Drawbacks of Open Sources had the intention of being informative and providing a persuasive argument, however at times it lacked the credibility that a white paper requires. One of the main aspects that needs improvement, and prevents it from appearing to be a credible white paper, is the usage of personal pronouns. The author uses “I and me” several times in areas where his opinion does not need to be stated. In order to make this a white paper that people can rely, this issue needs to be addressed. This paper does apply to the audience reading it. The concept of open sourcing is relatively new and being introduced to different companies. With that being said, this idea would help people going into the workforce and companies looking to develop new concepts. Going back to the corrections targeting a specific audience is something else that this paper needs to have improved. The document overall, needs to have a professional style in order to make it a successful white paper and target the correct audience. It is obvious that the author has a specific audience in mind, he needs to address specific sources and correct grammar in order to complete this process. There were five sources sighted at the end of “Open Source Software: The Drawbacks”. Each one was used at least one time. Most of the cited materials were used in the section entitled “Common Problems with Open Source”. While this information was used to back up the drawbacks and problems mentioned in the white paper, the resources could have also been used within other sections. Citing sources more often would have made this paper more credible in itself. As the paper progressed, more sources were utilized by the writer, and they were used effectively to back a point or emphasize one. All of the resources were looked up on the works cited page and most of them were attached to a company’s or consulting firm’s website. The websites’ homepages were examined to get a feel for where the articles were coming from. One source was from techsoup.org, a fairly prominent resource non-profit businesses and organizations. I am not familiar with any of these companies, but they were all companies that would utilize Open Source Software or be affected by the software. For instance, one source was from Avolio Consulting; this firm work with computer and network security. Also, the writer obtained his sources from a wide variety of places including a European company that has analyzed and researched the free software phenomenon. While most sources seemed credible to me, I felt that some of them might not be as credible as they should be. Some of the sources contained misspellings and poor grammar, which can leave a bad first impression no matter what type of document it is. No references were listed for most; and one website could not be accessed at the time. The credibility of these resources could be questioned based on these finding. I wish that I knew more about the industry so that I could have a better idea of the credibility of my findings. Overall, the sources were utilized correctly and came from decent places based on my basic knowledge of Open Source.
The white paper could use a few more resources to cite from—just to make it sound more credible and factual and less like one person’s opinion. Here’s some that might be helpful: --http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue9_4/levesque/index.html (First Monday is a peer reviewed journal that is solely devoted to the internet) http://www.linuxpipeline.com/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=17200397 (from Linux Pipeline—talks about legal issues involving open source software and its penetration into businesses) The organization of this white paper overall was good. The topics were well labeled and the paragraph explained intended topics well. One change would be not indenting for every new paragraph but leaving spaces instead so that everything is aligned to the left. It would make the paper appear more professional. The voice and style was consistent throughout the entire paper. The paper flowed well from topic to topic. The author was writing to an audience who may not know much about open source. All of the main ideas were clearly explained and there was nothing too technical. The clarity of this paper was good throughout, although there are several areas that could use improvement. One of these areas was in the summary when the author states that the producers of open source are not responsible. This can be taken in several different ways. It should be explained more as far as what they are not responsible for so that readers don’t interpret it to mean that they are irresponsible. Another area that needs some clarifying is when the author states that he has done research and provided a watch list for readers. It took a minute to realize that he had not actually created a list at all, but he was referring to the white paper as a whole.
Revised White Paper
Open Source Software: The Drawbacks
Open Source is becoming more and more known in today’s society. Although Open Source has benefits, it also has its drawbacks. Since Open Source Programs are generated by people interested in a certain project, there are many uncertainties for such projects, such as compatibility and knowledgeable personnel. New users are skeptical about how trustworthy open source can be, since the creators are not responsible for the end product. Customer service with open source is still underdeveloped and most users find it troublesome with troubleshooting their own problems. I will further discuss how these drawbacks relate to Open Source operating systems and the outcome they may have for the future of Open Source Software.
Many people today still are unaware of exactly what Open Source is and what it can do for the user. Open Source Software is an increasingly common practice not only for personal use but business use as well. Although Open Source is still at its early stages, over the past few years the software has been modified to accommodate its users. Open Source is not just a type of computer, but a community in which ideas and code are shared with its members. Looking at “closed” programs like Microsoft, Open Source provides an alternative to this type of limited software. Users in these communities have access to the code and can share, modify, and change the code at their wishes. With this
type of sharing and changing of the codes, come many doubts of its usefulness. Although most users modify the code to meet their specific needs, Open Source still has its fair share of faults. With programs like Microsoft comes customer support, that Open Source Software can simply not accommodate to all of its users. Open Source is aimed at software developers/ “Computer Geeks,” so as you can see there will be common user problems. I have done research that will recognize common problems with Open Source and provide a reliable resource for common problems of Open Source Software.
Common Problems with Open Source
Although Open Source has its benefits, it also drags behind its fair share of problems. When people decide to buy a product, trust plays a vital role in each specific purchase. It is not uncommon for companies involved in security or banking to oppose Open Source, which has been manipulated by hundreds of “faceless” composers (Avolio 2). Since Open Source moves down a type of “food chain,” various developers are able to make adjustments and post their work at their will. These developers are not necessarily wellknown and therefore sometimes they can not be completely trusted. Users who aren’t familiar with Open Source code find it difficult to recognize Trojan Horses or hidden problems.
Since Open Source is only able to provide a limited amount of customer support, users find it difficult to migrate from one program to another. With proprietary software such as Microsoft, the user receives specific customer support of the software. Open Source however in most circumstances is unable to provide such benefits. This can be due to
several reasons. First, Open Source is primarily aimed at developers and not end users (Webb 2). Open Source code is complicated to comprehend for the typical user. This in turn causes businesses who have switched to Open Source employ several technical specialists. Also Open Source is developed by people who are interested in particular projects, which makes no specific individual responsible or liable for their work (“Open Source Disadvantages” 1). Each developer creates a program and can distribute the program at their wishes. Open Source can be referred to as “use at your own risk” software. These problems are all related to the infancy stage of Open Source. This software has not matured and still has many kinks that need to be worked out (Mezher 3). As time progresses one can only imagine how Open Source will grow.
Compatibility of Open Source with the current software is another major hurdle for the users (Webb 2). This software is not just a simple download or inserting of the disc, it requires a generous amount of knowledge in the specific area. To completely convert a Windows system to Open Source operating systems can be extremely difficult and challenging. In some circumstances specific computers or other programs will not work with other Open Source programs. With this said, an increasingly amount of organizations are requiring that each party’s software is compatible with their current software. This requires that businesses will have to migrate towards their provider’s software. It is not uncommon to find that older more universal machines will work better with Open Source. Since there are many unpredictable problems with migration to new software, this process can tend to get expensive (Mezher 4).
Also most organizations, who favor Open Source, do not have the personnel and/or resource to constantly search for errors and Trojan horses (Avolio 1). With its limited customer support, Open Source users must hire and train software engineers who are familiar with the software. This plagues the organization with another hefty expense not only to employ, but to train the personnel as well.
Since most Open Source works on the platforms that the developers have, there will always be unique requirements to overcome (Avolio 2). Developers design programs that specifically work for them and on their computer system. For example, a Dell computer may not work the same as a Gateway as far as Open Source is concerned. In some circumstances there may be small glitches that one will encounter with different computer systems. This refers back to the problem that organizations will have to employ people to carry out and fix selected problems.
The question to be asked when deciding to migrate towards Open Source: Do the challenges outweigh the results? In most circumstances the answer may not always be what you had originally planned. An interested user must devote a lot of time and effort to research to fully understand what their goals are and if Open Source can alleviate some of the problems encountered with their current software (Gonzalez-Barahona 2).
The Future of Open Source
Open Source truly depends on the specific needs of each organization. Microsoft was able to thrive for the past several years due to the specific customer support. All
customers can sleep easier at night, when they know help is just a phone call away. Since Open Source is still in its infancy stage, several changes are occurring to Open Software. Perhaps there is a niche company that can provide support for various common Open Source Software, which in turn could have a major effect on the monopolized Microsoft. The bottom line still remains that each company needs its own specific software to carry out its vision. Significant consideration should be given to any technology change in each business. Some entrepreneurs may follow the, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” policy and others may invest money and time to try to accomplish their specific goals that Open Source may or may not be able to overcome.
Open Source may look to have several drawbacks, but there are in fact some benefits. Many people, including myself, like to know that if they have a problem we can simply make a phone call and the problem can be diagnosed and fixed. Open Source is in the beginning steps of adoption. I’m sure when Bill Gates started Microsoft; he started out like an open source program developer. Open Source might not be the way to go at this very moment, due to the reasons listed above. It is just simply a matter of time until another Microsoft is born out of an Open Source program and a Computer Science entrepreneur becomes very wealthy.
As with the beginning of any business, Open Source is experiencing its fair share of problems. Trust and loyalty take time to build up for the customer to switch operating
systems. Businesses must invest a significant amount of time and money to have Open Software work for them. Detailed research must be done to determine the benefits and outcomes if one decides to migrate to Open Software. Time will only tell if Open Source will survive in the current market of today’s technology craze.
Avolio, Fred. “Benefits and Drawbacks of Open Source for Security Solutions.” 2005. Avolio Consulting, Inc. 25 Feb. 2005 <http://www.avolio.com/columns/opensource.html>. Gonzalez-Barahona, Jesus. “ Perceived Disadvantages of Open Source Models.” 24 Apr. 2000. Libre Software. 25 Feb. 2005 <http://eu.conecta.it/paper/Perceived_disadvantages_ope.html>. Mezher, Dani. “Open Source, Pros and Cons.” Professional Computer Association of America. 23 Sept. 2004 <http://www.pca.org.lb/docs/dany%20mezher%20(5).ppt>. “Open Source Disadvantages.” 2 Aug 2003. University of Wisconsin. 25 Feb. 2005 <http://atswindev.doit.wisc.edu:8000/itcert/32>. Webb, Marnie. “Going With Open Source Software.” 25 Jul. 2001. The Technology Place for Nonprofits. 25 Feb. 2005 <http://www.techsoup.org/howto/articlepage.cfm?ArticleId=314&topicid=2>.