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What is Open Source Software?

What is Open Source Software?

These days we keep hearing about software which can be altered, as per one's needs. In this write-up, we will get to know more about it.
Bhakti Satalkar
When we buy or for that matter download a software, it normally comes in ready-to-use version. Its code is compiled, due to which the internal code is not visible to the user. In other words, the source code is not visible and/or accessible to the user. Therefore, making any kind of changes to it, is almost impossible. This is an advantage which is harnessed by most commercial manufacturers. Compiling a code helps them to keep the source code to themselves and reduce the chances of it being copied. This also ensures that they are able to work on enhancing the product and give better quality product with every release.


There are different types of applications which have come into the market, where the source code comes compiled with the software. The end user is encouraged to modify and/or customize it. The makers encourage people with interest in the field to alter the code, which results in minimized errors code. There are many open source software examples. Apart from these, there are such computer operating systems as well. The most commonly used ones are Linux and Ubuntu. These are different types of operating systems where changes can be carried out by the end user to suit his needs.

Freely Distributed
It is important that it is freely distributed. In some cases, it can also be a part of a package which is sold. The classic example of this can be Red Hat distribution of Linux. There is no restriction on the license which prevents any one from selling or giving away entire or a part of the software. There is no need to pay any royalty or any kind of fees for the same.

Source Code and Redistribution
The source code comes along with the compiled code. A user is allowed to make changes to the source code to suit his needs. The person is also allowed to distribute the modified version, which will have the same terms as the license of the original one.

No Place for Discrimination
No kind of discrimination is made. Any person or a group of people are discriminated upon. Likewise, there is no restriction on where it can be used. It can be used for business, research or for home purposes. There are no terms and conditions laid down which restrict its use.

Free License
The license comes with its own terms and conditions and there are no restrictions, whatsoever. In case it is not compatible, there can be a restriction, but no licensing restriction exists. At the same time, it is important to note that its license should be technology neutral.

One of the most important advantages is that its core is free. Therefore, more and more startups are turning towards open source. The other advantage is that the source code can be modified, therefore, one does not have to wait for the next version to be released for the enhancements required.

Every coin has two sides. Likewise, there are certain disadvantages as well. One of the concerns is the lack of technical support. Therefore, in case of a problem the person may not know, whom to turn to. It can be attributed to the fact that it is changed by different users, and lending technical support is certainly not possible.

The disadvantage is that in some cases the projects can meet an untimely end. The other possibility is that infighting among the different members can cause harm to its development. A person should be able to differentiate between genuine and malicious one.

Looking at the way this software stands today, it is very clear that it does have a bright future, in spite of some of its shortcomings. More and more people are taking to it and also find it convenient to use.