Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

Many people have many opinions on what open source is and what its uses are. Here at Turbo Lemon Media, we dont just love the idea of open source, we make good use of it every day. As an SME, it also allows us to offer the most cost-effective, yet comprehensive service possible to our clients.

Take for example our server hosting, which is based on the Linux distribution Ubuntu: the very popular operating system which is very well supported by a global community. Our web services are also made up of cleverly integrated open source solutions, including the e-mail, web server and connectivity software.

Our day-to-day routine is a trail of open source too; development is primarily checked against Mozilla Firefox and patched for other less supportive web browsers. Our PHP coders work from Eclipse Ganymede, which is a fully-featured, Java based development environment and in fact, Zend Studio for Eclipse is a commercial variant of the same software, with some useful tweaks and official support. Im even writing this in Open Office.

Open/Closed

The choice for open source isnt driven solely by financial purposes; as forward thinking developers, we like the idea that using an open-source solution offers full freedom to improve the software, unlike commercial alternatives. If you have a light bulb moment and think of a feature that the software doesnt provide, you can download the code and be proactive about it.

Companies that make open-source viable for business do so through providing support for their particular platform. Warranty is big tipping point for big businesses; given that open source software is released without any form of warranty, a lot of businesses are apprehensive. Not us; we embrace the challenge and have the in-house technical knowledge to provide support in what we offer.

The Good, the Bad and the GNU GPL

Were aware that the main limitations of open source are the various licenses that software can be released under. One of the most common is the GNU GPL which aims to keep software free. What this means to us as a business is that we cant make a commercial version of the original software and keep our modified code private. An alternative, the GNU LGPL, allows us to use code as a library within our commercial application, but any modifications to the original code must also be made available to the public according to the license. Then there are the funny ones, like the license used for the MySQL database. It is provided under a bespoke open-source license, but under certain circumstances it is necessary for companies to purchase licenses.

Open source helped us to lower the barrier for entry into web development. It allows us to concentrate on much more important things like working on the web. We know that its not the answer to everything, but it is the answer to a lot – it may even be alive and kicking in your living room right now.

For each piece of costly commercial software there are usually several open alternatives. Dont let us tell you how good it is; download it, install it for free, and make your own decision. (more)

Copyright 2009 Turbo Lemon Media Ltd.
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