What is Open Source Software?
The generic definition of open source refers to a something that is available to the public for alteration or enhancement of an original design. Though this term was originated for computing; now the term is used to denote a set of values known as the ‘open source way’. Projects or products that are referred to as open source are those that have an open exchange. Further, an open exchange is an exchange that takes place in public like collaborative participation, meritocracy, etc.
Having defined the term open source, let me come down to open source software. So, what is an open source software? An open source software refers to a software whose source code is available for modification or improvement, publically.
The source code is a part of the software. This part is something that users, more often than not, do not see. The source code is the tool used by computer programmers who have the liability of manipulating the code in order to change the working of an application and a program. Moreover, this enables programmers to enhance a program or an application by adding features to it or just by fixing parts of it that do not work the right way.
What makes open source software different from other types of software?
Proprietary software’s differ from open source software’s because they are explicitly closed source. What this means is that the code of the software is strictly under the team or an organization’s control because they made it. And, this is also why they keep the responsibility of maintaining and looking over it to themselves. Examples of proprietary software include Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Word. Additionally, the user of the software has to first sign a license when they run the software. The license entails the terms that ask them not to twiddle with the software without the permission of the author(s) of the software.
On the contrary, an open source software is a software where the source code is made available by the author of the software so that the users can use it: learn from it, alter it, copy it or even share it. Examples of open source software include GNU Image Manipulation Program and LibreOffice.
In open source software you have to sign a license but it differs from a close source software. The terms and conditions of an open source software promote the collaboration and sharing of the source code so that modifications can be done and can then be incorporated in their projects as well. In addition, open source software has a condition that demands the user who is making changes should make it available for others so that they can use it too; without charging the other person for it.
The importance and preference of open source software
Open source software can be of benefit for programmers and non-programmers. Non-programmers also benefit from it because internet is also almost entirely built on open source technologies. Like for example, cloud computing also referred to as remote computing gives access to the public to use, share, like or watch something that is not only locally available but also globally connected computers.
Though there are some application of cloud computing that are closed source but there are open ones as well.
Additionally, the open source software is a preference of users because they can have a control over it which gives a sense of security and also because open source is ‘public’, individuals can share stuff and the people on the receiving end can learn. This way they also become better programmers.
Not only this, but you save an absolute fortune!