What is an Open Source Software? (Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages)

What does it mean to be Open Source?

"Open source" is a philosophy that encourages the open use and distribution of a finished product, most commonly software or a program. Still, it can also include the implementation and design of other objects. Because of the need to rewrite vast volumes of computer source code, the term "open source" gained popularity as the Internet grew in popularity. When source code is made available to the public, it opens up new communication channels and engages technical communities, as well as a plethora of new models.

Open source is based on the idea of openly exchanging technology information to improve it through diverse perspectives and thoughts. Because the technology is open source, the amount of effort required is minimized because many contributions are made by a large number of people. This concept existed long before computers and even before the industrial revolution, when people exchanged and improved food and medicinal formulas, for example.

When it comes to open-source software, the code is frequently freely available and editable as long as the user follows the software license agreement's restrictions. The GNU General Public License (GPL) is the most common open-source license. However, there are other free licenses such as the Intel Open Source License, FreeBSD License, and Mozilla Public License.

Is Open Source Software Bug-free?

No, is the quick response. It's unavoidable that open source software will have quality, performance, and security vulnerabilities as a result of various parties contributing modifications and enhancements. However, a large number of code contributors can mean that issues are found and resolved more quickly.

Code faults will exist in any program, whether open-source or commercial. The major distinction is who is accountable for bug fixes: vendors are liable for commercial software, whereas consumers are responsible for open-source software. OSS can be readily secured with a solid set of AppSec tools and practices.

Proprietary Software, Open-source Software, and Free Software

"Free software" is often used interchangeably with "open source software." Both phrases refer to the same thing: freely available software, similar to the open sharing of knowledge and ideas. There are clear contrasts in the underlying philosophy, according to the Free Software Foundation (FSF): open source is primarily concerned with the practical benefits achieved through the practice of open cooperation in software development. A social movement that emphasizes freedom and fairness is also implicit in the term "free software," which was created in the 1980s.

Free software, according to the FSF definition, is software that respects the freedom and community of its users. "Free" in this context does not indicate "free of charge," as in "free beer" or "freeware," but rather refers to the right to free expression. This generally translates to the ability for users to execute, copy, distribute, study, modify, and develop the software.

In contrast, "proprietary software" is subject to tight legal restrictions on its usage and dissemination. Because proprietary software's source code is not freely available, it cannot be examined, updated, or transferred. Furthermore, most proprietary software can only be utilized after paying for it. In the form of a license, just a right of use is granted. The software itself remains the property of the manufacturer, who retains ultimate control over the product thanks to the copyright.

Benefits of Using Open Source Software

Open-source software tools are less expensive than commercially available products. According to surveys, open-source software saves businesses an estimated $60 billion every year. This may appear unusual at first, but given that these services are available to anyone, it's not surprising (especially those who cannot afford commercial items). They're normally supplied for free, and any further copies you download aren't charged for. Because many of these programs are designed to run with nearly any type of computer, they can also help you increase the life of your current gear so you don't have to replace it as often.

Created by Talented and Skilled Professionals

Large, well-established software companies can afford to engage the greatest expertise in the industry to develop their products. As a result, many prefer to purchase computer software from these businesses because they believe they will get good value for their money.

It is true that large corporations hire experienced, properly trained, and highly skilled employees. Consumers should be aware, however, that not all software developers are financially motivated. However, many of these specialists don't judge their worth just on their pay; instead, they aim to create a program that will garner the respect of their peers and, perhaps, make a positive impact on the globe.

Many software engineers use open-source goods to express their creativity and ideas. They won't be bound by the rigid norms of the corporate world, and they'll be able to experiment and create high-quality programs as a result. As a result, consumers will profit since they will get access to world-class and cutting-edge software without paying too much.

Exceptionally Dependable

The reliability of open source software can be attributed to two factors. First and foremost, they are created mostly by skilled and competent specialists who strive to create high-quality programs. Second, they're worked on by tens or hundreds of individuals, which means there are a lot of eyes looking for flaws and a lot of hands fixing them in the least period. These requirements result in items with excellent quality and useful features that function well the majority of the time (if not always).

Assist You in Being More Adaptable

Because you're not tied to a proprietary product, you don't have to follow a strict IT architecture, and you don't have to update your software or hardware as frequently. Instead, you can mix and match your programs to create a customized IT architecture that meets your specific requirements. There's no need to be concerned because the market offers a wide selection of choices; all you have to do is sort through them and choose the ones that best suit your needs. You can't seem to locate something that appeals to you? You can either alter open-source software yourself or hire someone to do it.

Drawbacks of Using Open Source Software

Let us now highlight some of the drawbacks of using open source software.

Vulnerable to Malevolent Users

Although many people have access to open-source software's source code, not all of them have good intentions. While many people use their access to find faults and enhance the application, others use it to exploit the product's weaknesses and develop bugs that can infect electronics, steal identities, or annoy other users. Commercially developed software rarely has these issues since the companies who create it use strict quality control procedures to ensure that the program is almost faultless when it is distributed to the market.

May Not Be as User-friendly as Commercial Software

This isn't true for all open-source software, as several of them (including LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox, and the Android operating system) are extremely user-friendly. Several programs, on the other hand, are designed primarily to fulfil the developer's demands and bring his visions to life. As a result, the software's user interface receives little attention, making it difficult to operate, especially for those who aren't tech-savvy.

Open Source Software Lack Customer Support

Those who prefer commercially developed software claim that it provides them with peace of mind. After all, they know who planned, created, and distributed the product, so they know who they can hold accountable if the program fails to perform correctly or damages their gear. In the case of open-source software, however, this is not the case. Because a large group of people created it, users can't point the finger at a single person or company.