Guide

Open source business software

Advantages of open source software

Many business owners use open source software because it has little or no up-front cost. This is clearly a huge benefit, especially to new businesses, but it is not the only one.

There are many other compelling reasons why businesses should use open source software as an alternative to commercial, proprietary software.

Business advantages of open source software

Open source applications are continually evolving in real time as developers fix, enhance and modify the source code. This often delivers:

1. Better security - Many developers working on the source code means that they are likely to spot security problems quickly. Anyone can fix bugs or upgrade the code, without relying on a proprietary vendor.

2. Better quality - Similarly, with more developers poring over the code, open source is typically considered to have fewer flaws and better quality than the standard, commercially developed software.

3. More control - Many people prefer open source because they have more control over the code or the ways they can use it. Proprietary software is fully controlled by its developers. In contrast, all those who use it control open source software. This makes it easy to customise and tailor the product for your exact needs and purpose.

4. No vendor dependence - With open source, you are not locked into a relationship with a particular software company. As the code is out in the open, you are free to take your business elsewhere to find the support you need, when you need it.

5. Easier licence management - If you're using proprietary software, you must make sure that all your servers, desktops or laptops have the right type and number of commercial licences. With open source licences, you can generally use the software as many times, in as many places, as you wish. Depending on the licence type, different conditions may apply - read about open source licensing and legal issues.

Are there any downsides to open source?

Despite the many benefits of open source, in some cases using 'off-the-shelf' products may be a wiser business choice. See more on the disadvantages of open source software.