How do you cover for domain name costs in FOSS projects?

patarapolw profile image Pacharapol Withayasakpunt 惻1 min read

FOSS is Free and Open-Source Project, but how do you earn a little money, just to maintain a domain name?

Do you have to put up some ads or affiliate marketing?

I can get a domain name for cheap, but it is hard to get one for free. Also, yearly renewal costs.

It has go in a wallet of someone, might even be some government.


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Maintaining a domain name costs almost nothing. I pay both it and hosting costs out of pocket and never notice the costs. And I work only part time as an intern.


The truth is it is less than 1 USD / mo right now, but I do care.


btw, how get cheap domain name ?

What have you tried? Actually, *.net is usualy not that expensive.

Also, you can get *.js.org for free, but it does have to be open source on GitHub Pages. Maintainers do pay, though.

You can always use a subdomain from one of many providers for free. For instance you can host a site on netlify 100% free, but your domain will be something like mareeps.netlify.com. Not a bad choice for some things.

If you have a bunch of side projects and do not want to start racking up domain name cost you can do like me and subdomain them from your main domain.


This works, but I believe it's very costly in terms of SEO.

great point for sure, I try a bunch of stuff out this way on a whim. The ones mentioned above are ones that I really should have their own domains for at their point.

What is the harm in prototyping like this and not getting a domain for them early on in the alpha stage? Am I hurting myself in the long term.

The only harm I can think of is that if some links to your prototype get spread around, they'll break when you switch to a full domain unless you keep up the test as a redirect indefinitely.

This was the last push that I needed. It's been in the back of my mind that I needed a new domain for my side projects. They all really fit under a good one that was available, so I bit the $12/year bullet and got a good domain for them.

They are all setup with netlify, so it was super simple. Create an exact copy of the website, let the domain stuff settle down then create a redirect.

git checkout <my-repo>
cd <my-repo>
git checkout --orphan redirect
git rm -rf .
echo "*    https://<shiny-new-domain>" > _redirects
git add .
git commit -m "setup redirect"
git push -u redirect

Now log into the old site on nelify and switch the production branch to redirect.

The above links now redirect automatically to the new domain.... now I need a site at the root.

I wanted to do this soon as they were starting to show up in the first fold of google search in some cases, not sure how google handles redirects. Everything with SEO seems a bit mysterious and better to be safe than sorry.


Consider the following: convert the cost of the domain to the time you'd have to work to earn that much money. It's less than an hour a year, right?


There are multiple ways Open source projects maintains their costs,

People say they will pay out of their pockets, we can do that as long as the project have very less userbase and low bandwidth usage. Domain costs are almost negligible if your app became big enough and starts to burn a hole in your pocket with hosting costs.

The ways to monetize a free project is,

  1. Almost always to include a paid tier with some additional/useful features.
  2. Get donations using GitHub sponsors or Patreon
  3. Trying to make deal with hosting/domain providers for your open-source application, most companies will consider and will give you a discount or might bear the cost themselves for a mention of sponsorship on your application.

These are the ways I know, but there might be better ways.

One suggestion for domains is to get one base domain and use subdomains for all your free/os apps, if your app ever got big enough to warrant its own domain, you can start moving in that direction.


Best option use name.github.io . GitHub is SEO friendly and opensource developers loves GitHub. ( OR )Try fast.io : you can host site on drive like Google drive / OneDrive / GitHub and few more.

Hope this helps šŸ™


Great idea, but

  • I still need backend and hide secrets somewhere. Not sure if cross-domain API is safe? Don't have an experience with API Gateway as well.
  • Hosting a SQL is paid (like starting at 5 USD / mo). MongoDB Atlas is free and generous, but if you want automatic backup, it is paid as well (like starting at18 USD / mo). Obviously more expensive than a domain.

Database? Hmmm try firebase or heroku...

Or the best :
1) get free 256 mb lowest free Google cloud.
2) free domain from .tk or redirect your GitHub account domain to google cloud


You can ask @xscode team (xscode.com) - they'd love to advise with anything related to open source monetization.