Andrew Brown of the Guardian has a nice piece about why OpenOffice reveals some of the myths about Open Source. One that I mentioned in response to the BBC’s hype of Firefox (I use Firefox a lot so I am not being partisan) is the notion that users can fix thier own problems. For users who are not software developers this is nigh on impossible. Even for software developers this can be hard. And most open source projects have a high churn rate of developer interest. Yet it is touted as a key open source benefit.
Now I have contributed to open source projects (NUnitForms) and use open source projects (Nant, NUnit, NMock, Cruise Control, TestDriven.NET, NHibernate to name but a few), and think they work well in certain spaces butIMO a lot of the ideology around open source doesn’t hold up to scrutiny.
Open Source’s one major and recurring benefit is price. It’s free to obtain (though not always to use). Mostly everything else is window-dressing this fundamental benefit.