There aren't too many people these days who don't know about open sourcing. As open source projects like Linux, Firefox, and Wikipedia grow, more and more people begin to learn about how open sourcing can change the world. However, as this population grows so does the misconceptions about open sourcing itself. To combat ignorance and for the overall betterment of the intelligential community, the following are ten open sourcing myths debunked.
Myth #1: Open Sourcing is a hobby
Due to its humble beginnings many believe that open sourcing is simply a geeky hobby that hackers work on during the weekend between gaming and D&D quests. This cannot be farther from the truth. Actually open sourcing, for many, is a career, and for others a lifestyle.
This myth stems from a smaller truth. Many people do in fact work on open source projects as a hobby. Others tweak existing open source projects for fun. However, most of the pioneers in the open sourcing movement are doing it as a profession. For example, Mozilla's web browser "Firefox", and offshoot of Netscape, is a big money maker for the Mozilla corporation and its developers make good money constantly cranking out new releases.
Myth #2: No one uses stuff that is open sourced
Since most open sourced projects don't run around with a banner screaming "I AM OPEN SOURCED" many do not realize that there is so much software out there which is actually open sourced. Because of this people assume that open source projects are small and underutilized by the general public. This, I'm please to say, is simply a myth.
In fact, millions of people use open source software whether they know it or not. For example, Linux, an open sourced operating system, is one of the fastest growing operating systems available. While Apple and Microsoft face off across the board Linux quietly grows in popularity and user-base. In fact, most estimate that there are over 30 million Linux users out there. Additionally, this is not just the case for Linux, with Firefox winning the browser wars, and other open source projects taking off the number of people in the world that use open sourced software, programs, and services is unimaginable.
Myth #3: Open Source is less than Closed Source
I loathe this line of thinking the most. People believe that open source software is worse than the closed source counterpart just because it is less main stream. For instance, Microsoft Word is the standard for businesses so it has to be better right? WRONG! The open source counterpart OpenOffice is just as powerful if not more so, not to mention it's free. OpenOffice is simply a reversed-engineered open source version of Microsoft Word, add that to the fact that developers can adjust OpenOffice to make it a better product and you soon realize that the in this case the open sourcing wins out.
Though it is true that some times the open source version of a project is lesser known than the proprietary version that does not make it second rate. Many open source projects are way ahead of the curve in their respective fields and cannot be blamed for mankind's resistance to change.
Moreover, I would like to interject a small note here. I am not trying to suggest that every open source version of a piece of software or product is better. For example, Adobe's Photoshop is far superior to the open source replacement Gimp. Sometimes the proprietary version is the best, it just works out that way. However, this is not the case 100 percent of the time, so just don't judge a book by its cover.
Myth #4: Open Sourcing Hates Corporations
The open source movement stands behind an amazing philosophy which keeps in mind the free exchange of ideas. Often people believe that offering a free version of something is open source's way of sticking it to the man. People believe that open source developers just want to lash out at big corporations who hoard money by selling shotty goods and services. Well, while this is probably true, it is not always the case.
The open source movement is not on a rampaging mission to screw over corporations. Instead, it is a movement to allow for the free flow of ideas and information. Some times corporations themselves, like Mozilla and Netscape, produce open source products. Some times open source corporations can be just as, if not more, competitive as proprietary corporations.
However, the tipping point in which proprietary corporations fall to open sourcing is in the philosophy. People from both camps may be looking for an easy way to earn money, but at least the open source camp has a noble philosophy in its origins. That philosophy makes things like the One Laptop Per Child project a reality. It is that same philosophy which enables open sourcing groups to leap over proprietary groups.
Myth #5: Open Sourcing Relates to Computers Only
Alright, this one I can understand. Open sourcing has its roots in the world of electronics so many people believe that all open sourcing relates to computers. Actually, any product that lets people know its original source and opens it up for change under creative commons is considered open source. For example, there is an open source beer on the market. The open sourcing movement may deal primarily in software, but is not its only outlet.
What's another open source myth? Post a comment and let me know!