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Introduction to Open Source Software

What is Open Source Software?

Open source refers to anything which can be modified and shared due to its design which is publicly accessible. Open Source Software is the software which is inclusive of a source code and that can be inspected, modified and enhanced using this exact source code. The source code basically acts like a tracking machine. It works as a code that can be changed, altered or manipulated by computer programmers so that they can modify how the software which may be a program or an application may work as. The programmers who can access a device’s source code can also work to expand and improve the program by adding facets to it or by changing some parts of it which may not always work correctly.

Differences between Open Source and other Software

Usually all software has a source code that can only be modified by the person who created it in the first place. These first hand creators have an exclusive control over source of this software. This is called the proprietary software, also known as closed source software. It is only under the jurisdiction of the initial authors of a closed source software to legally duplicate, review and modify the software and in order to practice these proprietary software, the users of it must agree, by signing a licensed document with its terms and conditions, that they will not try to hamper with the software and not try to make any changes that are explicitly prohibited by the author. Some examples of these closed source software are Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office.

On the other hand, there is a significant difference in what Open source software is. In this kind of it, the original authors of the software make the source code available publicly so that people who want to view it, copy it and understand the functionality of it, can do so for their learning purposes. Sharing and modification of these sources is also permitted. LibreOffice is an example of an Open Source Software.

As it is in proprietary software, even open sourced software has the prerequisite of getting a licensed letter of terms and conditions signed by its users, but the main difference arises because these legal terms and conditions are open to interpretation and subjectivity and differ drastically from those of its parallel license.

Why do People Prefer Using Open Source Software?

There are multiple reasons why people prefer open sourced software vis-à-vis its counterpart. Some of these reasons are:

  • Learning

Open sourced software provides a free and publicly accessible platform for learning for those who want to learn how to use source codes. There is legal permission in them to view, copy and learn the source codes. This is a service not available in the closed source software, which is why the latter is not preferred as much.

  • Control

Open source software is also widely preferred because of the ability of users having more control over these types of software. The users are permitted to study the code so they can alter any feature of it and have a customized learning and working experience. Even the non-programmers can have a lot of benefits from open source software since they can use this software to learn from scratch and not necessarily at a very high programming level.

  • Security

Open source software is also more preferred because it is considered more secure in comparison to closed source software. Due to its feature of public viewing, people are able to correct any omissions or errors that may have been missed by the original author/s of the program. It also is much more convenient for users to view and work on their pieces of this software, since there is no prior permission required from the programmers. Owing to this fact, modification and upgrading of open source software is much faster and spontaneous as compared to proprietary ones.

  • Stability

When people work on long term assignments and projects, they prefer using open source software because the publicly accessible source software is more reliable when it comes to the usage of certain tools that may have an altered functionality in due course of time. Features in open source software have the assurance that they won’t disappear once the original authors stop working on them.