The open source software is something what is used probably by the most of computer users these days. Nobody can say for sure he hasn’t used any open source software ever. Operating systems, web browsers, e-mail clients, graphic software, multimedia players, office software, web applications and many others you can find as the open source on the web. And that’s not just the software used by a few users, there are the tens of millions of the users all over the world using the open source everyday. Just to support our words with some facts here’s a short list of highly popular open source software:
Web browsers: Firefox
E-mail clients: Thunderbird
Graphics software: GIMP
Multimedia players: VLC
Office software: OpenOffice.org
Web applications: phpBB, WordPress, Drupal, Joomla
The software from the list above you can confront against the next 5 myths about the open source. And you can decide yourself if any of the 5 myths is generally true for all open source software.
Well, can you say about any of the software above it’s useless?
Just take the Ubuntu what is a great operating system used by millions of people which want the free OS and also the useful OS. Millions of users wouldn’t be using even the free OS which is really useless. That’s not worth it, if they would have always to repair something or customize most of the time.
On the other hand nobody say that free open source is better than the expensive proprietary software. GIMP probably wouldn’t be the best choice for professional graphic (graphic designers’ number one is Photoshop), but it’s great for the most users who occasionally just need to create or edit some image.
The same could be said about the OpenOffice.org what is a great open source package of the office applications. It is compatible with the most proprietary file formats like Microsoft’s *.doc, *.docx, *.ppt or *.xls. That means you can read and create your documents using the OpenOffice.org and save them to some of the Microsoft’s file formats if you know your file is intended for people using the Microsoft Office.
Sure the GUI isn’t near like the Office 2007 or 2010, but the applications can do everything what you would have expected. If you don’t want to buy any Office applications you should definitely try OpenOffice.org and use it for free.
Well, not more than the commercial software. The topic about the OS security have been covered many years mostly about the differences between the Windows and Linux. The first thing what can we say is that a lot of depends about the number of users of any OS. It’s always better for hackers to have exploits for the most used software than for software used just by “a few people”. And the second fact is that if Windows use one hundred times more users than Linux there’s also probably a lot more hackers what understand Windows’ architecture and the software programmed for this OS. And that’s why there are more vulnerabilities discovered.
Generally the open source is sometimes considered to be unsecure because the source code is available to everyone. No doubt it’s far easier to read the code in high level language (like C++ or Delphi), but Assembler is also very convenient and as you can see there are also a lot of vulnerabilities discovered in the proprietary closed-source software.
If somebody says Linux is secure because it’s open source that’s also not true. Why the open source should help the software to be secure? What they say that everybody can fix the vulnerability yourself is true, but how many people can do and really do that? Often it’s just one (if any) unofficial patch from somebody until the official one comes, but that’s not the way the thousands of people are creating their own patch to fix the vulnerability. The second fact says that the vulnerability have to be publicly disclosed to be fixed. And just a small number of all discovered vulnerabilities is disclosed and it doesn’t matter if it’s in open source or proprietary software.
But generally there’s a high pressure for the commercial software vendors to release the patches faster. If there are a lot of open source software vendors what can release working patches in the hours or days after the vulnerability is discovered why wouldn’t do so the commercial software vendors? However, in the most cases there are issued at least the workarounds for the discovered vulnerabilities.
Secure software is the software which is written in a secure way. No open source or closed source application can be marked as a secure or unsecure just because of it’s source code (un)availability. And the security issues are common in the most of the open so as closed source applications. Saying the closed source is more secure is just security through obscurity.
4. Hard to maintain/no support
That’s not the case for Ubuntu. Canonical is providing the commercial support for this OS. But did you ever try Microsoft’s Windows support? The most time you probably just look for the answer on the web, where you can find the answer. And there’s nothing why you shouldn’t act the same with some Linux distribution.
There are also the books about the many of the open source software just like about the commercial software. So if you want you can buy one and learn how to use and maintain the specific application or operating system. You have to learn how to use any software, proprietary or open source.
The same answer is for any free open source software. You can find the support on its dedicated discussion boards or using Google. So don’t be afraid of using any open source it’s not a piece of a software what can be used just by highly experienced computer users. It’s created for people who want the great and easy software for free and don’t want to steal it. The number of such users is counting everyday.
5. Difficult GUI
Yes, for the people using some other OS for years it’s probably a problem if they want to start with Linux, but not because of difficult GUI. That’s all because of the habits. If you don’t believe try to ask some friend which is using the Linux if he consider its GUI to be difficult? There can’t be the same GUI as the one in the Windows mostly because of the patents.
Another point is that there are many users strongly focused on proprietary software (they say – easy to use, great GUI), but as the web browser they use the Firefox. That’s maybe just the only one open source desktop application they have ever used, but did they considered it like the application with difficult GUI? Probably not.
The most software (open and closed source) is created in the usual manners where is a menu in the top of the window and below it is a toolbar. Honestly, it’s harder for programmers to create the GUI with all that bells and whistles so don’t be afraid of such a software which is for free .
Just the myths…
We consider all of these five points we have discussed here are just the myths about the open source. Even if it was true sometimes in the past, it’s definitely not true today. Even the commercial software vendors are creating the drivers or software applications for open source operating systems and many of the open source applications belong to the respected software inventory all over the world. If you know any other open source myth write your comment below.