Open source software (OSS) is crowd-sourced
As a result it has benefits - cost, flexibility, freedom, security, and accountability - that are unsurpassed by proprietary software solutions. OSS also has long-term viability and is always on the cutting-edge of technology. It's created and supported by a worldwide community of organizations and individual developers, many of whom also live by open source values like collaboration and volunteerism.
OSS has cost benefits
The vast majority of OSS is freely distributed. But OSS is said to be “free as in kittens” and not “free as in beer” - it requires maintenance, configuration, and ongoing support.
The trade-off is flexibility and freedom. Unlike closed proprietary software, OSS can be altered and extended by any developer familiar with the source code. This grants organizations freedom from “vendor lock-in” and assures long-term viability. A widely adopted OSS project is often supported by hundreds of capable development shops that can always be called upon long into the future.
OSS is supported by a community of developers
These same development shops are constantly reviewing the OSS code they support, as are thousands of independent developers working on the project worldwide. The result is a vast peer review process that ensures security and accountability. Security holes are found and fixed quickly. While anyone can research shops and developers based on the quality of code they write.
OSS has strong values
And more often than not, OSS shops and developers hold similar values. In all aspects of life, they are advocates for more community participation, collaboration, and volunteerism. They believe in working together to build free, high quality products that are accessible to for-profit and nonprofit organizations alike.
This belief underlines the mission of the best OSS shops and developers. It pushes them to build new features and contribute these features back to the community. As a direct result, popular OSS projects are always on the cutting-edge of technology.
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This post was originally published on May 18, 2015 and has been updated for accuracy and freshness.