Why Businesses Should Use Free and Open-source Software

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Open-source software has been enjoying increased use by businesses and consumers in recent years. You might be wondering why open source solutions are gaining popularity and what factors are driving this trend? The reason is pretty simple: it’s great for business and individual use. Here’s why.

Open Source Is More Secure

Open-source software will always be more secure simply because it’s open-source. Just recently, there’s been a lot of defects discovered in the Android Kernel. While many people would probably frown at Android for having such bugs, the very idea that people can easily open it to check its integrity is a testament that open source is a great security model.

While Android isn’t exactly fully open source, it still illustrates Linus Torvalds’s (the founder of Linux) belief that every bug will be tracked with enough monitors. Because more people can see and observe code, more people can invest varying degrees of their time and energy in looking for bugs and fixing them. And should any program be used frequently enough, the people using them will most likely also do their due diligence in maintaining it by looking for bugs. Any bugs detected will immediately be fixed, and bugs will be detected, thanks to the sheer number of eyes looking for them.

One might think that closed-source or proprietary software is a lot more secure, especially since you don’t often hear about security leaks in Mac or Windows computers. However, this means the opposite as it means that this software is closed and cannot be monitored by unbiased third parties or even consumers. Nobody outside their respective companies can verify what bugs there are, and as a result, they can’t be tested nor corrected. They might have in-house developers, but compared to the sheer number of voluntary testers the free and open-source software (FOSS) community has, their bug testing simply cannot be significant nor efficient.

Open-source software bugs are usually found and then fixed quickly, with the lesser-discovered Linux kernel exploits discovered recently as a good example. Proprietary software doesn’t have this benefit, which spells trouble for business owners. Imagine a vacation rental business whose ledger and booking for that season is suddenly corrupted by malware, or the data is suddenly compromised. It spells major trouble and is the last thing any business owner wants.

Quality Is Generally Better, and Updates Are More Consistent

A software package built by a small group of developers is less likely to be as comprehensive, strong, or even regularly updated as a software package generated by thousands of willing developers. These products have numerous creative new features and enhancements as well since countless developers and users are looking to improve the security and functionality of open-source software.

Open-source software is usually the most similar to what users want since it allows users to participate. Users and developers can do what they want, integrate functionality they find helpful, and do it effectively, rather than relying on vendors providing what they think the users want. In fact, according to a recent study, technological advantages are often the primary reason businesses adopt open-source software.

It’s Significantly Cheaper

It comes as no surprise that many businesses and government organizations now choose open-source software like Linux as a low-cost option that can be swiftly customized and adjusted to match their requirements. More than half of all software purchased in the next several years is expected to be open source. This also includes intelligent software tools like machine learning, as well as operating systems and productivity tools.

But how is this free nature achieved? Essentially, FOSS is generally created through community efforts and collaboration between programmers. Developers and programmers donate their skills and time while also removing the need for costly marketing and branding programs. Customers also have access to the source code, allowing users with programming expertise to address defects without incurring large support charges, and the very nature of FOSS lends itself to DIY and community reporting as well.

Support and Technical Help Is Free and Plentiful

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Since FOSS is free, tutorials, guides, and support for it are normally free as well. There’s an active community behind the most popular FOSS applications, with both the developers and users more than willing to help those who need it. Almost every Linux distribution, for example, has a strong online community that includes extensive and comprehensive documentation, discussion chat boards in multiple social media platforms, wikis, and archives, and even live help chat.

Most open-source packages provide support options at a far lower price than most proprietary suppliers for businesses that require additional protection.

Because of their focus on sales, even commercial support providers for open source software are more responsive and cooperative.

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