Why Pay if You Can Have it for Free?

Today, I learned about free and open source software (or FOSS). It is a kind of software whose source code is made available for users to study, improve, and change.

A Short History

The idea of a free software came from Richard Stallman and so he established the Free Software Foundation and GNU Project. This free software enabled the freedom to run, study, copy, and improve the design of the said software. After which, gave birth to GNU/Linux or more commonly called as “Linux” alone (Linux usually runs with a GNU operating system; the whole system is basically GNU + Linux thus, GNU/Linux). On the other hand, Eric Raymond came up with a more “business-friendly” term for free software thus, it was called “open source” and with came the foundation of Open Source Initiative (OSI) that provided 10 definitions as to what is an open source software.  It was in 2007, however, that commercially open source software co-opted the term. With this, the open source community came up with the term Free and Open Source Software to bring back the values of Stallman’s and Raymund’s original vision.

So why use FOSS?

  • It is free- basically not really in terms of cost but in its availability for redistribution and modification
  • It is more stable- it has been tested for stability and is much less prone to viruses than Windows
  • Anyone can download and modify the source code for free- you can modify it to fit your needs
  • It has a superior development process- being a collaborative piece of software, it enables easy detection and remedy of bug issues by combined efforts of different developers all over the world. This makes also make development faster and more in tune to the user’s needs
  • It allows the freedom to choose- there are different distributions of open source software that you can find to fit your taste may it be commercial or free, or you can modify it yourself. It is not tied down by compatibility or license issues.
  • It provides better value for money- you pay for the service not the source code
  • There are also FOSS office applications, graphic manipulation software, programming, and multimedia software available for you to use instead of paying huge sums for a proprietary software.
  • Knowledge of open source is becoming known to companies
  • Interoperability- it works with different platforms and programming languages

Some Fear, Uncertainties, Doubts in Using FOSS? It can be overcome.

  • You don’t know anything about it- There are support documents available on the internet if you’ll just take the time to search. It is up to you if you want to learn about it.
  • What if it does not work well? – the open source community has forums and sites as well as documentation online for you to refer to and there are also open source architect companies such  as 8layer Technologies to assist you in your use of open source software.
  • It is not backed by big corporations- the use of FOSS in big corporation has gained recognition already like IBM, RedHat, HP, Dell, and many others
  • Too good to be true. It will be gone tomorrow.- knowledge of FOSS has already gone widespread and continues to grow and it is definitely around to stay. It is already there!

Why choose Linux?

  • You don’t have to pay high costs to have an operating system.
  • Freedom
  • No need to buy or download pirated copies of software when you can have it free
  • It is free from viruses
  • You don’t need to wait for years to fix bugs, report and track them now!
  • Allows use of workspace for multiple windows.
  • Updating made easy.

Linux is not good only for

  • People who does not take even small effort in learning
  • Application server (where the application actually runs on the server and is for Windows only)
  • Gaming- although it is already underway and this might change in the near future
  • Running critical applications for “Windows only”
  • Catching MS outlook virus-of-the-day

The technology is already made available for you to use. It is now up to you to utilize it and use it to your advantage and comfort. There is no more need for you to pay large sums of money just to have the software you need. You can now, in fact, modify it to fit your needs. Now, what is not to like about free and open source software?







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