Why Open Source Matters

I am a big proponent of the open source (OS) movement.  For years I've been able to take advantage of open source software.  Initially I was wooed by the free factor.  I mean, why should I pay for something when I can get it for free, right?  This mentality stayed with me up till I started working in a "real" job.  There, I found that open source software turned from a free thing to a time-saving thing.  With open source, sometimes I'm able to churn out things faster and at a reduced cost.  A double bonus for my employer and ultimately that will benefit me. 

So, we've established that open source software can be cheap and it's presence makes it readily available for fast deployment.  I think this is what most people are drawn to and may be where most people stop thinking when the thought of open source comes about.  Now that I am both a consumer and a producer of open source, I can say that my views are different.  Open source software gives me:

  • Freedom - I have many options when it comes to OS software.  Bjorn Freeman-Benson really hit the nail on the head in Hanselminutes Podcast #91.  That is, we have a choice to pay a 3rd party for support, express our wishes and hope that they align with someone controlling the software, or fix it ourselves.  What more can you ask for there?
  • Confidence - Having the code for my personal review really makes me feel secure.  I don't like getting stuck because my tool doesn't do something that I need or even worse does something that I don't want it to do.  With the source code in front of me, I'm free to make the necessary changes that I need and move on. 

I'm sure open source software has benefited you at some point.  My only request is that you try to give back if you are taking.  Spread the love.