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My view on proprietary vs opensource software

Written by Alcides Fonseca at 1191444151

Everyone knows I’m not a fundamentalist and I’ve been contributing to Opensource. I believe both OpenSource and Proprietary Software should co-exist. However I do not believe in Free Software (as described by Richard Stallman), he thinks all software should provide the users the freedom to use it, to edit it and to share it.

Well, let’s imagine I own a software house and I make this applications with this incredible algorithm. I spent one year paying for developers to study and come up with my product. I would want to make it profitable, so I have to sell it as a closed-source product. If someone needs this special feature, or improvement, I would be happily to sell a special version to them. That’s the way of making enough money to cover for the investment. If I had released it in opensource, I could have saved 75% of the time with external help from other programmers, but I wouldn’t make enough money, because some other company that had better implementation in the market would sell the service of setting up my application, and custom modifications. I wouldn’t like that.

Let’s make this analogy: when you go to the restaurant, you pay for the meal you have. Let’s imagine ti was a OpenSource Restaurant. You would choose from the menu, enter in the kitchen, see them cooking your meal, change the ingredients if you want. You might want to chop something for yourself, for example. You would pay just for the time it took for the cookers to prepare it, eat and take the recipe with you back home. Well this doesn’t happen. If this fancy restaurant has this fabulous dish and it’s the reason everyone goes there, they wouldn’t share the recipe with no other restaurant. Same happens with software code.

However I do believe in OpenSource in some situations: In education, mainly in the informatics field: you need to know how some kind of software works, and OpenSource gives you that power, which is very important when you are learning something that program has. And if OpenSource software exists already, why not use it? It’s a good deal software for free.

But if you demand a good support, you should think twice. Imagine a program that does something very specific this one guy has ever coded, and only a bunch of people use it. You need it for your enterprise, and you install it. Well if it has a bug and the developer has retired or has this awesome job and don’t care about it anymore? Hiring a company to guarantee the software quality wouldn’t sound so bad after all.

Another example where Free Software might probably fail: games. If games were opensource, the best players would be programmers that read the code (or change it) and hack into it, not those with gaming skills. The good thing about games is the difficulty it has to go to the next level. If it’s as easy as to change one number in the source code, It would not be fun as it is. But what about game platforms, they can be opensource right?

Yes, I believe opensource platforms are better than closed ones, because they allow people who program on top of it to know how it works better and use it’s full potential. Guess what, seems like Microsoft thought the same and they are sharing .NET source code!

Well this is my opinion on this issue, and I’m glad Microsoft is thinking in the same way. It makes me really happy about going tomorrow to the Microsoft Student Partner Program Launch Event as one of them :)