Saturday, May 29, 2010

Open Source and the free model: Are they sustainable?

I’ve been looking at Open source and free offerings recently and pondering these models. Many questions such as; Are they sustainable, are these models really free in the long run and; can I actually use Open source and free software as the backbone of my information management processes that support my business system?


OK, so if I use Open office, Xmind, Nitro pdf reader and/or integrate my work with Google mail and docs; hmm, this really got me thinking; will this really work for me?

Well here the thing; it might work, and this really kills me to say this. I actually used Open source and free software for one week during March 2010. And as much as I now need therapy because of my willful experiment, I have come to realize it might actually be doable at a stretch.

Now if you’re one of my consultant/facilitator colleagues and/or commercial software developer friends; forgive me?

I now use Google mail and IMO the more professionally polished GMX mail as my primary mail clients; MS Outlook has IMO become rather obsolete to my needs.

As a professional Visual mapper during the experiment, I used Xmind to challenge my perceived negative view of open source and free. Admittedly it worked for me to a point; there’s some functions that power Visual mappers just don’t have available in the open source and free models, so this is the downfall.

As an interesting addition; I also used The Gimp as my open source alternative to my regular use of Photoshop (yes I am a PS addict), and this worked really well too.

As much as this has been my personal experiment; I am now back to being my regular reliant self on the commercial models; "I am a realist after all". This certainly has changed me though, and I am now more aware of the open source and free alternatives.

I won’t blab on here, but it was a very interesting personal experiment. The CAVEAT of my experience to date; if you choose to conduct the same experiment, be aware of many pitfalls and the surprising epiphanies also.

As a close colleague recently pointed out to me; there's a notable difference between the Open Source and Free models. The question remains though; will these models remain Open Source and Free in the long term?

Have you tried this experiment also? What did you experience and what are your conclusions?

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