The word open source refers to something that users can change and distribute when their creation is freely available.
The word emerged in the context of software development in order to describe a particular approach to the construction of computer programs. Today, though, "open source" describes a wider range of values—what we call "the open source way." Open source programs, goods or campaigns support and celebrate open exchange concepts, collective engagement, rapid prototyping, openness, meritocracy, and community-oriented growth.
What is Open Source Software?
Open Source Software is a source code software that anybody can inspect, alter, and improve. "Source code" is an aspect of software that most machine users never see; it's code computer programmers will manipulate to alter how a piece of software—"program" or "application"—works. Programmers having access to the computer program's source code may improve the program by inserting or altering parts that do not always work properly.
What is the distinction between open source applications and other forms of software?
Some software has a source code that can only be changed by the individual, team, or company that developed it—and retains exclusive control over it. People refer to this kind of software as "proprietary" or "closed source" software.
Only the original authors of proprietary software may legitimately copy, inspect, and change proprietary software. And in order to use proprietary software, computer users must consent (usually by signing the license shown for the first time they run this software) that they would not do something with software that the developers of the software have not specifically approved. Examples with proprietary applications are Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.
Open source licenses impact how people can access, research, change, and share apps. In general, open source licenses give program users authorization to use open source applications for whatever reason they choose. Any open source licenses—what some people call "copyleft" licenses—stipulate that anyone who releases an updated open source program must then share the source code for that program along with it. In comparison, certain open source licenses stipulate that someone who changes and shares a program with another must then share the source code of the program without charging a licensing fee.
By default, open source software licenses encourage collaboration and redistribution because they allow others to make improvements to the source code and integrate those changes into their own projects. They empower computer programmers to reach, view, and change open source software anytime they wish, as long as they allow others to do the same when they post their work.
Is open source software just essential for computer programmers?
No. Open source programming and open source thinking help both programmers and non-programmers.
Since early inventors developed a huge part of the Internet on open source technologies—like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server application—everyone who uses the Internet today benefits from open source applications.
Any time computer users access web sites, check messages, chat with friends, watch music online, or play multiplayer video games, their laptops, cell phones, or gaming consoles, link to a global network of computers using open source software to route and relay their data to the "local" devices in front of them. Computers that perform all this vital work are usually situated in distant areas that users don't necessarily see or can't physically access—which is why some people call these computers "remote computers."
More and more people rely on remote machines to execute activities they would otherwise perform on their local devices. For example, they can use online word processing, email management, and image editing tools that they do not install and run on their personal computers. Instead, they simply view these services on remote machines via a web browser or a smartphone device. They're involved in "remote computing." if they do this.
Some people call remote computing cloud computing because it includes practices (such as saving data, exchanging images, or viewing videos) that include not only local hardware but also a global network of remote computers that form an "atmosphere" surrounding them.
Cloud networking is an increasingly important feature of daily life with Internet-connected computers. Any cloud computing systems, such as Google Software, are proprietary. Others, like Cloud and Nextcloud, are open source.
Cloud computing applications run "on top" external software that makes them function seamlessly and effectively, so people also say that software running "underneath" cloud computing applications serves as a "platform" for such applications. Cloud computing systems can be either open access or closed source. OpenStack is an example of an open source cloud computing platform.
Why do people prefer to use open source software?
People prefer open source applications over proprietary software for a variety of reasons, including:
Control. Some people choose open source applications so they have greater power over this type of software. They can look at the code and make sure it doesn't do things they don't like to do, and they can change aspects of it they don't like. Users who are not programmers often benefit from open source tools, so they can use this software for whatever reason they want—not only the way someone else feels they can.
Training. Some people prefer open source software because it allows them to become better programmers. Since open source code is freely available, students can quickly review it while they learn how to build better applications. Students should also discuss their work with others, welcoming comments and criticism as they grow their skills. When people find bugs in the source code of the programs, they will share those errors with others to help them avoid making the same mistakes themselves.
Security. Some people favor open-source applications because they think it more safe and reliable than proprietary software. Since anybody can download and change open source applications, anyone might see and fix the mistakes or omissions that the original developers of the program might have ignored. And since too many programmers can work on a piece of open source software without waiting for approval from the original authors, they can patch, update, and upgrade open source software faster than proprietary software.
Stability. Some developers prefer open source applications over proprietary software for massive, long-term projects. Since programmers freely share the source code for open source applications, users who rely on the software for essential purposes may be assured that their resources will not vanish or fall into disrepair if their original developers stop working on them. In comparison, open source software appears to be implemented and maintained in compliance with open practices.
Community. Open source software also encourages a group of consumers and developers to build around it. This is not limited to open source; many common technologies are the topic of meetings and user groups. But in the case of open source, the audience is not just a fanbase that buys into (emotionally or financially) an affluent user group; it's people who create, evaluate, use, encourage, and eventually influence the apps they enjoy.
Doesn't "open source" mean that everything is free of charge?
No. This is a widespread misunderstanding about what "open source" entails, and the consequences of the term are not just commercial.
Open source software programmers may charge money for the open source software they make or add to. But in some cases, since an open source license might force them to release their source code when they sell software to others, some programmers feel that charging customers money for software resources and maintenance (rather than the software itself) is more lucrative. This way, their apps stay free, and they make money to help people update, use, and troubleshoot them. While some open source software may be free of charge, skills in programming and troubleshooting open source software can be quite valuable. Many employers specifically seek to hire programmers with experience working on open source software.