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Everything About Open Source Software

  • Yamini
  • Feb 16, 2022
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What is Open Source Software?


Open-source software (OSS) is software that comes with a source code (basically a code that the programmers use to control the functioning and behaviour of an application) accessible to everyone to use it as it is, make modifications, and distribute with its original rights.


OSS includes a license allowing programmers to modify the software according to their needs and control how the software can be distributed, as explained by this article


Owing to the unbelievably wide range of advantages it offers, companies are making a transition from closed source software to open source.


Let's dive deep to understand how this technique is rapidly transforming the business world these days.


First of all, Richard Stallman, an MIT programmer, came up with the idea to make the source code freely available to everyone in 1983, as mentioned by DesignRush.


Using his own GNU Public License, he began releasing free code as he wanted programmers to have complete access to modify the code as they experiment more about it. Beginning the GNU project in 1984, Richard S. gave rise to a free software community.


Also Read | 10 Types of Software


To understand the working of OSS, the public repository stores the open-source code which is shared with the general public. Anyone can access the repository of code to modify or enhance the design and functionality of the project.


Thus, open-source software comes with a distribution license that specifies the terms for the developers to test, study, alter and, more importantly, distribute the software.


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Advantages and Disadvantages of OSS


As everything comes with Its pros and cons, so does open-source software. Read on to find out more about the benefits and risks associated with open-source software.


The advantages of OSS are detailed below:


  1. Affordability 


Open Source Softwares generally come without any charges and the user doesn't need to pay any additional amount for a copy that he/she downloads. Also, the software is programmed so that it can be operated on any type of computer, increasing the hardware’s life.


  1. Reliability


Open Source software is appreciated for its reliability as the public is given access to operate it, which helps to increase the chances of detecting a bug and fixing it.


This software is a long-term project for many developers who try to learn new things and implement them using this open-source software. As this software is managed by professionals who are skilful and innovative, the risk of any mistake or a bug comes down rapidly. 


  1. Increased Flexibility


Open-source software provides developers with the flexibility to examine the working of code and freely make amendments according to their unique needs. The user can easily edit, modify, delete anything as per his choice.


The source code is accessible to all who possess the appropriate license; they can alter the codes without any restriction fit to their priority. Closed software lacks this level of flexibility of doing work as the user needs to operate adhering to certain restrictions and terms and conditions.


  1. Assured Stability


The open-source software projects are considered for their long-term accomplishments as they are distributed to the public. It is quite clear that creators would not discontinue or stop the project abruptly.


This software is often operated by communities of passion-driven and skilful programmers who are motivated by a zeal to support and provide an innovative solution for any problem.


They strive to introduce new concepts that are more effective and more efficient than the ones seen before. Programmers working on open-source software leverage all these additions, so there is no use for them to shift to closed software with so many restrictions.


  1. Endless Opportunities for Programmers


Open-source software works to develop an online community of developers to explore, experiment and innovate with things by learning from what others are doing.


It is an amazing platform for people who want to learn and seek more opportunities. Programmers can experiment with their new ideas and can learn new tricks from the work of other programmers, thus building a win-win situation for everyone. 


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Disadvantages of open source software


  1. Difficult to Use


The first and foremost disadvantage of open-source software is that it is not that easy to operate. There is always a possibility that some open-source software is difficult to use and set up.


Some do not have user-friendly features or may not be familiar to the developers, which might cause them difficulty in using. These issues pose obstacles, thus reducing productivity.


  1. Problems with Compatibility 


Another issue faced by users is regarding compatibility. For instance, some proprietary hardware demands specific drivers for carrying out open-source programs that are often available from the equipment manufacturers.


The need to acquire these drivers adds to the cost of the project, making it expensive.


  1. Hidden Costs 


Owing to training purposes, importing data, and another host of reasons, certain unexpected costs may arise. This can pose an issue for most users. 



Most Popular OSS Licenses


The legal contracts are known as licenses are set up between the one who creates them and the user give access to the programmers to modify the project under specific conditions.


Mostly they are without any fee, but many a time they come with certain restrictions. Today, over 200 licenses are in the market for this purpose.


Some of the most widely used Open Source Software Licenses are:-


  • MIT license (MIT)

  • Apache License 2.0 (Apache-2.0)

  • GNU General Public License (GPL)

  • 3-clause BSD license (BSD-3-Clause)

  • Common Development and Distribution License 1.0 (CDDL-1.0)


Best Open Source Software Examples


According to Digitalogy, in this tech-driven world, we are increasingly being surrounded by a massive number of apps, software, and services. Our age is flooded with various open-source software's available in the market.  


Here is a list of ten open source software examples that are widely popular around the globe: 


  • VLC Media Player

  • Audacity

  • Avidemux

  • GIMP

  • Amarok

  • LibreOffice

  • Inkscape

  • KeePass

  • 7-Zip

  • Mozilla Thunderbird


Differences Between Open-source Software, Free Source Software, and Closed Source Software


Initially, open-source software was called ‘free-source software.’, which was started in 1983 by Richard Stallman through his GNU project. 


On the other hand, closed-source software is not accessible to the general public as it is protected by the company that created it, giving the legal authority to access the code only to the owners. 


To use it as it is, users need to pay though they can neither make modifications to the original source of code nor share it. (Reference)


The idea of replacing “free software” with the term “open source'' was proposed by Peterson. In early 1998, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded, settling the widely popular name of open-source software.


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Ending Note

We have seen how open-source software has emerged to rule the tech industry, and we can safely assume its future to be really bright. 


In the coming years and beyond, we will be able to see open-source software being fueled by necessity. The solutions and opportunities offered by open-source software are immense. 


As it is quite evident by looking at the innovations and advancements in this technique, open-source software will cease to be just an option. It is going to emerge as the only choice that people would want to use in the near future.

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