Which is Better: Closed or Open Source Systems?

bits-code-0-1There are few tech debates that have lasted longer without a satisfactory resolution than the debate over whether open or closed source software is ideal.

Open-Source Programs Have More Developers

Advocates of open source software point out how a multitude of collaborators can work together to improve the product. Many open-source programs have programmers creating plugins for it which can be chosen at whim by computer users.

When there are no restrictions on who can create plugins, the number of plugins can grow exponentially.

Bugs and Usability Issues

Unfortunately, many of these plugins may have bugs that weren’t discovered by the original programmer. It is up to the programmer to fix these bugs and many programmers do not.

These plugins also need to be updated whenever a new version of the program is released. Failing to update a plugin can cause incompatibility issues and crashes.

Some users might choose to use older versions of the software that are still compatible with favorite plugins. However, these older versions can be unstable and full of security vulnerabilities.

Overall, these problems can worsen the user experience, which can lead to users blaming the program itself rather than the plugins.

Closed-source program advocates believe that they can improve the user experience by controlling the features that are available to their program. By doing so, users are less likely to experience glitches and incompatibilities.

However, it is unclear whether open or closed source developers have more of an incentive to fix bugs.

Security Concerns

Software programs almost always have software vulnerabilities that can be exploited by hackers. With closed source programs, hackers do not have easy access to the code and are less able to find security vulnerabilities.

Therefore, open-source advocates point out that their software programs are harder to exploit. However, open-source advocates point out that there are also more programmers who will be able to identify vulnerabilities and develop patches for them.

Closed-Source Programs are More Concerned with Vulnerability

With open-source programs, virtually anyone can write a plugin. Many programmers write plugins for themselves and then decide to release it for download. While some programmers ask for donations or even charge money for their plugins, most programmers make very little money. As a result, they have much less of an incentive to create usable plugins than companies that sell their software to the general consumer to make a profit.

Still, programmers also have an incentive to make the software usable. They usually depend on the software and want it to be easy for them to use. There are plenty of open-source software programs that are highly usable, including WordPress and Mozilla Firefox.

Cost

For some users, open source software is generally preferable because it is generally free. Instead of having paid teams of software developers, most open-source programs have volunteer programmers who work together over the Internet. Since this dramatically brings down the cost of developing the software, most open-software projects are supported through donations.

Given that open-source programs lack the legal protections that closed-source programs have, they are much less likely to make a meaningful profit. With closed-source software, only the copyright holder can create, modify and distribute the software.

However, with open-source, anyone can distribute the software for free. Since developers of open-source software can have a difficult time making a profit, they might cease to support the program abruptly.

About the author: This article was composed by Ty Whitworth for the team at Kanetix; they can help you take advantage of various financial opportunities

Photo credit: dermiller

 

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Comments

  1. Open source is the best because its free. 😀

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