Open-source Software (OSS)
Open-source software often referred to as (OSS), is a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license. The copyright holder of the software grants users the rights to use, study, change and distribute the software as they choose. Originating from the context of software development, the term open-source describes something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible. Nowadays, “open-source” indicates a wider set of values known as “the open-source way.” Open-source projects or initiatives support and observe standards of open exchange, mutual contribution, transparency, and community-oriented development.
What is the source code of OSS?
The source code associated with open-source software is the part of the software that most users don’t ever see. The source code refers to the code that the computer programmers can modify to change how the software works. Programmers who have access to the source code can develop that program by adding features to it or fix bugs that don’t allow the software to work correctly.
Examples of Open-source Software
For the software to be considered open-source, its source code must be freely available to its users. This allows its users the ability to modify it and distribute their versions of the program. The users also have the power to give out as many copies of the original program as they want. Anyone can use the program for any purpose; there are no licensing fees or other restrictions on the software.
Linux is a great example of an open-source operating system. Anyone can download Linux, create as many copies as they want, and offer them to friends. Linux can be installed on an infinite number of computers. Users with more knowledge of program development can download the source code for Linux and modify it, creating their customized version of that program.
Below is a list of the top 10 open-source software programs available in 2021.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Open-source Software
Similar to any other software on the market, open-source software has its pros and cons. Open-source software is typically easier to get than proprietary software, resulting in increased use. It has also helped to build developer loyalty as developers feel empowered and have a sense of ownership of the end product.
Open-source software is usually a more flexible technology, quicker to innovation, and more reliable due to the thousands of independent programmers testing and fixing bugs of the software on a 24/7 basis. It is said to be more flexible because modular systems allow programmers to build custom interfaces or add new abilities to them. The quicker innovation of open-source programs is the result of teamwork among a large number of different programmers. Furthermore, open-source is not reliant on the company or author that originally created it. Even if the company fails, the code continues to exist and be developed by its users.
Also, lower costs of marketing and logistical services are needed for open-source software. It is a great tool to boost a company’s image, including its commercial products. The OSS development approach has helped produce reliable, high-quality software quickly and at a bargain price. A 2008 report by the Standish Group stated that the adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year for consumers.
On the flip side, an open-source software development process may lack well-defined stages that are usually needed. These stages include system testing and documentation, both of which may be ignored. Skipping these stages has mainly been true for small projects. Larger projects are known to define and impose at least some of the stages as they are a necessity of teamwork.
Not all OSS projects have been successful either. For example, SourceXchange and Eazel both failed miserably. It is also difficult to create a financially strong business model around the open-source concept. Only technical requirements may be satisfied and not the ones needed for market profitability. Regarding security, open-source may allow hackers to know about the weaknesses or gaps of the software more easily than closed source software.
Benefits for Users of OSS
The most obvious benefit of open-source software is that it can be used for free. Let’s use the example of Linux above. Unlike Windows, users can install or distribute as many copies of Linux as they want, with limitations. Installing Linux for free can be especially useful for servers. If a user wants to set up a virtualized cluster of servers, they can easily duplicate a single Linux server. They don’t have to worry about licensing and how many requests of Linux they’re authorized to operate.
An open-source program is also more flexible, allowing users to modify their own version to an interface that works for them. When a Linux desktop introduces a new desktop interface that some users aren’t supporters of, they can modify it to their liking. Open-source software also allows developers to “be their own creator” and design their software. Did you know that Witness Android and Chrome OS, are operating systems built on Linux and other open-source software? The core of Apple’s OS X was built on open-source code, too. When users can manipulate the source code and develop software tailored to their needs, the possibilities are truly endless.