10 years ago

Busting the Open Source Myths

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 Open source software is not always the magic bullet that would solve all your IT issues.

A lot of people are trumpeting open source software.  But things are not really that cut and dry, and some myths persist.  Four Cornerstone clarifies some myths that people might have about open source software.

Open source means better code.

A lot of open source advocates banner that open source means better written code for your software.  This is simply not true.  However, open source can actually expose bad code for all to see, thus also enabling others to improve on it.  This does not mean, however, that open source software has better code out of the box.

Also, you have to understand that for open source software to actually get good code, it needs proper management.  That way, it also gets to be improved.  Not only would you need someone who already knows your code and your application in order to improve on it.  Your code needs to be in a wide field.  For example, it has to solve a prevalent problem, it has to be used by a lot of people, or you have to use a programming language or platforms that a lot of people know and understand, such as JBoss, Linux or MySQL.

If you have an open source enterprise resource planning software, it may not really benefit from peer reviews because there is limited community involvement in these types of software.

MySQL is a great example of a successful open source project.

A lot of open source advocates cite MySQL as a great open source software.  But the truth is, while MySQL and MariaDB have made RDBMS affordable for everyone, MySQL is not a good example of open source software.  MySQL was not developed by everyone in the community where they used their combined skill to produce the best software.  MySQL is not community-driven.

Open source = software freedom

Open source does guarantee some degree of software freedom.  But in order to get full leverage of this, you must have a wide range of proficiencies as far as programming language goes.  For example, if you have an open source database software, you would best understand it if you knew C, C++, bison, yacc and MySQL.  If you have good C knowledge but not in MySQL, being able to see the code would not really be that beneficial for you.  Also, take into consideration that if you are not familiar with C++, you will not gain too much from looking at the MySQL code.

Open source software needs documentation.

Some open source software developers tend to neglect documenting their work properly.  They reason that people could just take a look at their code and work from that.  But in reality, the code does not really tell you what it does, only how it will do things.  It tells you how the software does things, but not if it should be done that way.  Documentation can help clear that up.

What Four Cornerstone is trying to tell you is that open source software is not always the magic bullet that would solve all your IT issues.  Sometimes, using proprietary software such as Oracle can mean that you have a better software that is more secure, well developed and comes with great support and documentation.  What’s more, Oracle might even be able to give you a free or more affordable solution for your enterprise IT needs.  Contact Four Cornerstone today!

Photo courtesy of nengard.

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