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Specifically, you get a bunch of benefits: if the provider goes away, you still have the source and the right to fix it. You can hire in a competitive marketplace to have changes made. When you find a bug, you can fix it. When the documentation is unclear, you can read the source. When other people make improvements, you get to reap the benefits. Support often comes from people who actually wrote the code that perplexes you.

Finally, licensing costs are zero, and support costs exist in a competitive marketplace. If you've ever been stonewalled by Oracle or Microsoft refusing to acknowledge that a bug exists, or worse, acknowledging it but marking it WONTFIX, this is worth more than all the other advantages put together.

From a user's point of view, open source is a win all the way around.

I have to say, though, that not every startup is best served by open sourcing all of their work.

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