ideas related to this along the lines of
> something that could be fun to develop but which also has a variety of
> commercial possibilities.
> Does anyone have any examples of how commercial collaborations with
> open source projects actually work in practical terms ?

..ask Nazgul aka Big Blue aka IBM the SCOX whacker.  ;-)

> For instance if you were developing a hardware product specifically
> for use with Flightgear, how would you develop the software side
> without competitors being able to find out exactly what you are up to
> ?

..they would probably wanna keep things secret, the GPL kicks 
in _on_ distribution.  In-house development etc is fair use.

> I guess you'd set up a software company that privately develops the
> software.

..optional.  We _are_ flightgear.org.

> Are there scenarios where the community helps write software and gets
> cash back from related profits. 

..plenty.  ;-)

> Could you set up a "Flightgear Foundation" that developed commercially
> useable add ons away from the gaze of potential competitors and got
> cash back from profits towards things that the community wanted to do?

..there is _no_ conflict between "commercial" and the GPL. 
You are thinking of _closed_ source software, which _is_ in 
conflict with the GPL, and usually sold for much more than its 
own value.  Also google for "sharewarez" etc to find plenty junk 
for "free", check out how their licenses closes their source.

..Red Hat, Novell makes tons of money _selling_ GPL software.  ;-)

> Or can open source software be developed privately and then shared at
> a later date ?

..yes, assuming no distribution until release of the source.  Clever
people will wanna sneak their hardware etc out to retailers, then 
on "D-day", Kaboom-sell everything and publish their source.
> To be clear on this I do understand the point of open source and am a
> firm believer in it. I hope this is not seen as a dangerous question. 

.. ;-)

..med vennlig hilsen = with Kind Regards from Arnt... ;-)
...with a number of polar bear hunters in his ancestry...
  Scenarios always come in sets of three: 
  best case, worst case, and just in case.

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