Open Source software

Updated: Thu, 26 Mar 2015 by Rad

Open Source software - is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software is developed in a collaborative public manner.

Open-source software is the most prominent example of open-source development and often compared to (technically defined) user-generated content or (legally defined) open-content movements.

Open source software makes many of today's most popular programs and devices possible.

Various licensing for Open Source

A license defines the rights and obligations that a licensor grants to a licensee. Open source licenses grant licensees the right to copy, modify and redistribute source code (or content). These licenses may also impose obligations These licenses may also impose obligations (e.g any modifications must be published under the same license).

The most common open source licenses

  • Apache License
  • BSD LIcense
  • GNU General Public License
  • GNU Lesser General Public License
  • MIT License
  • Eclipse Public License
  • Mozilla Public License

At its heart, open source software is about freedom. On a technical level, open source software provides you with a program's complete source code. And source code, the set of programming instructions that tell a computer what to do, is what a software developer needs to make changes to a program.

Open Source is not free automatically

Basic misconception is that Open Source is always free. While code is usually available to everybody for free, many developers charge for additional support, installation of software on customer systems, setup or for customization and convenience.

While lowering costs remains the top reason companies elect to participate in Open Source projects, they now view open source as a way to drive innovation, shorten time to market, and improve the quality of their software.

Top tech companies supporting Open Source

Many of big tech companies actively support Open Source either by donating money to various third party developers to support software development or actively releasing their own code as Open Source.

  • Facebook - open sourced projects like: React, HHVM, presto, flow
  • Google - Android, Chromium, Go, WebM, V8 Javascript Engine
  • Microsoft - .NET, Orleans, Azure and Halo engine
  • Red Hat - Spacewalk, Fedore, Red Hat Enterprise Linux
  • IBM - contributes to many Apache projects, Geronimo, Websphere

Despite the benefits of commercial open source, the research found, companies have been slow to adopt it for collaboration. Thierry attributed that to bad brand image.

"For many years, non-IT business leaders have considered open source software the domain of developers and hackers."

"For many years, non-IT business leaders have considered open source software the domain of developers and hackers," says Olivier Thierry, Zimbra’s chief marketing officer. "This image placed an undue amount of trust in proprietary vendors, who are held accountable solely through monetary means, with no community to enforce transparency or verify quality, security and privacy. We found in the survey that two-thirds of IT professionals in the U.S. agree that commercial open source software means fewer bugs, and nearly as many believe it will boost quality compared to proprietary software."

"Transparency creates a community, which is a vast network of developers who are constantly testing, updating, and developing patches, the size of which is unmatched by proprietary alternatives".

Security is getting better

While source code is important for innovation, it's also important for the far more mundane task of ensuring security. While source-code access was viewed as a security liability in past Future of Open Source surveys (through 2012), 72% of respondents now cite "many more eyes" on the source code makes it more secure.

Security means not having to believe, but knowing. Only products under open-source licensing can shed the light when back doors exist, dishonest data collection and/or data exploitation happens or if the proper algorithms for creating security are chosen

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Open Source software from around web

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