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Why companies open source: debunking a myth

Open source offers the kind of flexibility in terms of installation and licensing that some proprietary software users can only dream of. Open source solutions, more often than not, come with a whole array of software which can be used out of the box, and comes with the added bonus of not having to face the Chief Financial Officer.

The LAMP (Linux operating system, Apache web server, MySQL database and Perl scripting language) bundle, for example, is just one of hundreds turnkey solutions, based on open source, that exist out there. Sourceforge.net is where one heads to find them.

You are free to do what you want to with open source software. You are allowed to modify whatever part you want and, of course, you can get people to help you, either free or paid.

Post your feedback and, if the open source package you are working on is popular enough, swarms of individuals will post updates or comments. Customisation (and the freedom to do so) is one of the top reasons why open source is such a winner with corporate firms.

This flexibility was highlighted in a report (opens in new tab) by analysts, IDC in 2005. Surprisingly, the freedom that comes with open source licenses was cited by companies as the main reason for open source deployment, debunking the established view that companies only look to open source because it is perceived as cheap.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.