Facts and myths about open source software

It’s fair to say that there are some widely held misconceptions about open source software, as well as some potential challenges that public sector organisations should be aware of. Here’s our take on separating the myths from the facts.

Myths

1. Open Source is less secure

A major barrier to organisations considering open source software is the fear of risk because the source code is openly available to anyone an in turn, open to threats from the hacker community. However, the wide accessibility of code can actually facilitate early detection of vulnerabilities and lead to a more secure product.

2. Open Source is free

A common misconception about open source is that it’s free. While open source software with no support can be obtained at zero cost, it may not be a finished product. Costs are incurred for the development of feature enhancements and/or support and services.

3. Open Source isn’t licensed

Open source licenses are essentially terms of use and not items to be purchased as can be the case for proprietary software. There are a variety of licence models for open source, where each licence model has specific terms for the use and modification of code. It is important to understand both specifics of the open source licence in question.

4. Open Source is a fad

Open source software has been in commercial use since the mid-1990’s. It is used by organisations of all sizes across various sectors including those for whom security is a priority. It was first investigated by the Cabinet Office in 2001 and in 2002 it was considered necessary to have an explicit policy on the use of Open Source Software within UK Government.

Facts

1. There may be hidden costs

Support and maintenance costs may be greater than those of the proprietary package. It is important to examine the full cost of ownership with your supplier to mitigate this risk.

2. There may be further development required

Open source software may need to be developed further to integrate with existing proprietary software systems. It is imperative that you discuss how you plan to use the software with your supplier and list any other software that it will need to integrate with. Some open source solutions may never work well with established proprietary products.

Make sure you have all the facts when considering open source software. Email hello@learningpool.com to talk to one of our team about the solution that is right for your organisation.

 

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