Open Source: what it is and how it works

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Open Source: The term Open Source is widely used to refer to programs that have no cost to use. Generally, they are software that serve as alternatives to other products of large corporations.

However, there is much more behind this term than users realize. Next, understand what Open Source is and how it works!

What is Open Source?

In short, Open Source are programs or apps distributed with source code. This allows anyone with programming knowledge to use, modify, enhance and even share it on the internet.

Typically, the source code is a piece of software that most users never see. However, having access to it allows programmers to make changes and correct parts that may not be working properly.

The idea of ​​making the source code available for free came up with Richard Stallman in 1983. The MIT programmer suggests that the codes should be accessible to users so that they have the freedom to use, modify and improve them.

Thus, Stallman started to release the free codes on his license, the GNU Public License. So, this new approach started an ideology around the creation of software that extends today through the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

How does Open Source software work?

In general, “closed source” software allows only creators to make changes legally. Then, the user only buys a license for use, as with the popular Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft Office.

Meanwhile, some of the Open Source programs are shared on public websites. The source code is available for users to use for any purpose they wish and the programs have different licenses and terms of use for the product.

It is also important to note that not all open source software is completely free. Developers may charge a fee to release the use of the source code or the sale of the program.

Why do people use Open Source programs?

The use of Open Source software has some advantages. For example, it gives more control for programmers to examine the code and make sure it contains nothing they don’t want or change something they don’t like.

Many users also believe that open source programs are more secure and stable than “closed source” products. As well as, it is possible to fix the problems without waiting for an update from the creators.

Another positive point is the community involved around Open Source programs. They are programmers, developers and other technology experts who work to improve and promote certain software.

Finally, young programmers can use the products to study. They serve as training to understand how applications and programs work and thus become better professionals.

What are the disadvantages of Open Source?

On the other hand, programs with open source are not free from flaws in quality, performance or security. Unfortunately, it is possible to find products with bugs or other problems that may impair the experience.

Another disadvantage of Open Source is that many software are not friendly to people without programming experience. They demand certain knowledge that is not common for the most “lay”.

In addition, programs may have compatibility problems. For example, they may require specialized drivers or even a non-standard PC configuration.

Famous examples of Open Source software

There is a giant list of products and sites of public interest with open source that are part of the daily lives of many people. Perhaps, they don’t even realize that, in fact, they are all Open Source programs.

An example of this is the Firefox internet browser. Developed by the Mozilla Foundation, it has several collaborators who help to keep it always safe and stable for the more than 300 million users.

Another famous example is the Linux operating system. Created in 1991, the software inspired many developers to create programs for the platform, expanding the open source environment.

Interestingly, even Microsoft has used several Open Source software to develop its own. A fact that shows that even mega corporations can make use of these products.