Discover the pros and cons of Open-Source software.

The Pros and Cons of Open-Source Software

Cost plays a significant role in many decisions, including information technology-related ones. In today’s modern world, one of the things that people spend on is software. However, purchasing off-the-shelf products like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop or building tools from scratch can be expensive. For this reason, open-source software (OSS) has been widely accepted by individuals and organizations.

However, since this type of product is built, maintained, and updated by a diverse community online, its parameters can swiftly change, and some people question the security of these open-source products. Is this type of tech suitable for home and enterprise use? Before deciding, learn more about it below, especially its pros and cons.

What is open source

What is Open Source Software?

As its name suggests, this software application provides users with open-source code. They are free to modify it whenever they want. For example, LibreOffice, a copycat and free downloadable version of Microsoft Office, could be used for personal projects or business.

Moreover, OSS can also be used for education, like Ginger or Grammar K, which mimics Grammarly. These programs are similar to an essay writing service that checks grammar, sentence structure, and other errors, offers suggestions, and even checks for plagiarism. Similarly, professionals can integrate it with their word-processing apps, emails, and more to have more polished reports.

For this reason, this type of technology has become very popular, especially since the source code is available to everyone. The source code can be edited or modified based on the user's needs. And just like any other tech, this is not infallible. Learn more about OSS's advantages and disadvantages below.

Advantages of Using Open-Source Software

Many people love open-source software because of its advantages. It has many benefits, like lower cost, faster iteration, and more flexibility because people aren't locked into a contract to work with a single vendor. Let's expound on them below:

  • Cost-Efficient: OSS is mostly free to use without compromising quality. Anyone can download it with ease and do what they wish. And if ever there are plugins that ask for payments; it's usually very minimal and affordable. It's great for individuals and businesses with meager budgets who want to stretch their dollars.

  • Flexible: Unlike popular software, users of OSS don't have to be locked in for a specific contract period. They're also not required to purchase complex sets from vendors. They can modify the source and remove it if there are irrelevant features or plugins they don't need. Stringent vendor requirements do not enslave users.

  • Reliable: Those who use OSS vouch that they are highly reliable. After all, the software is crafted by experienced and highly-skilled developers. Hence, the products come with minimal flaws. And if there are issues, OSS is constantly monitored by experts so they can address problems and fix them before they escalate.

  • Scalable: Because users can alter the software, they can scale the products based on their needs. Individuals and businesses that are reliant on open-source software can scale up or down to mitigate costs and avoid complexities. With these features, they can readily achieve their desired results.

  • Licensing: Unlike proprietary products like Adobe Photoshop, OSS does not enforce restrictions on the number of times consumers wish to install it. Hence, people can use them without having to monitor their movement. Regardless of the device or location, OSS can be utilized with ease.

  • Minimal error: Open-source products are imperfect but have minimal errors. Thousands of IT experts monitor and maintain OSS. They band together and form a community to stay abreast of issues and quickly make updates when needed. This community ensures that the software is bug-free. And since the source code is available for everyone, releasing a fix is swifter too.

  • Constant improvements: The idea of this technology is that users can constantly make improvements. Since it's open, anyone can improve and update the code. This proffers an advantage for all the patrons of OSS.


Disadvantages of Open Source Software

Although OSS offers many benefits, it's not without flaws. Just like other tech innovations, there are also risks involved. Check out the disadvantages of using OSS:

  • Security concerns: Because it's open, the code is available for editing from anyone. Unfortunately, this opens up OSS to misuse. People with ill intentions may use it for shady transfers or even theft. The risk of hacking is bigger for these products because it's also easier to download malicious updates.

  • Compatibility issues: Some tech products cannot simultaneously run on proprietary software and OSS. Moreover, some types of computer hardware may not be able to support an open-source application. It's important to check these limits first.

  • Non-seamless interface: Some open-source applications aren't user-friendly, so only tech-savvy people can handle the interface. Hence, users may require training before they can adeptly handle the product.

  • Hidden costs: Although most OSS are free, they may come with hidden costs. For example, users could end up paying for maintenance. Those who face problems during implementation may have to seek help and fork out money for third-party support.

  • Driver problems: Finding required drivers for hardware parts may be problematic because they should be able to support the OSS installed. Users must ensure any new hardware component can meet the functionalities of the open-source product.

  • Poor support: Unlike paid, mainstream software with extensive support, OSS does not have this option. Those who encounter technical issues may find it hard to find support services. And since the product is typically crafted by many programmers and developers, finding a provider to help resolve issues can be difficult.

  • Close down: It's always possible that the community behind OSS can close the shop. Hence, those updates and changes will no longer be in the picture. Those who've installed the product are left to maintain and find fixes. Hence, this puts enterprises in a vulnerable position.

The Final Verdict on OSS

Since open-source software comes with risks, those downloading and installing it must keep an open mind. It’s vital to weigh the advantages and disadvantages while considering their goals. Be ready and prepared to accept the potential risks of using OSS so there will be no regrets.