Is Open Source Easier Than Commercial Software?: Page 2

Both approaches have their strengths, yet the issue of support appears to tip the balance.
Posted January 11, 2012

Matt Hartley

(Page 2 of 2)

But the reality is that there are also open source software titles that are much better looking than their proprietary alternatives due to the control they offer. For example, lets compare Windows 7 to a popular Linux distribution. Windows 7 presents a pleasant enough looking desktop. As far as desktop computing goes, I’ve never had any complaints here. However, this desktop experience is very limited and locked down.

So while I can make minimal changes to the Windows desktop, Linux allows me to choose a completely different desktop altogether. I don't mean changing themes, I mean I can install KDE onto my Gnome desktop simply by using my package manager. At no time did I have to open a browser and download a ton of packages manually. This allows me to make the open source Linux desktop as ugly or attractive as I'd like it to be.

If you find the Windows 7 desktop to be ugly, you will not be able to make these sorts of changes without a LOT of searching on your favorite search engine. Therefore if you consider Windows 7 to be ugly, then you'll have to take some fairly radical steps to correct the issue. That is, unless a simple theme change is enough for you.

Open source doesn't make support difficult

With many proprietary applications, you may find that your support options are limited. Obviously, you may be able to find forums or how-to websites to help with specific issues. However, if you're looking for a company to provide you with authorized support for proprietary software, your options are likely to be limited to those approved by the original software vendor.

On the open source front, however, there are countless options available. Even if the developer of a particular software title ceases to update it, you can always hire someone else to pickup where the original developer left off.

This is the kind of support that really differentiates proprietary vs. open source software solutions. It's one thing to offer support on maintaining a software title, but keeping it up to date requires a completely different level of support. This is an area that I think open source software shines in. And because of this, the freedom to make open source software easier to use is always an option for those willing to support it.

And there we have it: clearly, open source software is just as usable as its proprietary counterparts. As a matter of fact, I believe that when you consider the ability to customize open source software at the developer level, any ease of use issues are a mere freelance development job away from being fixed.

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Tags: open source, enterprise software

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