By: Ethan Alfonso
Open source programming is the development of software that is neither privatized nor restricted in its development and sale. This style of development has been around since the formation of the Free Software movement in the 1980s. At its base concept, an open-source project is made freely accessible to the public to study, write and distribute as a developer wishes. The title came further when the same movement changed its name to the open-source initiative due to the ambiguity of the term “free software” not specifically centered around being free to the consumer.
Open source works differently from the standard procedure because of its leniency toward public consumption. Compared to nearly all other forms of software license, open-source is one of the least rigid ways of owning and distributing content. Under an OS license, an external user can use, display, copy and modify all while the original owner retains copyright. In addition, many types of non-protective OS licenses allow for sublicensing from other products.
Open Source development carries several key advantages with it, including the following:
Open-source software is by definition open to all, and with that comes external visibility that is beneficial to the proprietor and the user, as all changes, decisions, and updates can be accessed publicly, creating more trust between the consumer and producer.
A major draw to OSS is the reduction in cost. Without having to pay hefty costs associated with closed, off-the-shelf proprietary software. This change usually entails the costs of transitioning to OSS and a licence renewal that is substantially less expensive than those given prior.
The use of open-source licensing on a product allows for more fluid reuse and extension of pre-licensed source code. This reduces technical debt, which leaves the OSS adopter to flexibly adapt to the needs of a project as it inevitably evolves. With the adoption of other open source technologies, developers can easily transfer from one developing software to another without vendor lock-in.
The wide-range uses of open source have already been recognized by the most prominent tech companies. Google and Microsoft were early adopters of the methodology, with google supplying over 20 million lines of OS-licensed code. Multiple OS licensors have taken the mantle of aiding rising businesses moving towards open source, the Open Source Initiative being the best recognized of them.
While it might not be the cure-all for copyrighting software, open-source should definitely keep a noteworthy place in the computer age. Its availability to adapt software without the red undeniably appeals to both the greatest minds and the greatest accountants, for both altruistic and fiscal reasons.