What Is Open-Source & Why Is It Better For Your Business?


What is Open-Source?

At Cosmic Creative Studio, we work exclusively with open-source systems and software, but what is open-source & why is it better for your business?

When a program is open-source, its source code is made available and accessible to its users. “Source code” is the part of software that programmers can manipulate to change how the application or program works. Programmers can then make improvements such as adding features to it or fixing parts that don’t always work correctly.

That means that absolutely anyone has the ability to modify it and then distribute their own versions of the program. Furthermore, users have the ability to distribute as many copies of the original program as they want and anyone can use the program for any purpose. There are no licensing fees or other restrictions for using the software.

Sounds like a pretty good deal right? On the contrary, proprietary programs, tools and software often come with access and licensing fees and the source code is not made available to the public.

So why is open-source better for your business?

You save money.

Often when you want to use a program, you need to consider the purchase price itself, additional costs like virus protection & support charges as well as any ongoing expenses associated upgrading to the latest version as a new one in released. Open-source programs are often completely free to access, with an option to donate to help support ongoing improvements made by the developers. By choosing open-source, your business can potentially save hundreds if not thousands of dollars on subscription and access fees.

You become part of a community that focuses on benefiting everyone.

For us, one of the most important reasons to go with open-source is being part of a community that is focused on benefiting everyone. This is an important way that we live our values as a business! Open source software often inspires a community of users and developers to form around it. The community comprises of people who produce, test, use, promote, and work together to improve the program or system that they use and love. This spirit of collaboration for everyone to benefit is a meaningful way we can all make a positive impact in our world.

You get better product and customer experience.

If you think about the advantages of having a whole community of people from all around the world being able to make improvements to the source code, you can imagine that an application will always get better and better. This goes from everything to security, to usability, to customization, to additional enhanced features to better support. It’s very likely that with a community of users, testers and developers, someone has already come across an issue you need to sort out and has the answer ready for you.

You can properly try before you buy.

Even though most proprietary tools these days have a free “trial period”, it often comes with limited features or a constrained time period. With open-source tools, you can have unlimited time to use all of the features and see how well you can make it work for your business. Once you learn the ropes and make the program work for you, we recommend you make a donation to help support ongoing development of the application or software.

Our favourite open-source tools:

Before we made the switch to open-source systems, we thought that it would be too difficult and that the programs wouldn’t be as easy to use. Whilst applications may not always look like what you’re used to, rest assured the functionality, support and everything mentioned above is just as good if not better than what you’re already using. Below are the tools we use to carry out our day to day business operations.

Operating System:

We use Ubuntu Studio which is a Linux distributed operating system to run our computers. The security is much better than Windows or Mac based OS and the community support is awesome. In terms of useability, Linux OS is very easy to use and they offer different versions catered towards you individual needs. Ubuntu Studio includes all the creative tools that we use for graphic design, photography and video mentioned below.

Office Tools:

We use Office Libre as our office suite. It contains applications that are equal to, if not better to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Mac Pages and Mac Numbers. You can download and use Office Libre completely for free here.

Graphic Design:

Almost all graphic designers if taught formally, learn the Adobe suite of graphic design tools. This is only natural as often, proprietary software is what is being used by institutions. We hope that more and more people will utilize the functionality of open-source software which is often equal to, if not better than their proprietary counterparts.  Below are the programs we use instead of their proprietary alternatives:

  • Instead of Adobe Photoshop, we use GIMP
  • Instead of Adobe Illustrator, we use Inkscape
  • Instead of Adobe In-design, we use Scribus

Photography & Video:

We edit all our photos and videos using open-source software. Don’t get us wrong, we started on the whole Adobe Suite too, and of course the programs are functional and awesome. But with all the benefits of open-source software listed above, there really isn’t any reason to switch our whole operation to open-source. Below are the programs we use instead of their proprietary alternatives:

Web design:

We use WordPress to build our websites. Over 35% of websites on the internet are built using this open source software. It’s important not to confuse wordpress.org with WordPress’ paid offering which is similar to services like Squarespace and Wix. Whilst the interface interface may not always look as sleek as a paid subscription service like Squarespace, there are a lot of plug-ins, website builders and tools that can help you easily build your own website and often for a much cheaper price in terms of both up-front and on-going maintenance costs.

Want to learn more about open-source? Head on over to opensource.com.

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