Nowadays there’s a lot of discussion about open source software and the issue also attracts the attention of many buyers of technology solutions. But what are the benefits and disadvantages of open source programs?

Let’s start with the basics. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) uses ten points to define open source software. Any software license that complies with these points is considered to be open source. In my opinion, the most important criteria are the following:

  • Freely redistributed. The program may be reproduced and copied free of charge.
  • Source code. The source code should be readily available.
  • Derived works. Changes to the software can be made and distributed as derivative works.

The revenue model for open source software companies is not based on commercial software products, but, for example, on customer support services, further development, product packaging and upgrades.

Pros and Cons of Open Source

Open source model has both pros and cons to the buyer of software solutions. Benefits include the following:

  • Continuity guaranteed. Open-source software development does not have to end when the program’s initial developer company loses interest or goes belly-up. Since the source code is available, the development effort can be continued by other interested parties.
  • Low start-up costs. Open source software can be used for free, and you can try out different options. Before the user has to spend any money on customer service or any other related services, they already know what to pay for.
  • Simplicity of license management**. Close-source licenses often come with a number of limiting clauses and constraints, such as a maximum number of users at the same time, or limited amount of installations, etc. Keeping track of these conditions may become burdensome, yet it is altogether avoided by using open-source alternatives.

There are also disadvantages:

  • Smaller selection. Although the use of open source licenses has become more popular, closed-source still prevails. Therefore, there are far more closed-source programs available in the market. In particular open-source programs for certain specific uses can be difficult or even impossible to obtain.
  • Inferior device support. Device drivers are often first created for closed-source platforms because hardware manufacturers cooperate with large software companies.
  • Compatibility issues. Sometimes closed-source software companies try to protect their market share by creating proprietary file formats that can be used only with their own programs. Luckily, most popular formats, such as Microsoft Office documents, can be opened with open source tools such as LibreOffice.

Open Source Programs at Anders Innovations

At Anders Innovations we use open source software in our daily work. Our servers are Linux-based and our solutions are mostly developed with the Python programming language. Python allows us to create functional and reliable software relatively quickly.

In our web solutions we utilize Django CMS. Django is a Python-based web framework that enables easy creation of web solutions and applications. Django CMS is a content management system, which is based on Django. In addition, we use Magento, the popular e-commerce platform, for some of our projects.

The writer works as a developer at Anders Innovations.

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