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OpenSource Software: You get what you not pay for?

Posted by alexanderschunk on November 12, 2007 at 8:51 AM PST

OpenSource: A definition

To begin with my thesis i would like to provide a definition of opensoucre software since some people might have a different concept of it. Under OpenSource software i understand any software that is either released under the GPL and / or GPL equivalent license.

According to this definition most projects at this page and most of the Apache projects are opensource software.

I am not aware about how many Java opensoucre projects exist - i do develop one of my own at linalg.dev.java.net - but i think its not a small number compared to non opensoucre projects.

Thesis: OpenSource software is low-quality

A common opinion of many people is or seems to be that opensource software - as understood above - is bad or not you get what you pay for. I dont know how many of these people develop web applications but in the Java web domain there are many good or even great opensource libraries available that are easy to use and provide good productivity.

Also - if you visit some of the websites of apache projects - you will discover that opensource developers do care about information on releases, milestones, updates, bugs etc. Sometims it seems that people stating the opposite did never use a good opensource software. Sure there ís opensource software that does not provide these information but you can say the same for many high price software products.

I think most people stating this thesis have used some sort of GNU software - i dont say GNU software is bad - but using GNU software can really be a silly adventure. Yet i do believe that most opensource developers do have an idea of professional software development and since there is a growing competition among opensource software open source software developers too have to distinguish themselves from other products. So you wont "sell" your opensource software until you care about your customers needs and provide a little bit of basic information etc. that make possible users convince your product will help them in their daily work.

Anti-thesis: High price software is good

Now lets get back to the antithesis which runs: "High-Price software is good". Ok. How many people use Microsoft software and how many people would sign the thesis that all Microsoft software is worth the price paying for it? On the other hand. Compare the price of a Mac and what you get for it - oh ok, dont get me on the current Mac / Java story - but basically consider all the features and software you get for the price of a Mac - compared to MS Windows and their tools. Excellent.

And how many people would say that Microsoft user support is great! So, personally, i think that today it does not matter if a product is opensource software or not. The quality of a software does not necesseraliy depend on its license but it does mor and more depend on the people who develop it and on how they treat their users / customers needs.