There’s an increasing number of government bodies, corporate institutions, and nonprofits that are using open-source software such as Linux. As this trend becomes common, it’s clear that cost is not the only motivation for open source programs. There are numerous other, compelling benefits to the use of free and open source software. Below are a few examples.
Believe it or not, open source software happens to provide superior security. For instance, think about the multiple defects that have been discovered in the Android kernel by third-party and individual security professionals. The only reason why this is possible is because the code is open to public scrutiny. And despite this example, Android might not even be fully open source. Linux is generally known to be more secure that most other competing operating system. As the guy who discovered this popular open source OS, Linus Torvalds, said, ‘given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow’. There aren’t so many reports on flaws in Windows, iOS, and other proprietary software. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are more secure.
Between a software product developed by a handful of paid in-house developers, and one created by thousands of skilled developers, which is likely to be better? The answer is obvious, right? There are scores of talented folks working to enhance the quality and security of open source software. That’s probably why you see new features and enhancements in such products more often. According to a recent study, technical superiority is one of the key reasons why enterprises are opting for open source software.
If you’re using proprietary software solutions such as Microsoft Windows and Office in your business, you’ll need to keep upgrading both your hardware and software. On the other hand, open source software is less likely to be this resource-intensive. This means that you can just do well on your older hardware, and you can decide when to upgrade at your own pace.
Open source software does a much better job at adhering to standards than proprietary solutions. If you’re serious about interoperating with other businesses, computers, users, and software, without being limited to proprietary data formats, go the open source way.
One of the best advantages of open source software is that you can tweak the program so that it better fits the needs of your business. Since the code is open to the public, it’ll be a matter of adding the functionality that you want. You obviously can’t be able to do this with proprietary programs.
When your firm turns to open source software, you will no longer have to worry about serious vendor lock-in that can affect the functioning of your business. Whether they acknowledge it or not, businesses who religiously rely on proprietary software are at the mercy of the vendor, and his or her requirements, vision, prices, priorities, dictates, timetables and any other limits. With free and open source software, you can do as you wish with the program.
7. Support Options
There’s a lot of support for open source software, usually in the form of the vibrant communities that are made up of thousands of users. Most Linux distributions, for instance, have excellent documentation, communities, forums, wikis, mailing lists, forges, newsgroups and even live chat. If your business wants extra assurance, most open source packages do come with paid support options, at a price that is way lower than what you’d have to pay with a proprietary package.
There’s a lot of cost-saving with free and open source software. Proprietary packages come with the initial purchase cost, and in addition, you need to pay for support, upgrades, and even virus protection. Open source software gives you a significantly better quality at a very small fraction of that price.
Unlike proprietary software programs, you don’t have to pay anything to try out an open source software. This is true because the package comes free. For instance, there are lots of LiveCDs, live USBs, and multiple Linux distributions. You are not required to make any prior commitment, and this is definitive a great thing!
Notwithstanding these clear benefits of open source software, you need to take your time weighing the custom needs of your business against the features of all available software solutions.