This may seem obvious to some, but we have come accross many people in our industry that prefer to use open source tools, especically in the early stages of their business. The most obvious reason to do so is that open source is free, a benefit that catches the eye of many startups. In many cases, open source software can produce products of the same high quality that paid software can provide. However, when starting a business, there are a few very important facts that could make open source hurt you in the long run.
For starters, open source tools take a lot of work to maintain. Yes, there are frequent updates, and yes, the community often responds with new features and bug fixes more frequently than commercial software companies. Just remember that commercial vendors have large teams working on updates, and those teams are using industry best development practices. In contrast, the open source community is spread out all over the world. In many cases, open source updates lack the focus and precision that paid software can provide.
Some open source software displays the opposite traits. The community may feel that their software is complete, and as a result, updates could be few and far between. If a feature you need is missing, or if the user interface is less than optimal and you are unable to locate such a feature, productivity will go down the drain. Commercial software companies have plenty of resources, and you can bet they spend loads of time and money researching their target market. Their teams are experts with regards to planning their user interfaces. In most cases, a commercial user interface will blow an open source user interface out of the water.
Open source software creates an environment that takes more time to manage. Installing an update can lead to a variety of issues, such as incompatible versions or missing prerequisite software. Figuring out how to hold it all together is a waste of time when it comes to business. This is time that should be spent serving clients and driving new business through the front door. Just remember, managing an open source environment is not an activity that generates revenue.