Open source software is a type of software where the developers and service providers grant users the access to modify, change, and develop the software as they use it. This type of software is significantly different from closed source software, where the user gets the completely-finished software and does not have the access or the license to modify or change the software.
The objective of developing open source software is to provide users with a framework or shell of the software and allow them to manipulate it, as and how they like it, to suit their personal requirements and working style.
Open source software is the result of and leads to the development of a highly collaborative system, where developers and users work together to make the software more user-friendly. This software is usually maintained by volunteer developers who actively seek ways to make the software easier to use.
A great example is Mozilla Firefox. This is an open source software which allows individual developers to contribute to the development of the software. Developers from around the world can work together on various focus areas including – coding, testing, writing, and translating. These volunteers can also work as trainers and helpers, assisting users in using the software more effectively.
Open source software is a highly fluid and ever-changing entity that undergoes constant change and development. It is well-loved because of the benefits it brings to both the user and the developer.
Advantages of open source software
- To the user
- It is a safe and secure software to use, with volunteers updating security measures frequently
- It can be customized to the user’s requirements very easily and quickly
- It can be scaled immediately, without any hindrance
- Users have greater freedom to use and change the software as they see fit
- It is less resource-intensive and will work on older systems
- Bugs and viruses can be easily spotted and fixed
- Customer support is excellent; as multiple communities are always available should users need assistance
- It is inexpensive and easy to procure
- It is easier to switch vendors
- To the developer
- It is easier to develop, because of the lack of specifications
- Development costs are extremely low
- It allows developers to make software changes and upgrades on-the-fly
- It prevents developers from wasting time and money on the development of functionality that clients rarely use
- There are no IP or copyright infringement risks involved
- It allows developers to use state-of-the-art technology
- It allows developers to hone their skills and experiment on live software
- It gives developers a chance to interact with a global community of peers