Wednesday, February 06, 2008

OSS: I want my cake and eat it too.

When it comes to Open Source Software, I often get the impression that people want their cake and eat it too. The closing sentence of an email I got in the webmaster inbox really pulled my strings:

"The least the world expects of FOSS software, is to get well developed tools which can be comparable to Microsoft Visio & Project Professional etc for real and serious work."

Although I don't know what MS Visio and Project have to do with Eclipse, it appears that some folks expect OSS software you get for free to match all the ease-of-use, polish, security and functionality aspects of commercial software you pay money for. To me, it just does not (and can not) add up, and when choosing FOSS vs. commercial software there needs to be a compromise somewhere.

If you're using OSS because you're simply too cheap to buy a polished, packaged, perfectly symmetrical and well-documented, well-supported commercial solution, then get ready for some compromise. If you use OSS because you like the power, flexibility and the hands-on approach that OSS offers, and you don't mind investing some time in understanding the inner workings, then you deserve to save some money. Want your cake and eat it too? Buy an OSS-based commercial product, such as Novell's SuSE Linux Entreprise, IBM's RAD or Genuitec's MyEclipse -- but don't expect it to be free of charge.

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