Small businesses are always looking for ways to save time and reduce their business operating costs. One of the ways to do this is to use open source software (OSS) to run their business. Small business owners can change the code of open source software in such a way that it becomes a software they want and need.
This method greatly reduces software development costs. Open source software is accompanied by an internal community that continuously modifies and improves the source code, and when a problem occurs, you can solve your problem through the community. Many big and reputable software like Mozilla Firefox are open source.
In this article, I am going to share open source software, its advantages, disadvantages and applications in detail. I hope that by reading this article, you will find the answers to all your questions about open source software.
Table of Contents
What is open source software?
Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify and enhance.
Open source software (OSS) is software that is distributed with its source code and made available for use, modification and distribution using its original rights. Source code is the part of software that most computer users never see. This is the code computer programmers manipulate to control how a program behaves.
Programmers who have access to the source code can modify the program by adding to it, changing it, or fixing parts of the program that do not work properly. OSS typically includes a license that allows developers to modify the software to suit their needs and control how the software is distributed.
Open source software is often cheaper, more flexible, and more durable than its proprietary counterparts because it is developed by users rather than a single author or company. Open source has become a movement and a method that goes beyond software production. The open source movement uses the values and decentralized production model of open source software to find new ways to solve problems in our communities and industries.
History of open source software
The idea of making source code freely available in 1983 was an ideological movement informally founded by Richard Stallman, a programmer at MIT. Stallman believed that software should be accessible to programmers so that they could modify it at will, with the goal of understanding it, learning about it, and improving it. Stallman began releasing free code under his own license, the GNU General Public License. This new approach and ideology was used around software creation and eventually led to the formation of the Open Source Initiative in 1998.
What is the difference between open source software and other types of software?
To better understand the characteristics of open source software and closed source software, we have compared five basic aspects:
Pricing, Security, Support, Resource Availability and Usability.
1) Price policy
Open source is often referred to as free software. However, this may incur additional costs such as assistance, additional services or additional features. Therefore, it is still possible to pay for services with OSS. But closed source software is usually a paid software. Fees may vary depending on the complexity of the software. Most companies offer free trials to convince the buyer that their software is suitable.
The issue of security is very controversial because every software has two sides. Open source software code can be viewed, shared, and modified by users, which means anyone can modify, upgrade, or test broken code. Bugs are fixed quickly and the code is thoroughly reviewed after each release. However, due to availability, the source code is open for hackers to practice. Conversely, closed source software can only be modified by a vendor. Problem solving can be much more than just comparing with OSC. When it comes to choosing the most secure software, the answer is that each has its pros and cons. Therefore, this is often a challenge for companies operating in a specific industry.
3) Support quality
Comparing the support of open source and closed source software, it is obvious that CSS prevails in this case. Fees include an option to call support and receive it within one business day in most cases. The answer is well organized and documented. For open source software, such an option is not provided. The only support options are forums, helpful articles, and a hired expert. However, it is not surprising that using such a service does not receive a high response.
4) Source code availability
Open source software provides the ability to change the source code without any restrictions. Individual users can develop what they want and benefit from innovation developed by others in the user community. Because the source code is easily accessible, it enables software developers to improve existing applications. Closed source software is more restrictive than open source software because the source code cannot be modified or viewed. However, such a restriction may contribute to the security and reliability of CSS.
Usability is a sore subject of open source software. User guides are written for developers, not general users. Also, these guides are not consistent with standards and structure. Usability is one of the advantages for closed source software. The documentation is usually well written and contains detailed instructions.
Is open source software only important to computer programmers?
Obviously, the answer to this question is no. Open source technology and open source thinking benefit both programmers and non-programmers.
Because the early inventors of the Internet built many of them on open source technologies, such as the Linux operating system and the Apache server program, everyone who uses the Internet today benefits from open source software.
Every time computer users browse the web, check e-mail, chat with friends, stream music online, or play multiplayer video games, their computers, cell phones, or game consoles use software. Open source software connects to a global computer network to intercept and transmit its data to “local” devices in front of it. The computers that do all of these important things are usually located in remote locations that users cannot actually see or physically access, which is why some people call these computers “remote computers.”
Most people rely on remote computers to perform tasks that they might perform on their local devices. For example, they may use word processing, email management, and online image editing software that they do not install and run on their personal computers. Instead, they can easily access these programs on remote computers using a web browser or mobile app.
Some people call remote computing “cloud computing” because it involves activities (such as storing files, sharing photos, or watching movies) that involve not only local devices, but also a global network of remote computers that are “atmospheric.” It surrounds them.
Cloud computing is a very important aspect of everyday life with internet connected devices. Some cloud computing applications, such as Google Apps, are proprietary. Other applications, such as ownCloud and Nextcloud, are open source.
Why do people prefer to use open source software?
People prefer open source software over proprietary software for a number of reasons, including:
Control: Many people prefer open source software because they have more control over this type of software. They can check the code and make sure it does what they want and they can change the parts of the code they don’t like. Non-programmer users also benefit from open source software because they can use the software for whatever purpose they want, not just the way someone else thinks it should be.
Education: Other people like open source software because it helps them become better programmers. Because open source code is publicly available, students can easily study it as they learn to build better software. Students can also develop their skills by sharing their work with others and inviting them to post comments and critiques. When people discover mistakes in the source code of programs, they can share those mistakes with others to help them avoid making the same mistakes themselves.
Security: Some people prefer open source software because they consider it to be more secure and stable than proprietary software.Since anyone can view and modify open source software, someone may find errors or omissions that the original authors of the program made. Since many programmers can work on a piece of open source software without asking permission from the original authors, they can modify and update open source software more quickly than proprietary software.
Stability: Many users prefer open source software to proprietary software for important and long-term projects. Because developers publicly distribute the source code for open source software, users who rely on it for important work can be sure that their tools won’t be destroyed or broken if their original creators don’t work on them. Additionally, open source software tends to both integrate with and work with open standards.
Community: Open source software often inspires a community of users and developers to form around it. It’s not just open source software. Many popular apps are about dating and user groups. But in the case of open source, the community is not just a hub of enthusiasts buying (emotionally or financially) into an elite group of users. These are the people who produce, test, use, promote and ultimately influence the software they love.
Differences between open source software and free source software
Free source software is often used as a synonym for open source software. Although they are similar, they are actually two different types of software; both of them offer similar licenses but have different ideologies.
Richard Stallman introduced the concept of free source software in the 1980s. Its main purpose was that all users have the right to exploit, copy, share, study, change and improve this software. On the other hand, open source software was introduced in the late 1990s by a group of people as a reaction to the limitations of open source software. The main difference they made was that they shifted the emphasis from freedom to security. It also brought other practical benefits such as transparency and cost savings.
All free source software can qualify as open source software. However, not all open source software can be free. For example: Open Watcom is an integrated development environment whose license cannot be changed and used privately. Velo by Wix, on the other hand, is a development platform that allows brands and development agencies to create advanced websites and web applications at zero cost because it’s an open development platform.
Advantages and disadvantages of open source software
Open source software is free and flexible. Developers can review how the code works and freely make changes to dysfunctional or problematic aspects of the application to better suit their unique needs.
Open source software is stable. The source code is publicly distributed, so users can depend on it for their long-term projects knowing that the code creators can’t simply stop the project or let it crash.
Cultivating the genius of open source software. Programmers can use the existing code to improve the software and even their own innovations.
Open source comes with an internal community that continuously modifies and improves the source code.
Open source provides great learning opportunities for new programmers.
Open source software is difficult to use because of the difficulty in setting it up and the lack of friendly user interfaces.
Open source can cause compatibility issues. When attempting to program proprietary hardware with OSS, specialized drivers are often required, usually only available through the hardware manufacturer.
Open source software can create liabilities. Unlike commercial software, which is completely controlled by the vendor, open source rarely includes any warranty, liability, or protection against infringement. This places the responsibility of maintaining compliance with legal obligations on the OSS consumer. Open source can incur unexpected costs in training users, importing data, and setting up the required hardware.
Top 10 examples of open source software in 2021
1) Mozilla Firefox
Mozilla Firefox is a customizable web browser and a free open source software. It offers thousands of plugins that can be accessed with a click of the mouse. The platform has 3.98% of the browser market share worldwide and is available for android, iOS, Windows and Linux.
According to CNET, Mozilla reshaped the technology industry and fueled the flames of open source software that is changing the way social networks and operating systems function.
LibreOffice is a complete office suite that offers presentations, documents, spreadsheets, and databases. Unlike Microsoft Office, which is not accessible to everyone due to its pricing model, LibreOffice is completely free. To support it, its users can donate while downloading. Therefore, it has a large community of contributors. It’s available for Mac, Linux, and Windows, and it also has a live chat and a forum you can refer to when you’re looking for help.
Another great example of open source software worth mentioning is the GIMP photo editing tool. It offers the same features as some of the more expensive tools on the market, including various filters and effects, yet it’s free. GIMP is available on various operating systems, including Windows and Linux, and has a variety of party plugins and customization options. Many illustrators, graphic designers and photographers use it to improve their images and improve their work.
VLC Media Player (4
VLC Media Player is one of the most famous examples of open source software that you can use for free. This multimedia player is used for video, media and audio files and plays discs, webcams and devices. Most users use it to stream podcasts as well. It allows you to optimize your audio and video files for a specific form of hardware and also provides you with a set of tools and skins that allow you to create custom layouts. Moreover, this operating system runs on various operating systems such as Android, Mac OS X, Linux, Windows, iOS and more.
According to a Stack Overflow survey, 83.1% of developers claimed that Linux is the most searched for operating system. Linux is one of the most user-friendly open source software available in the market. It is commonly used on Android devices and desktops. What sets this OS apart from the rest is that it costs nothing and is incredibly customizable. Most companies also choose it because of its high security and excellent community support.
Blender is another best example of open source software of 2021. It is a 3D graphics and animation tool that supports motion tracking, simulation, animation, video editing, rendering, modeling and more. It also offers a suite of modeling tools and features including real-time perspective preview, multi-resolution, and support for planar and tripod solutions.
7) GNU compiler set
GNU Compiler Collection is a collection of compilation tools for software development in C, C++, Ada, FORTRAN and other languages. It provides high-quality versions regularly and works with native and cross-purposes. The resources it provides are freely available via weekly snapshots as well as SVN.
Python is a popular programming and scripting language used by custom software developers. According to IEEE, it was the most popular language in 2019. In recent years, due to the rapid growth of machine learning, it has attracted many users; it is also easy to use, which is why most developers choose this open source software.
When we talk about the best open source software examples of 2021, we should not miss PHP. It is a software development language used to create websites and other digital platforms. The site is fast and flexible, and supports the most popular websites around the world, including Slack and Spotify.
Shotcut is a video editor that offers powerful features including voice and webcam recording, color rendering, text, audio, counters, and support for popular image formats, EDL export, and more. Shotcut is a great tool for editing your audio and video files and is available for Windows, macOS and Linux. On its website, you can also find great resources and tutorials on how to use this free open source software.