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The Limits of Open Source - Conclusion

I've tried to show that open source is highly appropriate in some circumstances and simply not a meaningful option in others. One example was given where the open source model will never be adopted. This is representative of industries where the software in question is integral to the very nature of the business. Though these same companies could very easily use open source software for infrastructure, they will not use open source where the software itself is an essential part of the core processes that differentiate themselves from their competitors. Other examples might include many manufacturing industries, electronics, biotech, pharmaceuticals and chemicals.

The medical profession was looked at as an example of an industry that currently has no significant open source projects being used to manage medical practices. With small changes in the licensing model and support from an appropriate professional association, the association working with its members could significantly improve the software used to manage their businesses, and both the association and members would be much better off for doing so. Other professions and the non profit industry itself, have many close parallels to the medical profession.

The government in general and schools in particular have much to gain and little to lose by moving quickly to discard all proprietary software and adopt a pure open source approach. They owe it to the taxpayers and students to do so.

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