I’m not so much of an open source freakiod that to advocate its use, regardless of the implicit costs of consumption. Such costs can include, often:
- Needing to self-seek knowledge about updates
- Compiling software oneself
- The lack of a clearly defined resource/help center with some kind of pay-for-access model
- Dealing with the singular sort of people who are open source freakoids
So we need to recognize the drawbacks to open source software use. I hope I have summarized them quickly and reasonably.
There are also numerous benefits to using FOSS, or Free and Open Source Software, projects — even if you’re not used to editing or compiling code, and/or don’t want to. And by the word “benefit”, I mean direct, actionable increases in likely productivity, as a result of using an open source project vs. proprietary software.
But, why do I claim these exist, and what benefits exactly do I mean?
In general, it’s fair to say of products either designed as open source, or those adapted into the open source community, that open source projects by intention allow for modification by individual users. This happens either (naturally) on the code level, or by creating internal APIs (I’m thinking of the WordPress API) / enabling modular development.
And also, moreover, these programs tend to enable users to make extensive configuration changes within a text file located somewhere within the directory structure or home directory which substantively change the behavior of the software itself; or, as more recently with Firefox, by employing a software architecture that allows for easily installable plugins that extend functionality.
Allowing users to more easily, sometimes massively change program functionality — in ways other than altering source — is a natural extension of the FOSS mentality, and is one of the primary benefits of FOSS to non-coders. And, the fact that open source freakoids love and like talk about projects on-line means that you’ll get extra documentation for free — many times, in fact, documentation that appertains either exactly, or very closely, to your situation.
I assure you, prospective FOSS user, that there exists a wide variety of quickly-searchable resources on the Internet dedicated to helping you. And, likely, these will be (a) written in language that is more like “human speak” and (b) more specifically related to your exact predicament than, say, the average proprietary-style technical manual can manage.
I guess you could describe this “reading” of the customer services model available to the open source community, vs. from proprietary software providers, as yet another anti-corporatist, and not-so-inventive application of the clue train manifesto to the world.
as it drones on about Preference options, Tabs, and default behaviors, blah blah.