Majority of proprietary software is sold on an as-is basis. Nowadays most software also offer an evaluation period which is a partial safety net for the buyer. However, once you have bought one and you realise that it doesn’t quite do everything you need, you either would like to change to another software or modify the software itself to suit your needs. Fortunately, open source software allows you to customise it which the proprietary ones don’t or not to the same extent.
If you find an error in the software, or you need it to do something differently, or need some new feature then either you can change it or contract someone else to change it to suit your needs. This is the inherent understanding integral to open source software. This is possible because “open source” itself means that you have access to the source code of the software and you have permission to change the software to your liking or have it changed.
Make copies of your modified software and install them wherever you need them. Distribute copies of your modified software by adhering to the norms of the governing license. Distribute the software for free or even for a fee. Open source software allows you all these freedoms.
At times merely changing a software doesn’t meet your needs but integrating with others is a better and faster option. In such cases also, open source software wins hands down. This is possible as there is a wide variety of open source software available that adhere to open standards. To meet the exact requirements one can glue together the disparate functional pieces. Thus open source principles strongly promote reuse of software.
Or what you will…well almost
The Open Source Initiative has published a definition that all open source licenses must meet. For a software to be categorised as open source, its governing license should strictly adhere to it. Thus, freedom to customise software provides substantial scope for experimentation without any hurdles, hence greatly benefiting the educational institutes and the students at large.