For me open source is about collaboration, independences and freedom. My intellectual freedom, that knowledge doesn’t belong to anyone but all of us. It allows us to lean and gain a more depth of understanding. It has also a economically side to this. Open source is the way I make my living.
What does this mean? There is often a problem that need to be solved and some have already solved it. I don’t have to redo it. I just use the solution of him. By using open source I also gain independences. I might modify it to my own. Some tweak here, some fix there and the software works even more better than before.
While it saves me often time there lies it downside as well. The code of someone else might cause problem and I need to invest time in fixing this. While open source might offer a better degree of security or code quality, this can only be verify or achieved by persons with the right degree of understanding. This type of persons are where the cost are. Years of training and work is necessary for them to accomplish this. Hence getting a problem fix in a professional matter almost always imply a high cost in money.
Open source works well when you have enough time and money for it. But to often there it’s just a half baked solution to a problem. At some point you need more developer to keep it working. In fact time, money and people are just a quantity. Your project needs the necessary significance. Without, no community will develop and the project perhaps will die.
In then end it’s a longtime investment that often have no pay off before. Only when you keep on track and stay focus it becomes rewarding and valuable experience.