Is It Time to Switch to Open-Source Software?

August 2005
by Reid Goldsborough

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The personal computer
revolution is all about freedom of choice, but, ironically, software companies
typically try to control what you do. You don’t buy a program, you license it.
You can use it on only one computer or on a specified number of computers. You
can’t modify its source code.

As a reaction to this, the
open-source software movement came into existence in the late 1990s, with roots
that go back to the hacker culture of the 1960s. Open-source software is
developed and improved by users with programming skills, who then share their
contributions with anyone interested.

Open-source programs are typically
free, although some carry fees and come with technical support. It’s a
revolutionary concept in product development, based on cooperation rather than
competition. Open source positively smacks of socialist utopianism.

Should you or your business
consider it?

Bernard Golden thinks so. He’s the
author of Succeeding
with Open Source, recently published by Addison-Wesley. The book
is a how-to guide for organizations that want to move away from high-cost
commercial software.

Golden is also CEO of Navica Inc.
(www.navicasoft.com),
a consulting firm in San Carlos, CA, that helps organizations migrate to
open-source platforms. Depending on your tim

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