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What is Open Source Software? What Do You Need to Know About It?

Open-sourcing is the opposite of limiting your company’s technology strictly to the developers. But open-source software requires the developers, users, and other important people of the organisation to come together to build a community for the betterment of the product. That’s a brief introduction to open-source software, but to know about its nature, you will have to dig deeper into this post.

What is Open-Source Software?

Open-source software is non-proprietary or generic software, which means it is not owned or maintained by a particular entity. Any user or programmer is able to alter the code of the software for its improvement. Open-source software programmes allow developers to work as a group or collaborate with others to create a project. Open-source software does have a license, but it is not the property of the developers. Therefore, the software can be viewed at any time and users can learn how to modify or distribute the codes. Check out some of its examples if you want to understand the features of open-source software.

What are some examples of open-source software?

We can show you many examples of the open-sourced software that is available on the web. But only some of them are the most popular choices because they have gone through a series of modifications and improvements. However, remember that due to the open-source nature of the software, not only the developers and programmers but also the users and general public can make changes to their codes. Here are some of the examples of open-source software that is popular on the internet.

  • Apache webserver
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • The VLC Media Player
  • LibreOffice
  • jQuery

These examples of software are quite popular, but there are some reasons why some people prefer open-source software more than other types of software.

What are the Benefits of Using Open-Sourced Software?

For these reasons, there are two types of software: open-source and proprietary. But people prefer open-source more than proprietary.

1. The Sense of Control

Many users like open-source software because they can make changes to it whenever they want. As a user, you can examine the code and if you find anything suspicious or flawed within the code, you can change it or at least a small part of it to improve the quality of the software.

2. Security

Some users believe that open-source software is more secure than proprietary software, and open-source software tends to be stable as well. Since everyone can view and edit open-source software, there are less likely to be any errors or bugs that are going to ruin the user experience. A group of programmers can work on a single piece of open-source software without the help of the authors of the code. The programmers can update, upgrade, and fix any issue with the open-source software better and faster than with proprietary software.

3. Community

Open-source software can be modified by anyone, and for that reason, the users and developers form a community to discuss the betterment of the software. But communities are not exclusive to open source software because other applications can also create a group of users and developers. But when it comes to open-source software, the community is not only a group of people who buy or participate in the software. But the community also helps in producing, testing, and promoting the software they are using.

4. Stability

Many people like open-source software because of its stability and that it can be used for a long-term project. Developers of open-source software can distribute their source code publicly. Therefore, the developers or users who are working on the software source code can ensure that the software does not rely on the developers only. Open-source software can be used to incorporate and operate standards.

These are some of the reasons why users prefer open-source software more often than proprietary software. Kindly note that open source software is not simply beneficial for programmers but non-programmers as well.

Who benefits from open-source software?

Open-source software is for both non-programmers and programmers. The early systems, such as the Linux operating system and web server applications, were built from open source technology. Open-source technology allows a computer to connect devices with the global network to transmit data to the local devices that the users use.

Every time you use your computer to visit a website, text messages to your colleagues and friends, stream Netflix or any online media service, check email, or play multiplayer video games from your computer, smartphone, or gaming console, it requires your computer to connect with the web using open source technology. The devices that allow the open-source technology to transmit the data to the local computers are stored in places that the users can’t access physically.

These computers are also known as “remote computers.” Nowadays, more people are dependent on remote computers to perform tasks that they could not carry out on their local computers. For instance, when you are using image editing software or an email management system, you don’t have to install any applications to run on your local computer. Rather, you can access those programmes from the remote computers using your web browser or mobile browser and can be involved in remote computing.

Remote computing also means cloud computing because it stores the work such as files, photos, and videos on a global network that is not related to your local device, and the remote computers are not located in places near your residence. Cloud computing is a common topic these days because everything we do on our computers is indirectly or directly linked to the internet, such as Google apps, which are, however, proprietary software.

OwnCloud and NextCloud, however, are open-source software. You can run cloud computing software on top of additional software that will help the cloud computing application perform flawlessly and efficiently. When you run a cloud computing application on top of another software, you can call that top software platform a cloud computing application. OpenStack is an open-source cloud computing outlet that allows you to run open-source software.

Now that you know what open-source software is and who can use it, it’s time to find out how the software works.

Open Source Software: How does it Work?

Open-source codes are generally held in public repositories and can be distributed publicly. Anyone on the internet has the right to access this repository, and they can use the code for the betterment of the design and functions of the software. Open source means free. The users don’t have to pay anything to modify the code for the improvement of the project. Most of the time, open source software comes with a licence that has terms and conditions defined for the developers to know how to use, modify, and distribute the open-source software. The five most popular open-source software licences are:

  • MIT license
  • Apache license
  • GNU general public license 3.0
  • GNU general public license 2.0
  • BSD license

When you change the source code of an open-source software program, the software will include the changes you have made, including the methods you have applied. Open-source software licences have their own terms and, according to the terms, whether or not the software will be available for free depends on the modifications made to the software.

Therefore, even when the software is open-source, it doesn’t indicate that the software will consistently be free. “Open source” is not a concept in economics. When a software programmer creates open-source software, he can charge its cost to the users who want to distribute the software or simply use it. Some programmers charge money from the users for using the software because a software licence contains source code that provides services and features to the users.

Even though the software itself is not lucrative, the services and functions that the software offers are useful to the users and, thus, lucrative to the developers. Some programmers take charges from the users to help them install, use, and troubleshoot the software. Even though the software can be free of charge, the skills it takes to programme the open-source software are especially valuable. Many high-value companies are always looking for programmers who are experienced in working with open-source software.

Now that you know the ins and outs of open-source software, your first question might be: what is the difference between open-source and closed-source software?

What are the dissimilarities between Open Source and Closed Source Software?

There are numerous characteristics that you can use to compare open source with closed source software. And here we have given some of the most impactful aspects that you can consider.

Price: Open source software is available for a small charge or no charge at all, but closed source software has a wide range of price tags depending on the services and functions it provides.

Customizability: Depending on the open-source licence the software has, you can customise the project as much as you like. However, customising or modifying the project source code correspondingly demands a specific level of knowledge. When it comes to making changes to the closed-source software, you’ll have to suggest the changes to the company or the vendor of the software. As a user, you can suggest changes such as features, improvements, and bug fixes.

User-friendliness: Open source software is generally not more user-friendly than closed source software. But the user-friendliness of the software depends on the developers and the type of project you are working on. When it comes to closed source software, since they are created by a renowned organization, the company always keeps usability in mind to provide a better user experience.

Security: Since open source software is available to everyone all the time and the community is always keeping an eye on it, there is a belief that its source code is harder to bug. But bugs and glitches in open-source software can still exist. There can be security issues in closed-sourced software, but the company creating the software always conducts several periods of tests to make sure that the project they have worked on is secure enough for the users.

Stability: The stability of open-source software depends on the user base or community it has. Since the community maintains the software, they will determine how stable the project is. But when it comes to closed source software, the projects that are at least established in the market tend to be more stable. On the other hand, new software products are less likely to be stable than open-source software programs.

What are the liabilities of Open-Source Software Programs?

Despite having some advantages over closed-source software, open-source software has some drawbacks that you should be aware of if you plan to develop open-source software:

  • Open-source software is not that user-friendly. That’s why it can be hard to set it up on your system.
  • There can be compatibility issues with open-source software. When manufacturers create closed-source software, they make sure that the software will work in particular or certain environments, but open-sourced software doesn’t give that facility.
  • Open-source software, unlike closed source software, rarely comes with any warranty or legal obligations.
  • Since open-source software requires expertise, it can be costly to train programmers to learn how to create open-source programs.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that open-source software is maintained by a group of programmers and users, it is not always bug-free. However, contributors are constantly striving to improve the software. As a result, any bugs or glitches related to the software can be easily fixed. With that being said, keep in mind that open source software is used in multiple code management levels and they are more secure than closed-source software programs.

Vijay Singh Khatri
Vijay Singh Khatri
Graduate in Computer Science, specialized in Digital Marketing. I am very fond of writing tech articles and creating my own blog to teach my audience.

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