Free and Open Source Software

Reasons to use FOSS

[NLUUG home]  -- [foss index]  [licenses]  [patents]  [resources]  [reasons] 

Why use FOSS?

Many people find themselves in the situation that they consider FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) a good thing, and want to convince others. This is especially true if you want to convince your boss, since managers are used to spending money, they are suspicious of something that is free.

A Dutch list of advantages of Open Source Software can be found on the VOSN site.

Because it's free (as in freedom)

For managers the main reason to use FOSS will be freedom. If they decide to buy propriatary (closed) software, it will be difficult to ever switch to another vendor. Next year that vendor will set the price such that they make a lot of money, but it will still be more expensive to switch to another solution. This is the lock-in effect of closed software.

The best example is when it comes to MS-Windows. What company can do without buying MS-Windows, and often also MS-Office? Microsoft knows that, thus they keep raising the price. You have no choice than to pay. Unless you use another system where possible.

Because you don't need a signature

Most companies have a system for ordering things that cost money. Fill in forms, get signatures, wait until it's processed and hopefully the package will arrive some day. When a license needs to be signed the legal department is involved and it may take much longer.

In contrast, FOSS can be downloaded and installed in minutes. You only need to be allowed to install software on the system.

For governements in Europe the tender system is compulsory above a certain amount. That means a long and complicated process. There is no need for that at all with FOSS.

Because you can change it

If you buy closed software, there is only one place you can go to for adjusting the software to your needs. The lack of choice will very likely make it expensive, and you may not be satisfied with the result. And if it's a big company they might simply refuse. With FOSS you have the source code. Minor changes you can make yourself. If it gets too complicated, you can hire someone or a company to do the work for you. You have a choice who you hire, you can select the best person or company for the job at a reasonable price.

Because it's better

FOSS is mostly developed in a chaotic way, it seems. It is true that this means deadlines are not important. What does matter to FOSS developers is quality. They keep working on it until it's perfect. Peer review plays an important role: Everybody can try a test version of the software, look at the code and make remarks about things that don't look right. This is especially important for security. Many people do their best to find leaks, it is a challenge for them. The result is that FOSS tends to be reliable and secure. But sometimes it may take a while before it's ready.

Because there is high quality support

FOSS is developed by many people. If you have a problem, often you can directly contact the person who created the specific part. Or ask your question on a maillist, you may get a solution within an hour or a patch within a day. But this can be unpredictable. If you need reliable support, you can hire a company. For a helpdesk this is not much different from closed software. But if you run into a real bug, they can actually fix it for you. You don't need to wait for the next version from the vendor.

Something wrong or missing? Please send a message to < Bram AT >.           Last modified: Tue Jul 27 2004 22:11:59 UTC +0200