This post is also available in: French, Spanish

Last world of freedom for some, words of horrors for others : The Open Source is something that doesn’t let anyone neutral.

In this Post we will see what Open Source really is.

First thing : Let’s get various myth down.

  1. Open Source is Free.
    It’s a true and false declaration. Open Source give you free rights of modifying the product. But Open Source is not always free in his price.
  2. Open Source projects are only for geeks / Open Source is complex to use.
    That’s false, the truth is that you may already use Open Source product without even knowing it. (Dvd players, android cellphones, your DSL modem, and many programs that you may have that uses or are Open Source software)
  3. Open Source projects are badly designed
    That’s false. Many projects are used in various domains where no errors are allowed. In fact, the majority of high security places uses Open Source software instead of Proprietary because they need transparency and robustness of the software. For instance : The “Large Hadron Colider” at the CERN, almost all network security appliances, almost all monitoring appliances, ….
  4. Open Source doesn’t offer support
    That’s also false. In a Open Source project you can have commercial support but even if you don’t have it, you have still access to it’s community witch is composed of much more experts that a company can gather.
  5. We cannot make money with Open Source because everyone can have it and no one can control the distribution of the project.
    That’s false. Like I said in one of my older post : “It’s not by having a knife that you’ll become a chef”. Having the tool doesn’t give you the knowledge that comes with. With Open Source you don’t sell a product : you sell a service (courses, support, integration, tweaks, …)
Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman, He is the creator of the Free Software Foundation.

What the Open Source really is ?

  1. Open Source gives you the right to modify your product.
    Let’s take a simple case. You purchased the proprietary product “XYZ” in order to do some specific work. At the end you will need to change your work because the product “XYZ” doesn’t have a specific feature that you need. How much times did you have this trouble ? How much times you had to adapt yourself to your purchased product ?
    Well, in Open Source it’s the reverse : you adapt your purchased product to your needs because you can do it. In the case you don’t know how to do it there is surely someone that has already done that modification somewhere or, at worse, you can take an intern to modify it. For the proprietary product, the best you can do is : With luck you find another product that do that specific part (more money), And if you have even more luck the company of the proprietary product can modify his product in exchange of a prohibitive price.
  2. Open Source gives you the right to share your product.
    That one is even simpler : You want to finish some work at home. However you can’t because the product you use is under license control and your company cannot afford to buy an extra license for your needs to work at home.
    Well, with Open Source situations like that are not possible due to the fact that the product doesn’t have any license control and encourage everyone to share it.
  3. Open Source gives you immediate support to your product.
    Example : You use your proprietary product and this product has a bug you just found that block your work. In this case you have several possibilities. If the company that has made the product has a commercial support and you haven’t bought it or renewed it : “We are sorry to announce you that we can’t help you”. If you have an hotline you will have in a poor English (after severals minutes of classic music wait) : “Which product do you have ?”, “Premium or Extra ?”, “Which version do you have ?”, “Have you tried to shutdown and power up the product ?”, “What version of Windows do you have ?”, “Have you tried to do exactly what you explained to me ?”, “We will escalate your trouble and we will contact you as soon as we have found a fix” …….. and I’ll spare the two month of just having the support understand you.
    In Open Source you have an immediate access to those who develop the product and to those that use it (and many are experts among them). In general your trouble, for the most serious it is, get solved in the week …. if not the same day.

Ok, but how and where to begin ?

There is too much project in the world that describing each big major Open Source project would take too much time.

The best thing to do is to search for the function that you look for in the web.

In case that you really feel lost in that matter I’ve made a custom Google search that will help you simply find open source project with the functions you look for.

For example :

  • if you look for an open source office just type office and you’ll have the result filtered to Open Source projects.
  • if you look for a program equivalent in the Open Source world just type his name (photoshop, corel draw, project, …).