While an open source OS is free in that it has little upfront cost, the same can be said of a free puppy. Anyone who has a dog knows of the never-ending expenses that pet ownership can entail, from veterinarian bills to food costs to the time invested for training — together, these represent the true total cost of ownership for a puppy.
Likewise, the total cost of ownership for a “free” OS includes the extra effort and testing needed to certify a medical device that uses an open source OS, the potential income lost from the resulting delay in bringing the device to market (opportunity cost), and the investment needed to sustain an in-house team of OS experts.
I recently wrote about the unexpectedly high cost of free operating systems in an article for Medical Design Technology magazine. In it, I detailed a meeting I had with a CEO and CTO of a medical device startup. They were planning to create a wearable device, and were comparing our operating system, the QNX Neutrino OS, to Linux.
It’s the question I get every time I meet with a medical company. As I detail in my article, there are three overarching disadvantages to free OSes like Linux, including a difficult certification process, actual cost of ownership, and greater security risk given a larger attack surface. I go into detail explaining my rationale above in my piece, so please check it out if you’ve ever pondered this question. And take a look at my prior articles for MDT.