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Opening Up to Open Source

Have you ever used Mozilla Firefox to browse the web? Or built your own site with Wordpress? If so, you've used open source software.

In 2005, Brazil made international news when its Ministry of Cities switched from Microsoft Windows to open source Linux operating systems. Governments and businesses are increasingly embracing open source software and platforms for mission-critical applications.

“Open source” means that the software is available for people to freely use, copy, and distribute. Open source development is peer-based, and the resulting source code, blueprints, and documentation are equally available for anyone to modify. Here are a few things to consider when evaluating if open source applications are right for your business:

  • Cost: Most open source applications are free to use, potentially saving your business from spending thousands of dollars annually on licensing fees.
  • Support and Training: Open source often lacks the dedicated support and training offered for proprietary software. Depending on the open source application, however, there may be support services available for purchase.
  • Flexibility: Open source programs encourage users to customize and improve on their applications. There are no constraints on which applications you integrate into your workflow, or which extensions you install.
  • Complexity: Open source can be designed for programmers, or built to handle very specific tasks. User interfaces of open source programs may not be as carefully developed as those for proprietary applications, making the learning curve a little steeper.
  • Security: Hackers do not need to see the source code of a software application in order to identify security vulnerabilities, so the fact that the inner workings of open source programs are available to all does not introduce increased security risks. In an ethos of collaboration, open source applications are usually supported by a community that diligently addresses any flaws or vulnerabilities.

For more help deciding whether open source tools are right for your business, contact the computer scientists at XorFox for a free consultation.

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