Open source software has changed the world. Those who could not afford the premium software applications and thus could not compete with cash-rich enterprises or individuals have now found an equal footing. But not everything about open source software is encouraging. One may argue that the very premise of open source software is in its nascent phase and it would evolve to get better and that rebuttal would be true, but the contrarian reality is that paid software and copyrighted or proprietary material will still have a place of its own. Let’s take a moment to explore the advantages and disadvantages of open source software.
Advantages of Open Source Software
1. Open source software is free.
There are features or add-ons, plug-ins and custom features which one can pay for but the software itself is free and all the basic features are available. This does away with the need to purchase any similar software. Before open source software, companies used to spend a fortune. Most software applications that were made by renowned companies and were commercially marketed had steep prices. Ordinary individuals or small to medium businesses could not even imagine buying such software. That was one reason why a massive majority of businesses across the world did not endorse technology. From accounting to websites, it is only now that a shop at the nook or corner of a small town would have a website or would use an accounting software. It has been observed that the software industry suffers an annual loss of about $60 billion ever since opens source software became prevalent and viable.
2. Applications are developed by extremely creative and technically skilled professionals.
Even if the developers don’t have years of experience behind them, having worked for major tech firms, they have the talent and the knowledge to develop impeccable solutions. There was a time when only major brands were known for their software and anything that you did not hear of or were unaware of would be termed as juvenile and you would have discarded them. Check out the popular open source software of the day and they are better than many paid software.
3. Has changed the startup scene.
Not too long ago, startups were encouraged and people have been entrepreneurial for a while now. But the lack of resources limited one’s ability. Today, there’s open source software to develop websites, for online marketing or search engine optimization, social media management, affiliate marketing, accounting or bookkeeping, to calculate taxes, business planning and lead generation, marketing automation or website analytics.
4. Open source software can be highly reliable.
Since any and every developer signed up to the network for the particular software can make changes and those changes can be reviewed by peers, perfected or rejected, what you get eventually is a technically perfect product. If there are glitches, an active community of millions of developers come together to fix it. This is, on any given day, better than just a small group of people working in a company, whom you don’t know, trying to fix a problem. In effect, open source software becomes reliable, trustworthy and you feel a sense of fellow feeling since everyone in the network or developers’ community is coming together to help you and one another.
5. Gives you free upgrades.
It is needless to say that open source software have free upgrades, one can scale up or down, find compatible open source software to have a larger inventory and one can basically run an entire business without paying for any software application.
Disadvantages of Open Source Software
1. Open source software may not be safe.
Since the product and even its codes or all the technical foundation would be openly accessible to the whole world, there can be people with malicious intent who would want to jeopardize the software or would want to exploit the users who have downloaded the software. From viruses to malwares, spyware to adware, phishing attacks to hacking attempts, everything can be facilitated if any open source software is compromised. Unlike proprietary software or those that are made and commercially marketed by brands, the source code and all codes of open source software is available for all to see.
2. Can at times fail to match the standards of commercial software.
Since the developers are not making the software bearing in mind the specific needs of a type of organization, commercial software can look, feel and be more user-friendly. It is also obvious that commercial software will have certain features that open source software would perhaps not have.
3. Rarely has any substantial customer support.
No one gets paid so no one has to work to troubleshoot your problems. All you may have is a discussion forum or an online community other than the frequent asked questions, tutorials and perhaps a knowledgebase. In other words, you need to be tech-savvy to make the most of any open source software.