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Pros and Cons of Open Source Software

Published by Nanni on Monday, October 08, 2012

Photo credit by nengard

Open-source software is free to use, copy, distribute, and modify according to its author's copyright and license. Volunteer developers, testers, and others have formed international communities that create, maintain, and support open-source software. This article first presents examples of open-source software, and then focuses on its pros and cons for users.

Advantages of Open Source Software

Open-source software advantages include low cost, high security, stable features, and frequent upgrades.

Low Cost - The primary advantage of open-source software is its low cost, which is usually $0.00. In contrast, commercial software companies charge increasing prices for their products because they need to spend increasing profit percentages to protect against software piracy. This has caused a regenerative closed loop in which increased prices tempt increased piracy. Moreover, all this added 'protection' code places extra burdens on our computers, thereby slowing them.

High Security - Many developers continually maintain open-source software. Therefore, they find and repair bugs quickly, which virtually eliminates security vulnerabilities.

Stable Programs - Open-source software products seldom cause older programs to cease working. For example, the Linux operating system supports almost all programs ever written for it. In contrast, Microsoft often 'advances' its products so much that they stop 'playing nice' with other Microsoft products. For example, early Windows Vista did not allow Office XP to work correctly. That problem alone caused many people to start the exodus toward open-source software.

Frequent Upgrades - Most open-source software includes free, easy-to-install, frequent upgrades. For example, you can install the newest free version of Ubuntu far more easily than you can install the newest version of Microsoft Windows.

Disadvantages of Open Source Software

Open-source software disadvantages include relatively few features, steep learning curves, and scattered support. However, these shortcomings seem to diminish almost monthly.

Relatively Few Features - Open-source software does not yet have all the features available in commercial software.

Steep Learning Curves - Open-source software, while similar to Windows and Mac software, requires your time and effort to learn some new skills.

Limited Support - Support for open-source software is less available than support for commercial software. When searching for support, try starting with the community's website.

While searching for an answer to a particularly difficult question, you might feel as though you are drowning in the web instead of surfing on it. If you are very new, or stuck, you might consider paying for commercial support if it is available for your open-source software.

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