Note: Before i began preparing this post i never thought it would be that long :). I hope you have enough patience to finish it all. I tried to collect the most common info so you'll be totally convinced about Free Open Source Software.
I will break the post into 2 posts so each one won't be too long when you're scrolling your mouse :D.
The most common question people ask me whenever i tell them about Linux and Open Source concepts is "Why should i be interested in that ?" or " Is that better than Windows?". Let's search for a convenient answer to this question and dig into the benefits of Open Source. After a good googling i found the following benefits.
1. Being part of a community :
By adopting open source software you become part of a community of users and developers who have an interest in working together to support each other and improve the software. The extent to which you engage with this community is up to you, but you may obtain the intangible benefits of goodwill if you do.Programmers in particular can benefit from belonging to an open source community. It can help establish reputation and respect, as well as gaining valuable experience.
2. Public Collaboration :
One of the major benefits of open source software is the public collaboration behind each project. Most open source projects are created by tens of thousands of programmers all collaborating to create, and improve upon, a flawless website framework.
Many software development companies use a proprietary, or home built, system as the framework for the websites they create. Open source software, such as WordPress and Drupal, were developed by thousands of talented developers. What would you rather own, a software package created by a handful of developers, or a software package created by thousands of developers? Open source software promotes software reliability and quality by supporting independent peer review and rapid evolution of source code. A proprietary solution can not compare to that of open source.
3. Choice :
By its very nature, the source code of open source software is available to all, meaning that no one company owns the software. Any company can build upon open source software. It may be operated and maintained by multiple vendors, reducing both barriers to entry and exit. A customer can easily choose another vendor because they are not locked in to one vendor's offering.
4. Not bound to a single development company :
With thousands of developers already 100% knowledgeable with your software framework, any open source friendly company can work on your website. Don’t be bound to a single development company because you are stuck using their proprietary software.
5. Avoiding lock-in:
Organizations are said to be ‘locked-in’ to software products when the costs of switching to alternatives are prohibitively high.
Proprietary software vendors can ‘lock’ users in to their products by ensuring that they are not readily compatible with potential rivals. Vendors may then increase the price of product upgrades or support without too great a risk of losing existing customers.
As there is no incentive to use non-standard formats to inhibit compatibility, open source software tends to use open standard formats and there is little danger of being ‘locked-in’ by a vendor. Even when non-standard formats are used in open-source code, it is always possible to document them from the source code. On the contrary, closed formats used by proprietary software need to be reverse-enginered, a burdensome and expensive process that may need to be repeated when the format is subsequently changed.
It should be admitted, of course, that open source software does not come without switching costs of its own. Some administrative and re-training costs must be borne by any organisation that opts to switch between different software. And proprietary software may use open standards too, as is the case with Adobe's Acrobat Reader, a closed-source programme to read PDF files (PDF format is an open standard). Indeed the use of open standards is especially important in ensuring future access to data as it will be possible to find or create alternative programs that conform to the standard.
6. Flexibility :
Open source software is transparent. If there's something you want it to do you can either modify the product yourself or pay someone to do it for you. If you wish to, you are free to contribute your modifications back to the community so that the software continues to improve. Most Open Source licenses only require you to do this if you re-distribute your modified product to others.
7. Customization :
Closed source applications can only be customized or adapted within the scope provided by the original vendor but never outside its boundaries. Open source applications may be customized by anyone with the requisite skill. Thus, open source software can be readily adapted to meet specific user needs. Even if you cannot program yourself, if you would like something added or customized you can generally pay an appropriately skilled software developer to do it for you.
For businesses or educational institutions, the ability to customize source code may enable improvements to the ‘best practice’ provided by default installations, therefore improving efficiency and possibly providing a competitive advantage.
The Open University made a decision in 2005 to invest a substantial sum of money in developing the Moodle virtual learning environment to best suit their requirements. As the Moodle source code is open, they can do this for themselves rather than having to persuade a commercial vendor to do so on their behalf.
8. Take control of your software :
Open source software gives you the power to control your software's code. You have the right to modify the code to suit your requirements and control the budgets that you want to spend towards it. Unlike proprietary software, where the vendor controls your code, upgrades and budgets -- with open source software, you control the upgrade process and can choose to decide which bugs to fix and when.
9. Continuity :
It is possible that a proprietary software company shuts shop or decides to discontinue services for a software. With it goes the support and the future of the software. Open source software is not dependent on a single entity and gives users the advantage of the community. Any developer can choose to take up the software and continue from where it stopped.
10. Auditability :
Closed-source software forces its users to trust the vendor when claims are made for qualities such as security, freedom from vulnerabilities, adherence to standards and flexibility in the face of future changes. If the source code is not publicly available those claims remain simply claims. By publishing the source code, authors make it possible for users of the software to have confidence that there is a basis for those claims.
To Be Continued ...