A software can be seen as a tool, knowledge or program. Open source software refers to computer software in which the source code is available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. For a lay person, it can be understood as a grandma’s recipe that is the base recipe to which any customization can be added by the son or daughter. Open-source software is a prominent example of open collaboration. A study states that adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion (£48 billion) per year to consumers.

In the early days of computing, programmers and developers shared software to learn from each other and evolve the field of computing. A paper published by Eric Raymond was a prominent factor in motivating Netscape Communicator to release Netscape Communicator Internet Suite as free software.

Before the term ‘open source’ became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of other terms. It was first proposed by a group of people in the free software movement where it was discussed against terms like free software, source ware, etc. Open source has never managed to entirely supersede the older term ‘free software’, giving rise to the combined term ‘Free and Open source software (FOSS).

The open source code helps the programmers to improve upon the source code and share the changes within the community. The code is released under the terms of a software license. Depending on the license terms, others may then download, modify, and publish their version (fork) back to the community. As the source code is published and made available to the public, anyone can copy, modify and redistribute the source code without paying royalties or fees.

Open source is more secure with bugs and vulnerabilities being fixed often. Quality and customizability in open source is better and costs much lesser than their proprietary counterparts. More than 90% of computers use Linux, a computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. Linux based operating systems are designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices.

The types of licenses can be reciprocal, partially reciprocal and academic. The 6 most common licenses cover 90% of open source project like GPL, LGPL, Mozilla public license 2.0, Eclipse public license, Apache license 2.0, BSD License, MIT License. Android, for example, is an open source software that Google releases under the Apache license.

An open source software acts as a common platform to share ideas. Here people collaborate, create and produce ideas. It deserves popularity as it can provide maximum benefit and it is very rare to find a company which does not use open source.

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4 thoughts on “Open Source

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