Does the open source approach have any drawbacks?

The problems associated with open source are well documented by its opponents. Some of the most common include:

  • The non-centralised nature of open source development and distribution (limiting the chances of having someone to blame if things go wrong and introducing a degree of risk to the future development of individual applications).
  • The hidden costs that exist despite often non-existent acquisition costs (such as staff retraining).
  • The lack of easy-to-use tools and documentation and neglect of the importance of intuitive user interfaces.
  • The rapid pace of changes to open source software, arising from the huge base of contributing programmers.
  • The risk of Open Source software stagnating due to developer distraction or loss of motivation or resources.

Although in many circumstances persuasive, these criticisms are by no means applicable universally. Unsurprisingly, situations can be identified where either open source or proprietary alternatives would be the most appropriate choice.