Why I prefer open source, above closed source software

You rather see a video on why I prefer open source? This video on “why to change from Windows to Linux” I recommend.

Since the early ’80-ties I am implementing information systems.  In 1983 I was a system adminstrator of a Philips 7000-minicomputer. This minicomputer looked like these pictures:  (found on retrospace.org).

I learned secretaries to operate work stations (as on the left). And I made back-ups every week. All data were stored on removable disks (as on the right). These disks were used in a grandfather-father-son rotation back-up-scheme. I still following this backup-method. Today with USB-keys. Much easier to handle!

Since 1983 I have been implementing all kind of financial and logistic systems. Mainly closed software (also referred to as proprietary software). Like: IBM-Copics, Mapics, Dun & Bradstreet, AMAPS, Grote Beer, King, Exact, Baan, Oracle-products, SAP R/2 and R/3, etc. etc.

Since 2006 I started to explore the added value of open source software. Starting to install Linux on Apple Macintoshes. (Not the most easy choice. I learned that Apple does includes a lot of protection to its hardware. So if you want to try Linux, install it on a computer which can run a Microsoft operating system. You encounter less incompatibilities.) I also started to orientate on different Content Management Systems  (CMS). A CMS facilitates the construction of websites. As there are a lot of open source projects one has to choose. So I concentrated for CMS on: Drupal (drupal.org/user/80418) and  WordPress. And for e-Learning on Moodle.
Using e.g.: Ubuntu as operating system, Inkscape to draw, GIMP to edit images, FileZilla for transfering files, PHPMyAdmin for administrating databases, OpenShot to edit video.

Today we can use our portable computers everywhere. Here you see my laptop computer in our kitchen (on the left). And my Linux UBUNTU 14.04-desktop (on the right). A lot of differences with minicomputers as on the B&W-pictures above. In 1983 it felt magic that we could exchange e-messages with other Philips-computers at local Philips-organisations in America, Africa, Asia etc.. A big difference is that today we can connect to many, many other computers, via internet. Possibilities have so much increased. So much more functionality. And I can sent messages to many places, in many ways. Other people can communicate with my computer, much easier. Also spammers and criminals do try. And they succeed. So among other issues, also security is an issue.

I prefer open source above closed source. Why? Short as open source is free. Free not as in free beer, but as in free speech. I see many advantages in open source. Just to address -only- two aspects:

  1. Reliability. One example: in general I’ve more confindence in open source Wikipedia as source of information, than closed sources.
  2. Security. In open source projects a large group of independ volunteers looking into security issues. At closed source software companies people with less independ ties (often they are paid by the company) have influence on security issues. The independency of open source environments, do give me more confidence of good care for security.

All aspects do have a relation with the fact that open source projects can have a hugh number of contributors. In general I believe in the strength of the big amount of people joining open source projects, with all kind of different opinons and interests. More than the often smaller groups of employees who working for closed source companies.

I feel the older I get, the more I realise how little I know. Well I know I have a preference for bigger, open group of people. With different insights. Personally I keep on thinking that our future is based on all the individual decisions we take. So if I have a choice between a Coca Cola and a local flemish brewed beer. I’ll choose for this beer. As I do not like to support the Coca Cola company. Thinking on Coca Cola I see a multi-national company which are is more efficient. And also more efficient to avoid to pay tax. I see Coca Cola’s efficient marketing. And I see the obesitas-problem. Therefore I have rarely chosen for a Coca Cola. And still it can be difficult. Local flemish brewed beer, can be part of a big enterprise. An enterprise where its stockholders are most important. And where earning money can be of bigger importance than producing good food. In the end I think it helps if we all try to chose good food. So personally I like to make my favorite recipe of backed rice : “nasi goreng” (on this blog I have the recipe in english, and french) with as much as possible local products. However the rice, cacahuètes, etc., I have them imported for me. But I try to add local carottes, cabbage, eggs, (a bit of!) porc, and …   …. flemish beer.

And in many cases open source is not a suitable solution. For example for a lot of financial and logistic applications made with closed source/proprietary software. Not easy, rather impossible to replace them by open source solutions. I can’t imagine how big organisations like factories, financial institutions replace just like that their enormous administrations towards open source solutions. For sure I see possibilities for open source solutions. It might be compared to changing the actual fossile energy systems towards less polluting ones. In a lot of occassions we can decide to take a bicycle, instead of a fossile energy driven car. But a society without fossile energy driven cars? That is a long way ahead.  So I promote: if you can choose for open source. Consider to do so.

A lot to reflect on. How to improve the added value of all these IT systems? I try to concentrate on a few things. Choosing for open source, when I have a choice. Plus trying to approve my capabilities to speak, read and write in French.  So to finish this blog post, my opinion en français :  Je préfère logiciel open source. Parce que c’est libre. Libre pas comme un bière en libre service (bière gratuits), mais comme en liberté d’expression.





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roel guldemond

I like improving added value of information systems. Or cycling. Either be in a garden.

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