We establish some Linux facts and debunk some popular Open Source myths.

Myth 1: You have to have a beard and sandals to use Open Source.

We won’t lie, some Open Source users do have beards and some are seen wearing sandals, but you’re more likely to see an Open Source user out shattering Open Source myths in a suit and tie than sporting the beard and sandals combination. In fact, if you take Linux, one of the largest Open Source projects, most of the big contributors are working for major corporations such as Red Hat, SUSE, IBM, Intel and even Microsoft. For full details and more Linux facts take a look at this report from the Linux Foundation.

Five more common myths about Open Source

Myth 2: Open Source is only for the server room.

Of course, it does an excellent job in the server room, but that isn’t all it can do. There are plenty of cases where Open Source software (OSS) is a good fit outside the server room. Have you ever seen an Android phone? Or the Firefox web browser? In fact, Google use Linux for their internal desktop computers.

Myth 3: Too many versions make it difficult to keep up to date

Because of the open development model in many Open Source projects, there are a lot of versions. But unless you always need the latest features, it’s not necessary to constantly update. Most projects keep a ‘stable’ branch that only receives critical security updates. Some distributors like Red Hat keep stable versions of whole ecosystems supported for ten years or more, so you can update when you need to, not when the software changes.

Myth 4: You can’t build commercial software on Open Source

You are always free to sell software built on OSS, and many organisations do. Mac OS X, for example, is built on the FreeBSD Open Source project and they certainly don’t give it away for free. However, it depends on the licence of the Open Source project you’re incorporating into your software. Any software released under the BSD or MIT licences can be incorporated into commercial software provided you fulfil some acknowledgement clauses while code under the LGPL can be linked to from commercial software. However, if you use code released under the GPL, you will have to also release your source code under an open licence.

Myth 5: Open Source isn’t high performance

One of the Open Source myths which couldn’t be more wrong! The world’s fastest computer (Titan at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in America) runs Linux. A staggering 90% of the worlds fastest 500 computers run some form of Linux. On top of that, Linux is the operating system of choice for most organisations that store and process vast quantities of data like Google, Facebook. Even CERN uses Linux to hunt for subatomic particles.

For more information on approaching Open Source, download our free eGuide: Governance – friend or foe of Linux?