From CIO Today:
Open-source programming, a concept started nearly a decade ago by developers seeking an alternative marketing outlet, is becoming a staple for many software companies. Open-source code is now the basis of many popular products, some of which are distributed for free.
If you ask me – the more important reason for the popularity of open source is not because it is free but because it has the backing of a large community. And, of course, the business model is very different from the closed source products. Another thing is that there are a lot of open source developers who are really smart and motivated enough – to work on something they are not always paid for.
Again, from the same article:
Shimel noted that using open-source products is not about getting something for nothing. “It’s about getting interoperability,” he said.
“Unlike commercial software, there is no one owner who controls the program. With open-source programming, more than one person is involved with the program’s concept,” he said.
That has advantages, Shimel said. Buying a commercial product always comes with the risk of the company going out of business, but there is less of a risk with open source because the code is developed by a community of programmers who keep the product intact, he said.
Having worked on quite a few open source projects in the last year, I totally agree with this.