It is a special feature of the EIF-services project to rely mainly on free software. This deliberate choice is not so frequent in the areas of activity considered here, although it may actually bring in some technical and economical advantages.
About engineering studies
The most obvious reason is not having to pay a license for using the tools you need, thus lowering the cost of the consultancy you provide (since there is no license to finance/pay off).
Apart from that, when a free project succeeds in developing an numerous community of users/developers (which is the case of the softwares chosen by EIF-services: Basilisk, Grass, Blender...), it is now a well established fact that the code thus developed is quite competitive in terms of software quality, documentation and fitness to purpose.
Furthermore, let us recall that the free licenses used by EIF-services deal with the software itself, but not with the data which may remain private property of the Client if needs be (actually the most frequent case for engineering studies).
About IT development
One of the main tasks of an IT developer certainly consists in identifying, mastering and integrating the software libraries which are useful to the project being developed. From that point of view the programmer is a just another software user, and the advantages of free libraries are then the same as described above.
There is an issue however, regarding the license to be applied to any development performed internally by EIF-services:
- if the matter is to bring forward an earlier project, then there is actually no issue since the license cannot be modified in that case (that's what copyright is about);
- if the thing is to develop a entirely new project:
- either the license is enforced by the necessary software libraries (the GPL, typically). Let us recall however, that the GPL does not compel one to redistribute the code developed under that license.
- or the software libraries in use are distributed with a more permissive license, such as the L-GPL which allows the development of proprietary applications. Since the main library used by EIF-services is published under such a license (the wxWidgets license), EIF-services is thus also allowed to develop proprietary applications, if such is indeed the will of the Client.