03 September 2009

Open Source Discussion in Swiss Government

In the last few month there were several discussions about open source usage in government or educational sector in Switzerland. Even the parliament is discussion about that topic.
My question in this debate is if the parliamentarians now what open source really means?!

A lot of people think that first of all open source software is free respectively that closed source software isn't free of charge. But both expectations are wrong!

If we have a look at the Java EE application server market we see that some vendors like JBoss or Sun have open source licenses but if compare them the whole package with support, patches etc. with vendors with closed source licenses there is sometimes not a big difference between these two.
That's an important fact, because if you have problems with the product in production you are dependent on patches from the vendor. And you wont get these if you don't pay for it!

As a conclusion if you are just a user of the software and are not able to change or even read the code, there is no difference between open and closed software.

Don't get me wrong, because I'm a big fan of open source and collaborate in several open source projects but keep my argument in mind if you discuss with "non IT people".

Your opinion is highly appreciated.


Roman Bertolami hat gesagt…

If you get open source software you have at least the possibility to get to know what the software actually does, what information it sends to whom, etc. If I think about our government using software that does not allow for this, and that might be controlled by other governments, I am getting a little bit scared. Probably this is a theoretical point, but in my opinion worth thinking about it.

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