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Open Source Software: Good or Bad for Business?

These days small businesses and the like are searching for ways to save some time and, far more importantly, cut costs of the overall operation of their company. Open source software has been considered a life saver for both time and cost by many who own or operate their own business.

Open source software is a type of application that individuals can modify and share, similar to how a public domain is used. Open source software has a source code that absolutely anyone can modify and enhance to their benefit. A source code is basically the back-end of a software application that you don’t see with the naked eye. It is the code that programmers can change to adjust how an application operates for them. This is how applications can be debugged, fixed, and enhanced for the user. A straight upfront benefit to this is that open source software can be easily shared between colleagues, not to mention that it allows for¬†mass participation in the development of an application. This is a massive benefit for the small business who may not have the budget for pricey commercial software.

So what major benefits do small businesses exactly reap from open source software? Well, for one thing, the ability for any of your colleagues or employees who are developers to create their own software based on the shell of an open source software application and enhance it to their liking.

Oftentimes you will find that open source software is in almost every facet of every kind of software, regardless of your need in your business.

Many open source software alternatives for flagship suites exist and have several different options. Apache OpenOffice offers a completely comprehensive alternative to the popular Microsoft Office suite. Businesses that often use Quickbooks for bookkeeping will be pleased to find an open source software alternative like TurboCASH. Cloud computing software like Google Drive also has open source alternatives. Applications like ownCloud and Nextcloud are highly beneficial open source software cloud applications. These types of open source software offer nearly as much flexibility and use as their industry standard counterparts. For businesses, though, the best part is that all of these open source programs are free.

So what’s the downside to all of this? Well, as previously stated, small businesses obviously reap the benefits of free software, but many businesses have concerns with open source software and its lack of official support. There’s no help desk you can call with most open source software which means you’ll have to do much of the detective work if you find some errors or flaws in your application. Although, most open source software applications out there now have established communities and even forums where you can communicate with others who edit and use the software all over the world. Even though just about all open source software is free, there are developers and programmers who charge for their services of editing these applications if you have no one on your team who can do the work for you.

With all those downsides being considered and set aside, though, open source software presents many opportunities for you and your coworkers to collaborate, design, improve, and benefit from cost-saving software that you can call all your own.