Positives and Negatives of Open Source Software

When discussing open source software it is important to consider the benefits and possible drawbacks of such programs. It is obvious people would take the opportunity to acquire free programs over those that cost hundreds of dollars however the majority of us generally use the expensive and well known products over the open source versions. Why aren’t so many people using the available open source programs? Is it because many don’t know about them? Or is it because they aren’t as good as the programs requiring licenses? Below are some positives and negatives to using open source software.


–        Open source software is free: Users can download the programs with only the need for an internet connection

–        Open source software is made by free agents: Developers are not part of big corporations which market to the appearance based consumers with big advertising campaigns. They are more interested in obtaining praise from their peers in the open source community. Therefore they are more likely to rely on the quality and this obviously means more reliability and less emphasis on fancy features.

–        Flexibility: Open source literally means the source code is open or in other words accessible to everyone. This enables audits from outside parties and also alteration to programs with no restrictions. The programs can continue to improve and develop therefore without restrictions and control by the big companies trying to make money.


–        Problems are solved faster: Because open source software codes are available to everyone and are more flexible than the proprietary type there is an online community of people who know about the programs. There can be a lot of support for problems the program may face and therefore they can be easily fixed. This YouTube clip is a little ad aimed at highlighting this point


–        Open source developers are not paid and contribute to the community on a free and unattached basis. This poses the question of the reliability of these programmers and the number willing to do this compared to those getting paid to produce software.

–        The options are limited: The amount of open source programs available which the majority of people want and need to use is fairly limited. Users have less choice when it comes to different programs and rely on these unpaid developers to continue producing the files.

–        Compatibility: Unfortunately open source software is not compatible with all applications and means limited access for some users.

–        Open source is not easy: For those of us who are not confident with computers, open source software can seem a very daunting thing. It is not ‘plug and play’ as described on http://www.techsoup.org/learningcenter/software/archives/page9905.cfm

These are just a few of the positives and negatives to using open source software. There is huge potential for the users of open source however in this capitalist world where we value profit margins and appearance over equality and sustainability, the community of programming enthusiasts seem overwhelmingly outnumbered.

Posted by Rebecca Sanders

Information obtained via





~ by winter1008opensource on June 21, 2009.

One Response to “Positives and Negatives of Open Source Software”

  1. I believe the biggest positive of open source programs to us as educators, is the opportunity to acquire different resources to engage students and to deliver content for free. Resource costs are a major issue in our government schools and open source is a cheap alternative. It also gives students opportunity to develop skills in different programs, which is very beneficial for their own I.T skills. The more literate our students can be at a variety of I.T skills, will expand their horizons for future employment and general I.T productivity .

    Posted by Peter Koulaxizellis

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