Why I Love Open Source

by @edent | # # # # # | 2 comments

There are many reasons to love Open Source Software.  It’s free (as in you pay nothing), it’s free (as in speech) and – perhaps my favourite reasons – it’s free (as in liberating).

By liberating, I mean that one isn’t tied down to the product roadmap and release schedule of the developers.  If I find a bug, not only can I report it, I can fix it myself.  If I can’t fix it myself, I can often find someone to fix it for me.

Imagine writing to MicroSoft and saying “Please can you make this change to Office – just for me?”  If you ever got a response, it would be “No”.  To be fair, you may also get the same reply from OpenOffice – the free replacement for MicroSoft Office – but because OpenOffice is Open Source, you can scratch the itch yourself.

If your itch-scratching is useful, others will benefit from it.  If you are the only one benefiting from it, so what? You’re happier and more productive.

I use WordPress Mobile Pack.  It creates a mobile version of this blog.  It’s a very easy to use and very powerful plugin.

Unfortunately, like all software, it has bugs.



What you’re seeing in the screenshot is WPMP picking up a shortcode and, rather than ignoring it, rendering it as human readable text within the teaser.  It’s ugly and confusing.

So, I raised a bug report and though “I bet I can fix this!”.  Now, I’m not the world’s most talented programmer – but with my knowledge of PHP and WordPress plugin architecture, I was able to locate the problem, fix it, test it and deploy it within half an hour.

if(strpos($content, '[')!==false)
   $content = "Read more";

That’s it.  Judicouly applied in the correct place made my problems disappear.

So, that’s why I love Open Source.  It places my destiny in my hands.

2 thoughts on “Why I Love Open Source

  1. Oli says:

    I wonder how many users of OpenOffice have the knowledge to code a fix for something they want, compile it etc.

    I bet hardly any.

    You’re more likely to get a response from Microsoft because they have a financial incentive to fix bugs etc

    1. Hi Oli,

      Some will have the knowledge, some won’t. It’s the same as saying “Yes, but how many drivers can change a tire / fix a spark plug / replace the engine?” You wouldn’t want a car that could *only* be fixed by the manufacturer, would you?

      I’ve tried reporting bugs to MS. They have millions of customers, so a single complaint tends to get lost in the mix. Open Source projects tend to be smaller. The people who work on them aren’t doing it (just) for a pay cheque – they’re more emotionally involved in the project and more likely to respond to constructive criticism.

      Thanks for the comment,


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