There’s a debate going over whether to go with open source or closed source applications, and it’s really confusing everybody, especially those who are just new to the whole open and closed source thing. What really is going on with open and closed source software and which one is the best for you?
First off, there’s an ideal answer and there’s the real world answer.
The ideal answer goes that in an ideal world there shouldn’t be any debate between open and closed source software and that choosing between either of the two should just be a matter of preference rather that one particular kind of software being better than the other.
However, this isn’t an ideal world, and there are pros and cons between open and closed source software.
Open vs. Closed Source: Maintenance
When something goes wrong with a proprietary software that you paid for, you don’t have to do anything about it to make it run properly again. The same thing goes when you find a bug; other than reporting the bug (or not reporting the bug), you don’t have to do a thing. It’s the developer’s responsibility to fix or upgrade the software.
With open source code software, you or the developer will have to fix it yourselves. That means taking the time out to read through the code, do some coding yourself, do some debugging yourself, and then do some documentation yourself. Now it might seem like a lot of work, but when you take care of the problem yourself, there’s a good chance that you’re going to get the fix that you need.
With proprietary software, you might have to wait a couple of weeks, months, or even years before you see any development.
Open vs. Closed Source: Tech Support
Here’s another good-bad debate between open source and closed source code software developers. Sure when you use an open source code software, you all of a sudden join a community of developers. In an ideal world, that many developers and that much knowledge base focused on the same problem should help solve your problem in a jiffy. But this isn’t an ideal world and programmers and engineers are busy doing programming and debugging.
There are very few individuals in the open source community who is really going to be your tech support for the day. Of course, if you paid them to be your tech support, that’s just like paying for the software as well. So you might as well pay for your software if that were the case right? Well, maybe.
Open vs. Closed Source: Documentation
With closed source software, vendors are responsible for providing you with the proper documentation. It’s part of the product that you pay for. With open source software, there’s a good chance nobody is being bothered to document the whole project for free. Or if there are any documentation at all, it’s probably all over the place and you would have to search the internet to piece together the answer to your question or to find what you are looking for.