I was reading my post on OpenOffice 2.4 installation problem, when it occured to me that people may mistake the post as a complain. That’s not the case actually, in reality I was very happy to be able to find the solution. This context may be lost in that post though, since it’s a technical explanation on solving a problem.
Personally, I think if I stumbled on that problem with a proprietary software, I may not be able to enjoy the solution so soon. Since OpenOffice is licensed as free software (open source), I was free & empowered to :
[ 1 ] Ability to find the explanation from the source itself.
This is simply not possible with proprietary software. Even if you have support contract, you may have to go through layers of it support structure (first line, second line, and so on) before you’ll be able to talk with someone who understand the problem.
With access to the source, I was able to solve the problem myself.
[ 2 ] Enjoy clean code, easy to look through
Mucking through the source code may seem scary at first. And the code is in Java, which I’m not proficient at.
But to my joy, the source code was very clean, clear, and quite easy to read.
It took me very little time to spot the relevant code to my problem, which enable me to devise the solution.
[ 3 ] Ability to share (the solution)
Since the software itself is free, we are also free to publish the solution to the problem.
This is not always the case with proprietary software.
Example; say you’re using a disassembler to reverse-engineer a proprietary software, so you can look at its source code. This in itself is already a violation of law.
And if you managed to find the solution, don’t publish it. It’s just like telling everyone “hey, I just broke the law here!”
With free / open source software, we can share our experiences freely. No fear of litigation, like what already happened to several bloggers with proprietary software vendors.
A bit about me – I started my career as expert in various proprietary software. I used to own many accreditations – Cisco’s CCNA, Novell’s CNA. I was even a certified Microsoft Professional on Active Directory 🙂 that was quite easy to be honest, I was able to pass one of the exam even when I had bad flu (read: blurring vision, running nose, bad case of headache).
As with any other job, I encountered many problems, which require me to solve. However, I have limited access to these tools. I can only do & hack so much.
In the end, I was blamed for problems which are impossible to resolve (eg: because the vendor refuses to fix it, etc), the company loses money, the customers got the share of the problem as well.
This is not acceptable.
So when I returned to Indonesia, I decided it’s time for a change.
I became an open source practitioner.
Now I have freedom on my hands, I’m free to hack as I wishes.
And my customers are enjoying it too as the result. Just a few days ago we installed a VPN appliance based on open source technologies on a big telco company. The appliance was customized to single sign-on to a directory server we previously setup, and provide VPN tunnel to its users secured with very strong 2048-bit encryption.
And the way it’s setup, it’s resilient, have high availability, require zero maintenance – just runs.
That’s the power of open source. That’s the power of freedom.
Free / open source software empowers us. It’s as simple as that.