If you are planning to explore open source to get your dream website built, then we must tell you that this is the wisest decision you’ve made and you’re on the right path.
Open source was unthinkable earlier, but due to the myriad of benefits it comes with, such as limitless customization and agility, it is now considered first over proprietary CMS when a solution is needed.
“If you look at proprietary software, in virtually all cases you never see the source code until it’s too late. Open source is the complete opposite: Not only could you evaluate by literally reading the code, looking through the issues, and seeing the temperament of the community in general, you’re also able to rely on your peers to vet that software,” said Brian Doll, vice president of strategy at GitHub.
According to a study by North Bridge Venture partners and Black Duck Software, around 45% of the study’s respondents admitted that they chose open source, because of the technical capabilities and stolid features it offers.
Additionally, open source adoption by major brands, like Twitter and Facebook, is proof that this technology has a glorifying future.
“Enterprises these days are looking at these technologies for innovation, as well as for ways to overhaul their current systems. It’s a very easy decision to make if you look at it from a financial standpoint,” said Joaquin Lippincott, president and founder of Metal Toad Media.
However, when buying any new thing you need to know the nitty-gritty of it. The same applies to open source adoption. You need to know every little detail of open source to ensure your decision is right and do not fall short later on.
But, we understand it’s a tedious task to research and collect such information and you may even not get what you’ve been looking for.
So, to make this job simple for you, we have prepared the following list of points which you need to know before moving to open source.
- Open Source is Not Always Free
Yes, you read correctly.
If you think open source is completely free to use, then you must know that only the source code is free and the application itself is not. There is a large number of businesses making significant revenue from their open source projects.
In most cases, the advanced or support features offered come with specific pricing, but any “community version” offered in a product is free.
An example of this is the popular messaging and collaboration tool Zimbra. Although it offers a free open source edition, the editions offered with advanced features and less access to source codes come with a price tag.
- Offers Full Access to the Source Code
Open source provides you with full access to a program’s source code, even if you don’t need it. There could be instances that you may use open source for the entire lifetime, but never need to touch the coding.
Just because the source code is available, does not mean it’s necessary. You would only require it when planning to modify your application.
- Open Source is Not Just Restricted to Linux
If you think open source is just for Linux, then you must know that it’s not so. This is just a common misconception and the reality is that there is a large number of open source projects that are either for Windows only or for cross platform.
Some popular Windows open source software are Mozilla Firefox browser, VLC media player for video playback, LibreOffice for word processing, Bitcoin for financial transactions, Filezilla for file transfers, Drupal, Apache, MySQL and more.
- Not All Free Software is Open Source
Most of us are familiar with the two most popular free software freeware or shareware and there is a misconception that those are open source as well. This is not true.
If the source code of the software is not made available to you, then, technically, there is no way that it is open source.
- User Support is Not Guaranteed
There is no guarantee that you will get dedicated user or customer support from every open source software, and you may need to scour communities, like Reddit or Stack Overflow, to get your issues and queries resolved.
Some open source software do come with support options with a fee, while others don’t. This can prove to be a difficult choice to embrace for larger organizations.
However, even if an open source software doesn’t offer dedicated support, like 24/7 phone support or live chat, doesn’t mean you won’t get any support at all.
For example, you may be provided with several other support options, such as dedicated forums, mailing lists and direct contact with the developers who built the software. So, it is advisable to look out for support availability options before you plan to go for open source.
- Open Source Software is Written by a Community
Unlike proprietary software, open source is written by a community of developers and is not a product from a specific software company. The community is made up of contributors from almost every part of the world. While some do this as volunteers, for others it’s a part of their daily job.
Every open source software has a steering committee that looks after the contribution management, source control, and bug list. Because this technology makes source codes available for access, any changes to a local implementation can be made immediately.
However, any amendment to the accepted current version may take some time to be implemented.
- Open Source is Highly Reliable
Although we witnessed high-profile open source vulnerabilities like OpenSSL’s Heartbleed last year, industry experts still consider open source software as equally or more secure than proprietary software.
The advantage of open source is that once a flaw is detected, it can be fixed in a short span of time as the contributors do not need to wait for any approval to initiate working on a solution.
Also, once the fix is done and the community is satisfied with the result, it is distributed to the users as soon as possible.
Although open source is distributed freely and is easy to install and update, to get the real advantage of it and to make sure it satisfies your organization’s needs, you may require specialized consulting.
Go for the one that has extensive experience in implementing open source solutions and have a proven track record.
We hope the aforementioned points helped you to better understand open source and it is advisable that you remember these points when you plan to go for open source solution.
If you want to ask us any question, you may do so as we have been building plenty of open source websites for clients all over the world and thanks for reading!