Open Source, What the Heck is That? by@abram

Open Source, What the Heck is That?

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Abram 🐼

Backend (Python) Software Engineer

Open-source software (OSS) is software that is distributed with its source code, making it available for use, modification, and distribution with its original rights. Source code is the part of the software that most computer users never see; it’s the code computer programmers manipulate to control how a program or application behaves. Programmers who have access to source code can change a program by adding to it, changing it, or fixing parts of it that aren’t working properly.

OSS typically includes a license that allows programmers to change the software to best fit their needs and control how the software can be distributed.

What is Open Source Initiative**?**

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) promoted and protect open-source software and communities. In short, the OSI acts as a central informational and governing repository of open-source software. It provides rules and guidelines for how to use and interact with OSS, as well as providing code licensing information, support, definitions, and general community collaboration to help make the use and treatment of open source understandable and ethical.

However, because it is accessible to the public, it is typically very easy to get and incorporate into digital solutions.

Now, it is important to remember that just because open source software is free to use; it doesn't mean that just anyone can use it. Open-source software refers to lines of code (and its variations) that are available.

So, depending on the type of this software, you'll likely still need a qualified software developer to inspect that code, customize the software to your specifications, and integrate it into your current operations.

How does OSS work?

Open-source codes are usually stored in a public repository and shared publicly. Anyone can access the repository to use the code independently or contribute improvements to the design and functionality of the overall project.

OSS usually comes with a distribution license. This license includes terms that define how developers can use, study, change, and distribute the software. Five of the most popular licenses are:

  • MIT License
  • GNU Public License (GPL) 2.0—this is more restrictive and requires that copies of changed code are made available for public use
  • Apache License 2.0
  • GNU Public License (GPL) 3.0
  • BSD License 2.0 (3-clause, New or Revised)—this is less restrictive

When source code is changed, OSS must include what was altered as well as the methods involved. Depending on the license terms, the software resulting from these modifications may or may not be required to be made available for free.

Some examples of OSS

  • GNU/Linux - one of the most user-friendly open-source software on the market. It is most commonly used on Android devices and desktops. What makes this operating system different from the others is that it costs nothing and it is incredibly customizable.
  • Python - a programming and scripting language used by custom software developers.
  • Mozilla Firefox - a customizable internet browser and free open-source software.
  • LibreOffice - a complete office suite that offers presentations, documents, spreadsheets and databases.
  • Gimp - It offers similar features to some of the expensive tools on the market, including various filters and effects, and yet it is free.
  • VLC Media Player - It allows you to optimize your audio and video files for a particular hardware configuration and also offers a plethora of extensions and skins which allows you to create customized designs.
  • Blender - a 3D graphics and animation tool that supports motion tracking, simulation, animation, video editing, rendering, modelling and much more.

Advantages and Disadvantages of OSS

Advantages:

  • Open-source software is free.
  • Open-source is flexible; developers can examine how the code works and freely change dysfunctional or problematic aspects of the application to better fit their unique needs.
  • Open-source is stable; the source code is distributed publicly, so users can depend on it for their long-term projects since they know that the code’s creators cannot simply discontinue the project or let it fall into disrepair.
  • Open-source fosters ingenuity; programmers can use pre-existing code to improve the software and even come up with their innovations.
  • Open-source comes with a built-in community that continuously changes and improves the source code.
  • Open-source provides great learning opportunities for new programmers

Disadvantages:

  • Open-source can be harder to use and adopt because of difficulty setting it up and the lack of friendly user interfaces.
  • Open-source can pose compatibility issues. When attempting to program proprietary hardware with OSS, there is often a need for specialized drivers that are typically only available from the hardware manufacturer.
  • Open-source software can pose liability issues. Unlike commercial software, which is fully controlled by the vendor, open source rarely contains any warranty, liability, or infringement indemnity protection. This leaves the consumer of the OSS responsible for maintaining compliance with legal obligations.
  • Open source can incur unexpected costs in training users, importing data, and setting up required hardware.

Why did we choose Open Source Technologies to build Digital Stade?

We believe using an open development model helps create more stable and innovative technologies. Not all "open source software" is stable, most times the author of an open-source can decide to no longer work on the project. When such happens, the community built around the project dies, and so does the software.

Conclusion

Open source is amazingly powerful, my friend. So many established innovative companies like Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, etc all use Open Source software. The most popular front-end framework (React) is Open Source. Vue, Angular is too. Can you see? Open Source is everywhere!


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