Do you use Free-software for your business? What are the benefits?

With the many business and government organizations that now use open source software such as GNU/Linux, it’s becoming increasingly clear that price is not the only advantage of Free and Open source software (FOSS).

Rather, FOSS holds numerous other advantages for businesses, some of them even more valuable than the software’s low price

1. Better Security

In the proprietary world all products are closed from public view, so no one outside the companies that own them has the clue how many bugs they contain . Microsoft, for example, typically takes weeks /months to patch vulnerabilities . And there’s no way the limited set of developers and testers within those companies can test their products as well as the worldwide community constantly scrutinizing FOSS can. Good luck to all the businesses using it in the meantime! Bugs in open source software  tend to get fixed immediately .

2. High Quality

Just as there are countless developers and users working to improve the security of open source software, so are there just as many innovating new features and enhancements to those products.In general, open source software gets closest to what users want because those users can have a hand in making it so. It’s not a matter of the vendor giving users what it thinks they want–users and developers make what they want, and they make it well. At least one recent study has shown,  that technical superiority is typically the primary reason enterprises choose open source software.

3. Customization

Along similar lines, business users can hire developers to take a piece of open source software and tweak it to suit their needs. Since the code is open, it’s simply a matter of modifying it to add the functionality they want. Don’t try that with proprietary software!

4. Freedom & Flexibility

When businesses turn to open source software, they free themselves from the hard vendor lock-in that can afflict users of proprietary packages. Customers of such vendors are at the mercy of the vendor’s vision, requirements, dictates, prices, priorities and timetable, and that limits what they can do with the products they’re paying for.With FOSS, on the other hand, users are in control to make their own decisions and to do what they want with the software. They also have a worldwide community of developers and users at their disposal for help with that.

When your business uses proprietary software such as Windows and Office, you are on a treadmill that requires you to keep upgrading both software and hardware forever. Open source software, on the other hand, is typically much less resource-intensive, meaning that you can run it well even on older hardware. It’s up to you–not some vendor–to decide when it’s time to upgrade.

With closed source software, you have nothing but the vendor’s claims telling you that they’re keeping the software secure and adhering to standards, for example. It’s basically a leap of faith. The visibility of the code behind open source software, however, means you can see for yourself and be confident.

5. Support Options (Choose your support)

For businesses that want extra assurance, there are  paid support options at prices that still fall far below what most proprietary vendors will charge. Providers of commercial support for open source software tend to be more responsive, too, since support is where their revenue is focused.

6. Price

Between the purchase price of the software itself, the high cost of necessary virus protection, support charges, ongoing upgrade expenses and the costs associated with being locked in, proprietary software takes more out of your business than you probably even realize. With FOSS you can get better quality at a fraction of the price.

7. Try Before make decisions

If you’re considering using open source software, it will typically cost you nothing to try it out first. This is partly due to the software’s free price, and partly due to the existence of LiveCDs and Live USBs for many Linux distributions. No commitment required until you’re sure.

None of this is to say, of course, that your business should necessarily use open source software for everything. But with all the many benefits it holds, you’d be remiss not to consider it seriously.