Why I love free software

There are so many points of view both for and against open source software, and I’m definitely in the ‘for’ camp. I could spout all the usual party lines regarding the ability to check code for security flaws, free speech vs. free beer, etc, but why do I like open source software? (Incidentally, I haven’t noticed hackers and analysts having much trouble scrutinising closed source code for security flaws. e.g. Windows :mrgreen:)

I love the fact that I can solve my own problems, and then submit the fixes back to the developers … and actually have them pay attention! And I don’t mean this in just a theoretical sense; this is something I actually do.

In my professional career as an “I.T. Systems Engineer” I have to diagnose faults with an amazing variety of big budget, closed source software. Once I have determined the solution (and occaisionally actually created patches or other code fixes), I find that the vendor has absolutely no interest in actually fixing the product and completely ignores any suggestions or solutions. (The conspiracy theorist in me says it’s because they make so much more money out of their premium support services)

No so with the open source projects I have participated in. For starters, it’s so much easier to diagnose issues when you can see the actual code, tinker with its innards, re-compile, etc. Once you have a solution, it’s normally a very simple task to submit changes, patches, documentation, and fault reproduction procedures back to the developers. Who more often than not are completely under-paid – if they are paid at all! The best bit comes next … the developers take your patches, integrate them into the product …and … say “Thank you” ❗

This is sooo different from my daily professional grind. It’s so fulfilling I have to gush 😀 😉 The best response I get from a vendor in my professional life is to be ignored. The worst was when I actually got accused of revealing trade secrets … serves me right for trying to do good 😐

I’m probably spoilt a little by working with the WordPress folks: they are really on the ball, and patches are often vetted, approved and applied within minutes! Unfortunately the only changeset that I have attibution on is one for a typo.. 😳

Hmm this post is a little dis-jointed, mostly due to it being written in several quick sessions over the last few days.

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