Open Source Software and the whole Open Source philosophy are all great and wonderful things, but they aren’t perfect. Before you think that the whole Open Source world is a utopian environment filled with ponies, fairies, and bubble gum money, here is an honest pro and con list to ground your picture of open source software in reality.
To make the list as unbiased as possible, both Pro and Cons will be listed next to each other.
Pro: Open Source Software is Free
You don’t have to pay when you use any open source software. So if you don’t want to put out the cash needed to license all of your 500 office workers for Microsoft Office use, then you can always go with open source software such as OpenOffice.
Con: Proprietary Software isn’t a waste of money
Just because you have to pay for a piece of software, doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a waste of your money because there’s always the open source choice. Propriety software also have lots of good things going for them.
Pro: Lots of actual programmers around
The open source community is full of programmers and computer engineers, and any one of them can help you out or you can also hire them to help you figure or repair your open source software.
Con: Very little to no Pro Tech Support available
The other thing about having full open source programmers is that they aren’t really obligated to help you (not unless you hire their services.) So while there are available resources around, you might still end up receiving no help at all because nobody wants to help you out.
Pro: Continuous Real Time Development
Popular open source software, because there are lots of programmers that have access to the software open source, get continuous real time development. So you can expect better versions from these open source software.
Con: Development Team Disbands
The other side of this coin is that if you aren’t using a popular open source software, you might end up with that just one version. If the programmers decide to disband or they lose interest and move on to other things, the upgrades you might be waiting for probably won’t happen. You can wait, until another programmer takes up the cause or you can hire your own.
Pro: It’s Easy To Manage
Because you can install the open source software anywhere and on any number of machines, for any number of uses, managing the whole thing can really be very easy and light on your schedule.
Con: No Documentation
However, because it’s open source, which means nobody is probably documenting the whole software development or whatever, you’re probably going to have a bit of trouble taking care of questions from your users or explaining to them how things work. So it’s actually a question of one thing over the other.
Pro: You or Your IT staff can customize
With the open source code available to anyone who wants a crack at it, you or your own IT staff can make customizations to the software to suit your needs.
Con: Steep Learning Curve
Again, because there is no professional documentation or maybe even a professionally made user manual, some open source software will give even the best IT some problems, just one of these being a very steep learning curve.