Open source software has been around for decades and is used by some of the biggest and most well known companies to date (like NASA and Amazon) but there are still many misconceptions about it that persist.
In this blog post, we’ll explore ten of the most common misconceptions about open source software and explain why they’re incorrect.
Myth #1: Open source software is unreliable
Fact: Open source software is just as reliable as closed-source software, and in many cases, more reliable.
This is because open source software is maintained and developed collaboratively by a large community of developers, so bugs and security vulnerabilities are quickly identified and fixed.
Additionally, large, well known projects like Apache OFBiz have committees with appointed persons and teams responsible for overseeing things like security concerns, questions, etc., which increases the project’s ongoing reliability.
Myth #2: Open source software is difficult to use and maintain
Fact: Open source software is just as easy to use as closed-source software, and in many cases, easier.
Aside from the fact that many open source software projects have large and active communities that provide support and help to users who are new to the software, many businesses choose to work with an open source service provider for ongoing development and implementation support as needed.
Whereas with proprietary software you’re limited with what you can do when it comes to help requests that are dependent on the vendors availability, transparency, and general level of support, with open source software you may have your own developers, access to the entire open source community, and your open source service provider if you choose to work with one.
Myth #3: Open source software is not secure
Fact: Open source software can actually be more secure than closed source software.
Because the source code is open and consistently used, monitored and improved upon by the open source community, security vulnerabilities are quickly identified and fixed, which benefits everyone who uses the software.
With a proprietary software, your knowledge of any security issues or vulnerabilities is highly dependent on how transparent your vendor is.
In other words, your software could have a vulnerability and you wouldn’t even know about it unless they chose to share that information with you.
There’s also no visibility into their security monitoring and patching process, which means you are essentially at the mercy of internal adherence to whatever policy they have in place for reporting these things. With open source software, that’s just not an issue.
Myth #4: Open source software is only for developers
Fact: Open source software is used by people in many different fields, including artists, musicians, writers, and scientists.
There are open source alternatives to many popular proprietary software packages, such as GIMP for image editing, LibreOffice for office productivity, and Audacity for audio editing.
Additionally, while it’s true that plenty of companies hire internal developers to maintain their software, there are plenty others that work with an open source service provider so that they don’t have to add on to their own team.
This allows them to reap all the benefits inherent in open source software without taking on the internal cost of hiring additional developers.
Myth #5: Open source software is always free
Fact: The difference in cost between proprietary and open source software comes down to licensing fees.
With off the shelf software, you pay a recurring fee in exchange for using the software. With open source software, your access to the source code doesn’t cost any money.
This is one of the driving reasons for the continued adoption of open source across enterprises, because technology leaders know that they can still have an excellent IT infrastructure while saving significant amounts of money at the same time.
Myth #6: Open source software is not as good as proprietary software
Fact: Open source software is often just as good, and in some cases better than proprietary software.
Open source software is developed and maintained collaboratively by a large community of developers who are passionate about the project, and often have more freedom to innovate and experiment than developers who work on closed-source software.
In fact, access to innovation and leading technologies is one of the top reasons organizations opt for open source over closed source software. Working with a service provider to help maintain, train, or implement your open source solution can be really helpful for setting yourself up for success with open source.
Myth #7: Open source software is not supported
Fact: Many open source software projects have large and active communities that provide support and help to users who are new to the software.
In addition, many open source projects offer commercial support options for organizations that require more formal support.
Apache OFBiz is a great example of this, as enterprises have the option to work with OFBiz service providers but also have access to the entire Apache Foundation and the ongoing help and support it offers.
Myth #8: Open source software is not used in enterprise environments
Fact: Open source software is widely used in enterprise environments, from small businesses to large corporations.
Many of the most popular open source software projects, such as Linux and Apache, are used by businesses of all sizes.
This is partly because open source software is literally built to scale and can easily be customized as a business grows- something that just can’t be done in the same way with an off-the-shelf solution. This customizability and ease of growth can actually make open source more suitable for enterprise environments than closed source software.
Myth #9: Open source software is not user-friendly
Fact: Open source software is often just as user-friendly, and in some cases more user-friendly, than proprietary software.
It’s used by organizations all over the world, and favored for its ease of use for developers and customers alike- especially if the technology is from a large and active community like Apache OFBiz.
Communities like this work to make the software as user-friendly as possible, with iterations that are vetted and improved upon by the community continually.
Plus, the added customizability of open source means that if there’s a particular aspect of the software that your team would like to be different, you’re able to make those changes because the source code isn’t proprietary.
Myth #10: Open source software is only for small projects
Fact: Open source software is used in many large-scale projects, including major software platforms and applications.
For example, the Android operating system, which is used on billions of mobile devices, is based on the Linux kernel, an open source project.
The scalability of open source software makes it especially suited for large projects because there just aren’t the same size and capability based restrictions users can encounter with closed source software packages.
In conclusion, the above myths about open source software are just that – myths! Open source software is reliable, easy to use, secure, and often just as good or better than proprietary software. It’s used in a wide range of industries and environments, and is supported by large and active communities.