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Wheeler: Why Open Source Software/Free Software? Look at the Numbers!

Apr 20, 2002, 05:00 (46 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by David Wheeler)

"Some sites provide a few anecdotes on why you should use OSS/FS, but for many that's not enough information to justify using OSS/FS. Instead, this paper emphasizes quantitative measures (such as experiments and market studies) on why using OSS/FS products is, in a number of circumstances, a reasonable or even superior approach. I should note that while I find much to like about OSS/FS, I'm not a rabid advocate; I use both proprietary and OSS/FS products myself. Vendors of proprietary products often work hard to find numbers to support their claims; this page provides a useful antidote of hard figures to aid in comparing these proprietary products to OSS/FS.

"Note that this paper's goal is not to show that all OSS/FS is better than all proprietary software. There are those who believe this is true from ethical, moral, or social grounds, but no numbers could prove such a broad statement. Instead, I'll simply compare commonly-used OSS/FS software with commonly-used proprietary software, to show that at least in certain situations and by certain measures, OSS/FS is at least as good or better than its proprietary competition..."

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