Tag Archives: closed-source

Open Source vs Closed Source

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Justin called from southern California recently to talk about open source projects. He’s doing some research into this for school, and had a few questions. Justin asked my opinion as to the pros and cons of both open source and closed source applications, along with positives and negatives of each. My opinions are not definitive, of course. As a user, I can appreciate either platform. It’s ultimately about what the software has to offer.

From a code perspective, there are some developers who want complete control over their code. They want to control development, and don’t want any input from others. They know every line of code inside and out, and live and breathe their creation alone.

Open source is more like one person sketching out an idea and then collaborating with others in order to come up with better iterations. If something in the closed source realm changes (or something happens to the original developer), you end up with a product that is dead for all intents and purposes.

Software is living. It’s omnipresent. You’re only as good as your latest version. Software is in a perpetual state of evolution. There are merits on both sides of this particular debate.

I’m a big fan of WordPress, and I’m always on the lookout for coding rockstars. I think there is so much more I could be doing if I had good designers and developers at my disposal.

What are YOUR thoughts? Are you a proponent of an open source ecosystem – or a closed one?

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Free vs Open Source

http://live.pirillo.com/ – Dudeloveschris wants to know what the difference between free and open source software is.

The main difference between free (as in beer) software and open source software is that with open source the source code tot he program is available for a developer to download and tinker with, where free only implies the cost of the software to the consumer.

Wikipedia has a lengthy discussion on open source versus closed source software:

The open source vs. closed source (alternatively called proprietary development) debate is sometimes heated.

Making money through traditional methods, such as sale of the use of individual copies and patent royalty payment, is more difficult and sometimes impractical with open-source software. Some closed-source advocates see open-source software as damaging to the market of commercial software. This complaint is countered by a large number of alternative funding streams such as:

  • giving away the software and charging for installation and support (used by many Linux distributions)
  • make the software available as open-source so that people will be more likely to purchase a related product or service you do sell (e.g. OpenOffice.org vs StarOffice)
  • cost avoidance / cost sharing: many developers need a product, so it makes sense to share development costs (this is the genesis of the X Window System and the Apache web server)

Studies about security in open-source software versus closed-source software show that closed-source software have fewer advisories but open-source software usually has less time between flaw discovery and a patch or fix. Advocates of closed source argue that since no one is responsible for open-source software, there is no incentive or guarantee it will be fixed, and there is nobody to take responsibility for negligence. Open-source advocates argue that since the source code of closed-source software is not available, there is no way to know what security vulnerabilities or bugs may exist. However, having the source code for a program could also make it easier for a malicious person to discover security vulnerabilities that they can take advantage of (instead of reporting or fixing them.)