This month’s topic is open source software. Previously, I wrote a piece on programming and operating systems which covered some basic information on it. Open source software can be an operating system or a program that runs on a computer. Let’s first define what open source means and why it should be used.
Open source software is software whose source code is available for modification or enhancement by anyone. The term “source code” is the part of the software that most computer users don’t ever see. It’s the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how software (programs or applications) works. Programmers who have access to a computer program’s source code can improve that program by adding features to it or fixing parts that don’t always work correctly.
Some software has source code that only be modified the person, team, or organization that created it and maintains exclusive control over it. This type of software is frequently called “proprietary software” or “closed source” software because its source code is the property of its original authors. They are the only ones legally allowed to copy or modify it. Microsoft Word and Adobe Photoshop are examples of proprietary software. In order to use proprietary software, computer users must agree that they will not do anything with the software that the software authors have not expressly permitted.
With open source software, the authors make the source code available to others who would like to view the code, copy it, learn from it, alter it, or share it. LibreOffice is a program that is similar to Microsoft Office Suite. The difference is LibreOffice is an open source program.
Many people prefer open source software because they have more control over how the software functions. They can examine the code to make sure it’s not doing anything they don’t want to do. Users who are non-programmers also benefit from open source software, because they can use this software for any purpose they wish. They are not restricted the way someone else thinks it should be used.
Open source software has its advantages and disadvantages. Let’s look at a few.
- Cost – One of the best parts of open source software is that is free. So, if you are looking for a substitute to popular software chances are you will find an open source program that will meet your needs.
- Learning new skills – If you want to learn more about computers and how they work, then open source software is a great place to start. While you are learning and building a knowledge base regarding coding, the communities around open source are filled with people making tweaks, changes, and finding solutions to coding and programming problems. It can be an excellent place to ask questions while learning more about computing in general.
- More Secure – Open source software is potentially more secure than commercial programs because the code is constantly being scrutinized by many programmers, not just a select few.
- Non-Technical – If you are not familiar with program coding, you are at the mercy of those who are unless you have a friend who can help modify the code.
- No Technical Support – If you are using any type of proprietary software you have many options to get help. With open source software support at this level is rarely provided for their applications.
- Documentation – Software may not be well documented, which could make it difficult to learn or manipulate.
- No Guarantee of Updates – Since you are not paying for open source software, no one is bound to provide updates.
I hope that you found this information helpful. Please feel free to forward it to others. If you would like to learn more about this topic or would like to request a topic, please contact me. If you missed any past newsletters or would like a printed copy, please visit my website at. www.mdsystemsolutions.com.
Until next time…Happy Computing!!!
I have worked is various positions as a system administrator, support technician, as a help desk support, and as an IT consultant in a corporate environment. I currently run a small business where I provide computer services such as hardware configuration, installation, for residential and for medium and small businesses. You can contact me by email or visit my website at https://www.mdsystemsolutions.com.