More than twenty years ago, in February 1998, the term ‘open source‘ was used for the first time and only for software. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has formulated basic definitions and created the basis for promoting open source, which can be found literally everywhere today.
Today OSS is the basis of the Internet and the Web in general. Computer and mobile devices, as well as the networks through which they connect, are driven by open source software. Now it is impossible to create and scale systems related to Cloud Computing and the Internet of Things without OSS.
Open Source vs Closed Source
The software is divided into two main categories depending on the conditions of the license used: proprietary and open source software. The fundamental difference between the two is the presence or absence of the right to make changes to the code.
The source code of the closed (proprietary) software, as a rule, cannot be copied, studied or modified. Such source code is kept secret and it is the property of its authors. The most prominent examples of widely used proprietary software are Windows and Mac operating systems, Microsoft Office, Skype, iTunes, Google Earth, WinRAR, Adobe products, Java version from Oracle, as well as some versions of Unix.
On the other hand, free and open source licenses provide access to the source code to anyone who would like to study it, improve it, and discuss it with others. Such licenses contribute to the development of cooperation and free exchange of ideas, allow you to share knowledge and join forces, greatly expanding the opportunities. Examples of free and open source software include the Linux kernel, GNOME Desktop and Free Berkeley Software Distribution (FreeBSD).
It is also important to note that some experts prefer to separate the concepts of open and free software. The main difference is in philosophy: the free software community is a social movement concerned with ethics and freedom, while the open source community is interested in purely practical aspects. In fact, both terms describe the same software category, since almost all open source software is also free.
Main Benefits of the Open Source Software
Over the past decade, open source has become the main base for software development and the engine of innovation for many companies around the world. In many cases, free and open source software has significant advantages over proprietary software, and the price is far from the only one.
Quality and Reliability
Open source software is basically a well-developed, high-quality software that is, technically excellent. That is the reason why companies choose open source software, not cost.
Usually, open source attracts the best talent in the industry. While proprietary software is developed by a small team of professionals, free and open source software is created by thousands of the most skilled and motivated developers.
Moreover, all users of open source software have access to the source code and debugging tools. Everyone can study and correct mistakes, suggest possible improvements and ensure continuous enhancement of product functionality.
Safety and Stability
Open source software provides a very high level of security. This is directly related to the availability of the source code. Thanks to the open public access, the source code is constantly under scrutiny. Errors and vulnerabilities are recognized and eliminated by the community almost immediately, which determines the excellent quality of products.
Adaptability and Customizability
Unlike proprietary software, open source software is easier to adapt to specific business requirements and changing market conditions. Since the source code is open to all developers, companies can use it to add the necessary functionality.
Open source software literally captures the world, significantly affecting all aspects of information technology. Over the past five years, the use of open source has doubled and reached unprecedented heights. Today, open source is the basis for virtually all operating systems, applications, databases, cloud computing, big data, etc. In the modern world of information technology, open source products offer tremendous opportunities for both companies and developers and outperform proprietary software in price, quality, security, reliability, and customizability.