Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Sunday, June 30, 2002

Open Source Advantages and Limitations - Overview

The Value of Open Source Software - Is it Paradise or Hell?

The advantages of Open Source has been advocated widely in many literatures. Obtaining the original source code makes it easy to resolve many problems, and become independent of anyone specific vendors, programmers and suppliers.

One lesson that is becoming clearer is that the design of hardware and software and the governance of the Internet matters. These issues can profoundly affect competition and innovation in markets, the ability of universities, libraries and nonprofits to pursue their missions, and the control that individuals can exercise over their lives.

In recent years, a number of forces have converged to suggest the socially constructive potential of software whose design code can be freely accessed and modified by computer users. It is a complex story that is still unfolding and known chiefly in computing/Internet circles.

A growing grassroots movement on a global scale is challenging proprietary models of software development by generating superior, more reliable software that is far cheaper and even free.

The implications are not just technical but economic, political and cultural. A new software movement based chiefly on free, open access to the source code of software, is showing its tremendous power to fortify user sovereignty in the computing/Internet marketplace.

This movement represents one of the most novel, potentially powerful expressions of the consumer movement in a generation.

Over time, if fully developed, the new models of software development could produce innovative, cost-efficient software at much less cost than today, a capacity that could particularly benefit the voluntary, academic, nonprofit and professional communities. It could also help check the excesses of a market-dominated culture by fortifying these "gift culture" communities while mitigating worrisome concentrations of corporate power in the software industry.

With Open Source software you can enhance the software yourself if you think the features are not exactly what you need.

In theory and in general, the supposed advantages of Open Source type of software are that it becomes more stable, adaptable, better in quality, more frequently revised and updated, more secure while remaining free.

For more information on Open Source, please visit the site :

I also recommended the following readings:

1) The Power of Openness:
Why Citizens, Education, Government and Business Should Care About the Coming Revolution in Open Source Code Software open_source.htm



2) Why Open Source Software / Free Software?
Look at the Numbers!
by David A. Wheeler - Revised June 21, 2002

This paper provides quantitative data that, in many cases, using open source software / free software is a reasonable or even superior approach to using their proprietary competition according to various measures. This paper examines market share, reliability, performance, scalability, security, and total cost of ownership.

It also has sections on non-quantitative issues, unnecessary fears, usage reports, other sites providing related information, and ends with some conclusions. View this paper at:

3) Advantages and disadvantages of open source software
Part of "Free Software / Open Source:
Information Society Opportunities for Europe?"

Open source software is becoming the most interesting `new' phenomenon of the entire information technology landscape, generating a level of interest similar to that of the first moments of the Internet. However, as we will show in this document, the open source software phenomenon is not historically new, although in recent years it has reached a critical mass, which has allowed it to enter the mainstream software market.

The impact of open source technology is expected to be quite noticeable in the software industry, and in society as a whole. It allows for novel development models, which have already been demonstrated to be especially well suited to efficiently take advantage of the work of developers spread across all corners of the planet.

It also enables completely new business models, which are shaping a network of groups and companies based on open source software development. And it has, in general, a very positive impact as an enabler for the creation of new markets and business opportunities.

Despite these facts, many people think that the open source movement is merely another temporary fashion in the software industry. On the contrary, many other believe that changes caused by open source will be so deep that they will completely shape the software industry of the first decade of the 21st century.

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posted by Robin Good on Sunday, June 30 2002, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

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