This is an anonymous post sent in by a member who does not want their name disclosed. Please be thoughtful with your responses, as these are usually tough posts to write. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to leave an anonymous comment.
For further actions, you may consider blocking this person and/or reporting abuse
Top comments (17)
This is an awesome question. The answer depends on which point of view to take.
If you work at your job on the open-source
Open-source is great because you can use it for free (most of the time)
You can read source code and learn from the author - see real-life code, not educational examples.
Open-source is great because it is free (most of the time). Sometimes it may cost to pay developers to support solution based on open-source, but I would say in general it is economically good anyway.
Open-source can be a safe bet because when you use propriety soft, you depend on other company
With open-source on the other hand, you are safe, because if you really depend on some soft you can fork it and use it.
You can sell open-source as PaaS, which will give you immediate profit almost without any effort. This is what AWS doing for hosted MySQL, Redis, PostgreSQL, etc.
If a company produces open-source it is more attractive for developers, because they will have a chance to work with open-source.
Open-sourcing something may give you free testers and sometimes free labor. Some companies use open-source as a hiring process, instead of the home task they ask to contribute to their open-source projects.
Open-source has a great impact on economics. Open-source and free software enabled a lot of growth, a lot of IT business exist because there exists an open-source solution, they wouldn't be able to sustain without it. For example, Linux and nginx which serving 80% of whole internet traffic. Git is the part of Github success. Etc.
Open-source enables scientific research. No need to pay for soft makes research cheaper.
Companies have no need to produce the same propriety product, no need to waste time and resource. Instead, they can work one product - big corporations contribute to Linux and other big open-source. Imagine that instead, each company would support its own crappy OS.
The most interesting bit. Often maintainers get nothing for their work (unless this is their day job).
There are very famous open-source maintainers, for example, Linus Torvalds, Yukihiro Matsumoto, etc., which get a lot of fame praise (probably a bit more money, because of status), but most of the open-source maintainers get nothing. No fame. No money.
There is a strange idea that open-source will make you famous or respectable. It can happen, but only if you make a very popular project.
There is a long-standing problem of how to make open-source sustainable, for example, we should make special licenses which will force big companies donate-back.
Or maybe we can pay open-source maintainers from tax money, and add tax for tech companies (the same way as we pay for roads - if you have a car, you should pay road tax).
There is this donate button on the Github, but I don't think of it as a solution. If you are a social person, you can get money with it, but otherwise...
I have so many ideas on the subject, maybe miss something
Pros. Global fame
Cons. Global slave
The many upsides are well covered by other answers. However, businesses often do not open source their software for the following worries.
Please don't take this as a defense or being in favor of closed source. I'm simply the messenger.
Giving away competitive advantage
If your software does something remarkably different from your competitors, and you open source it, it will be easier for your competitor to copy the feature. Then there is one less reason to go with your product over a competitor. This is the same reason the Coke formula stays locked in a vault.
Loss of IP value
When your software is closed, the source and rights are assets that could be sold or licensed to another company. But if that company can get a copy of the same code and usage rights for free, it is much less valuable.
Loss of control
When you open source software, it is essentially no longer yours... especially if it becomes popular. It becomes harder to make changes as the number of stakeholders increases to internet scale. For example, Guido van Rossum stepping down.
A lot of us readily ask for a lot of things in open source repos, and far fewer of us are willing or able to help. Having a constant influx of issues to triage and prioritize takes labor. Also, popular community requests may not be needed by your company. So open sourcing can add extra overhead cost to the budget.
Personally, I think that OSS is one of the great wonders of our field. I am simply exposing the worries that businesses have about open sourcing their software. It's why Microsoft doesn't open source Office; Apple doesn't open source Logic Pro; Google and Facebook don't open source their ad tech; etc. They might open source infrastructural bits and pieces, but not the core ones that make money or are vital to the business (e.g. Google's search ranking code).
There's a theoretical con of not having commercial support. However, in production most commercial support solutions suck, too.
But I may be biased. 😉
Pros: Open source software is an opportunity to work with people who share your good idea, freely, without interference. Also, to learn about more 'open' styles of development and management; essential 21st century skills.
Cons: OSS contributors are, essentially, 'freelancers' who rarely get paid, and all too often work alone.
Cons is that it's a sticky situation when noone feels like maintaining your package anymore even though half the globe depends on it through some weird dependency chain
Honestly, I had that more with commercial software than with OSS.
"Your depend on it, you fix it."
That is correct! 😉
It's not a con, but you need to invest significantly to benefit from open source. I'm not talking just "giving back" or "chopping wood and carrying water", but any significant usage of open source in an organizational setting requires investing in tools, policies, processes and potentially culture. You can't shortchange your open source investments - you're shortchanging the commons, and yourself.
Building stuff for other people to build upon
Also gives you resume clout
I wonder if Sloan is a reference to Star Trek character Agent Sloan who works for Section 31.
In theory open source system is 100% open source, can be added to or deleted entirely by anyone.