I work for a fairly large company. More than 10,000 employees. And we use a lot of closed source software and I always ask them why don’t we use open source tools. They have every benefit and no downside that I can see. And, being in IT, I get a lot of chances to ask people who have clout in what we do actually use and buy. The amazing part is though that everyone ask always says, “I don’t know, I’d like to use [insert open source project here] as well.”
Well, I figured it out. It’s the users. People who don’t actually work on the computer are scared to death of open source. For the same stupid reasons Linux is not a popular desktop, open source tools have tough times in business.
Let me clarify something real fast though. I’m not talking about severs. It’s pretty hard these days to have UNIX servers without some open source code thrown in. And it’s hard not to find a major company without at least one UNIX server. We are moving to Linux for a lot of boxes though, that will be nice (don’t know what distro don’t ask). What kind of tools I am talking about though are things like Tora. An open source replacement for Toad. Or even MySQL. Have you ever looked at how much Oracle costs? If you haven’t you don’t want to know. And then are always the end user programs as well. For example I’m forced to use a horrible properitary tool to move code changes into testing with (I’m not allowed to put changes into production). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked, “Why not just SVN or Git.” The only decent answer I’ve ever got from that question was, “Because of Sarbanes and Oxley.” If you’re not familiar or not from America, that was the act put in place after Enron collapsed. Well, that excuse is swell to you realize it’s not a valid reason at all. What they’re looking for a paper trail. They want to be able to see who did what. What do they think logs are for? Seriously.
So, what about non-IT users. Well, they have no idea what they’re talking about 99% of the time as far as these things go. But they all still have a “If I don’t buy it from a massive company it must be virus infected and horrible” attitude. Which I guess I can understand. After all nothing in life is free. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “if it really is free odds are you don’t want it anyway.” What they don’t know though is that when it comes to software all of that is completely wrong!
So yeah. We use crappy programs at work because money = good software. If your a “end user” and you’re reading this, I’m here to tell you, you are wrong. The closed source proprietary programs we use at work are some of the worst designed pieces of software I’ve ever seen.
Enjoy the Penguins!