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What is Open Source

Open source software, also known as OSS or FLOSS, consists of all programs that guarantee four fundamental rights to users:


  • Freedom to use the program with no restrictions.
  • Freedom to study a program's source code and adapt it to particular needs.
  • Freedom to redistribute the program.
  • Freedom to improve the program and publish any improvement.

To benefit from these four freedoms, you should have access to the source code.

The effect of these freedoms is that the program is usually distributed without charging a license fee.


How can my company benefit from open source software?

For starters, your company will benefit from a stable and secure program which can be adapted to your company's needs and improve over time. The stability and security come from the fact that the publication of the source code offers the possibility to revise and control the program, and the community of users and collaborators participate in the processes of improvement, adaptation and testing of the software. Additionally, the modification or adaptation rights come without any type of restriction from the manufacturer. Your business decides how much to invest at every moment.

Financially speaking, open source software saves money eliminating the need to pay any type of license fee. Typically, license fees are roughly one-third of an ERP implementation project cost for an SME. Thus, in comparison to proprietary software, you can take the 30% savings and dedicate it to resources that will allow you to customize your software to your needs. Additionally, you can do these customizations without having to contact the distributors of the software. This leaves you with the power to decide how much to invest at every step along the way. Lastly, with the source code securely in your hands, you have the option to switch suppliers at anytime without any problems.


If open source companies don't charge license fees, can they make money?

Most open source companies rely on a collaborative model for developing their software. Programmers throughout the world will join together to realize the tremendous power of working together for the mutual benefit of everyone. In addition to the wide array of experienced programmers brought into a project, this process also significantly lowers development costs.

As a result of this joint effort, products achieve a higher quality standard and companies can generate revenue through services for clients, such as support, implementation consulting and customization. Other companies charge for software versions that are more sophisticated or, in order to free the user from obligations of "copyleft", a "dual" license is used.


Does this really work? Are there successful open source companies?

Yes! Linux, an alternative to Microsoft's Windows operating system, is the most well-known open source solution. Linux has achieved global recognition and is widely used on servers throughout the world. The list of open source companies is quite extensive and includes databases, IT development tools, browsers (such as Firefox), and many more.


Does open source software only work with Linux?

Linux is an operating system and, without a doubt, one of the most popular free solutions. However, this only describes the nature of its license (the liberties granted to users) and does not imply any relation to a particular operating system. Openbravo, for example, works equally as well on Linux servers as it does on MS Windows servers. It's all up to you.


Would you like to know more?

Read the definition of free software written by the Free Software Foundation (FSF).

Read the definition of open source created by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).