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The Benefits of Free/Libre/Open-Source Software
We use and develop Free-Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) for all of our work, our AGM held on 14th June 2012 agreed the following resolution:
All software artefacts that the co-operative produces to be licensed under a FSF approved license.
We use and develop free/libre/open-source software in all of our work and have set-out some of the benefits below:
Benefits for Purchasers #
The most obvious beneficiary of the FLOSS model is the immediate purchaser of the software. Freedom to modify and distribute software, without pre-conditions, liberates organisational forward-planning and expenditure decisions.
The freedom to contract support and continuing development from multiple suppliers prevents the ‘vendor lock-in’ syndrome; this is where the original supplier leverages the customer’s lack of options for vital upgrades and bugfixes to secure a continued income stream.
All software development is at the mercy of the developer’s release schedules and internal priorities; smaller organisations find that they have little or no influence over the evolution of software developed by larger companies. FLOSS allows smaller organisations to develop their own extensions to suit their needs.
Benefits for Content Owners #
Software handles data and information; content owners and creators need stable platforms and Open Standards that will outlast the initial commission/development stages of a project. Software that is required to access important information needs to have a lifetime longer than the typical lifespan of a Software Publisher. FLOSS guarantees that the software can live as long as the data.
Benefits for Software Developers #
Only some of the benefits of the FLOSS model accrue to the developers. Importantly, the availability of existing high quality FLOSS code libraries and tools allows the developer to concentrate on innovation rather than reinventing the wheel all the time. Consequently, a greater proportion of developer resources is spent on design and quality issues.
By freeing the product, small developers can compete with larger suppliers. There is much less risk involved in a FLOSS purchasing decision, as the prospect of the continued existence of the original supplier is not critical to long-term success.
Benefits for End-Users #
The FLOSS model typically allows much more interaction with the software itself. Since the software is self-documenting, problems can be dealt with when encountered by technically minded users (or by users with technically minded friends). Closed Source models leave users with just three options for self-help: Retry, Reboot and Reinstall.
Benefits for Security #
It’s difficult to quantify the apparent lead of FLOSS in the field of security and stability; after all, quality workmanship is the same all-over, there is no reason to suppose that FLOSS programmers are intrinsically more talented. However, there is evidence that the free exposure of code to a wider community encourages mutual criticism and allows best practices to come to the foreground.
Benefits for Growth #
By sharing and communicating with the wider FLOSS community, developers form networks of expertise. These pockets of high-tech industry are extremely fluid and adaptable. The rapid development of the FLOSS industries and associated skills is a sign of huge growth potential in this segment of the economy.