Open Source Software Pros and Cons List
The emergence of open source software has revolutionized the world of technology. The first software that ran on the mainframe computers was primitive. The operating systems of Apple and Microsoft were the first of their kind software to touch the lives of ordinary people. Today, there are millions of software applications and not all of those are unaffordable. Premium software is still costly but there is no dearth of open source software which can help you to do everything, from calculating taxes to comparing loans, assessing vulnerabilities of your desktop to predicting the best futures so you could trade in.
Open source software is good news for millions of people who cannot afford different solutions but it is not all hunky-dory. There are substantial shortcomings of open source software and there are many challenges that must be acknowledged. The realm of open source software is in its primitive stage and it is expected to evolve further but it is also true that the realm of premium paid software and proprietary products will continue to have its own niche. Here are some of the open source software pros and cons.
List of Pros of Open Source Software
1. Open Source Software is Free
All open source software is free. Most open source software, certainly the larger and more popular ones, has paid features. If you want special plug-ins or special add-ons, custom features or you wish to make your utility exclusive for a given purpose, then you will pay extra. The basic features are free and anyone with a compatible system, access to internet and intermediate knowledge of computers can use most open source software.
2. Affordable Software Infrastructure
Companies across industries have been compelled to spend a lot of money on various kinds of software over the decades. From operating systems to financial software, billing systems to enterprise resource planning solutions, any well provisioned information technology infrastructure is certainly not easy or cheap to develop. With open source software, a part of the information technology infrastructure can be attended to without spending any money or spending very little money. Businesses will probably need more features than what the basic versions of open source software offer but that investment is bearable. Some solutions cannot be free such as licensed operating systems and high end or heavily customized enterprise resource planning solutions but billing systems, website builders and many other tools are available for any and sundry.
3. Innovative Solutions
The realm of open source software fuels innovation. When developers, programmers and designers used to work for software companies in the last century, they were told what they must work on. They had to go by their job descriptions and work only on sanction projects. The companies specializing in software development would never take risks of developing any solution that they wouldn’t be able to sell, that too at a premium price and to as many businesses as possible. The dependence on money and the obvious need for resources including manpower made it very difficult for innovation to thrive. Not that software back in the twentieth century was not innovative or game changing but the extent of innovation was certainly limited. Today, developers have a free reign and they can design or develop anything. If they don’t have the expertise beyond a certain point, they can have other open source developers to perfect the software. Contributions from millions of such open source developers have lead to the creation of WordPress and countless such solutions. These software have changed the world as we knew it.
4. Startup Wonders
Open source software has certainly helped the startup culture. Startups don’t have the resources that established organizations have. There are very few resources and almost no backup. In such a scenario, the plethora of open source software certainly helps. Not only has open source software helped the startup culture but itself has become a startup industry. Innumerable startups in the last few years have been about developing open source software. Whether starts need to develop websites or need tools to devise search engine optimization strategies, whether one needs to assess social media management or someone needs to build links for affiliate marketing, from accounting to business planning, marketing automation to lead generation to website analytics, there is very little and perhaps nothing that open source software cannot do.
5. Reliable & Constantly Improving
Open source software is reliable and it is being improved upon all the time. Developers dedicated to the cause of developing open source software are not confined to only a few. The congregation of millions of software developers from around the world work on different types of software, initiate changes, the changes get checked by peers, then they are rejected or improved and perfected. From technical imperfections to serious glitches, everything gets attended to by the active community of millions of developers.
6. Open Source Software is Scalable
Open source software gets free upgrades so as it grows and scales up, a business can also expand its extent to which the software is used. Scalability, compatibility and relevance with changing times is assured with most open source software.
List of Cons of Open Source Software
1. Safety is a Concern
All developers of open source software and even users who love the applications they use will assure you that they are safe but concerns remain. Open source software is not proprietary. Developers from all around the world get access to the codes, can change them and do anything they want at the end of the day. No one knows who’s accessing the codes and making changes to the software at a given point in time. People with malicious objectives can easily jeopardize your business or work by compromising the safety features or security protocols of a particular software. There are many who would be able to use the software to exploit users. Be it viruses or adware, malwares or spywares, phishing attacks or automated and manual hacking attempts, every user or selected users can be vulnerable to a plethora of potential compromises.
2. Where’s the Accountability?
If you are not paying for something and if you are not really entering into an agreement in the stringent legal sense with any organization or an individual, then you cannot hold anyone accountable if something goes wrong. There are open source software that offer some useful services or tools and in the garb of that capture data or run malicious campaigns which can harm users, specific programs or be a part of the larger surveillance missions invading your privacy.
3. Poor Standards, Features & Services
Open source software doesn’t match, forget outdoing, commercial software. The developers don’t make open source software focusing on specific needs or specializations that companies require. The solutions are more generalized. While generic software can be useful for individuals, companies may not really find them to be an appropriate, efficient or useful solution. Since premium open source software comes at a price, companies can choose to have personalized software anyway. Open source software doesn’t have customer service or troubleshooting teams working round the clock. There are forums and resolved problems on discussion threads or blogs. But you wouldn’t get dedicated customer service or any kind of services for that matter.