Pros & Cons of Open Source Software
Open source software is software that is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to use, change and distribute the software and its source code to anyone and for any purpose. This allows businesses to take advantage of the software to customise and meet their requirements.
This could be seen as a major positive for businesses with limited budgets, as licensing costs are significantly reduced, while also impacting development in a number of positive ways. There are a number of drawbacks associated with this type of software, meaning it should be carefully considered.
Discussed below are some of the main pros and cons of using open-source software for businesses.
Proprietary solutions often require large budgets whereas open-source solutions are a far more cost effective for organisations. Not only will open source software be easier to set up, it’s far easier to maintain and scale alongside the growth of the company.
Open source software removes barriers and increases the level of accessibility for developers leading to a more flexible approach to software development. Without needing to wait for procurement or licence barriers, developers can greatly speed up processes, especially as projects can be immediately implemented from public repositories.
From a developer’s perspective, open source software provides the flexibility to customise the code according to specific needs, allowing them to modify and adapt the software to suit their requirements.
Because open source is so flexible in its nature, it attracts flexible developers. Open source development experience and contributions to projects can significantly boost a developer’s career prospects.
As developers can contribute code, fix bugs, or add new features to open source software it can also help showcase their skills and expertise to a wider audience.
More and more solutions being developed are open source, whether it be on web or mobile. A popular example of open source in action includes Google’s mobile operating system Android, which makes up approximately 70% of market share worldwide.
While open source software is usually seen and scrutinised by many developers around the world, project contributors aren’t always security experts and often mainly only focus on functionality issues. Because of the open nature of these type of projects, it poses security risks that cybercriminals can easily exploit.
Due to open source software often being a collaborative approach, there often lacks official support for users from developers.
This can pose a number of challenges for users who require support or assistance with complex issues. While it depends on the nature of the software, paid support options may be available but could significantly add to your costs.
Similarly, documentation available may be incomplete, difficult to understand not extensive.
Open source software solutions often focus solely on functionality, rather than taking all types of users into account. The user interface (UI) of open source software may not prioritise aesthetics or intuitive design.
This makes it less user-friendly compared to commercial alternatives, while also leaving you with unsatisfied and frustrated customers.
Hardware compatibility can be an issue with certain open source software. Most open source projects attempt to cast a wide net regarding functioning on as many devices as possible, but there are often limitations when it comes to functioning correctly on the latest hardware.
Compatibility can be especially challenging for organisations that rely on specific hardware technologies.
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