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I sometimes wonder how it is that makers of freeware, good freeware make a profit.
You have to differ between freeware and open source software. Usually freeware is closed source software that either uses advertising to generate money or is a version with lesser features/other limitations of a commercial program, like for example the Express versions of VisualStudio.
People that write open source software usually make their money with being employed by a company (either they write the software for that company, like for example some Red Hat developers or they just write the software in their free time) or they sell support contracts (you can for example use MySQL for free, but can also buy a support contract).