Open source means that something is publicly available for free, can be shared, and can be individually modified according to a person’s needs. Free software or OSS is a computer program licensed from a developer that grants users the right to modify, study, and distribute the original or modified software to anyone for any purpose.
The open-source term developed relating to software development in the design of software in a particular way. Open source codes are to be used for various purposes such as study, customization and much more. It allows users to tailor the software to work according to their personal needs. Open source software, initiatives, projects, products fall under the rule of community participation, meritocracy, prototyping, transparency, etc. Open source software can be developed collaboratively, which means users can contribute online, and there can be any number of participants.
History of OSS
In 1983, MIT programmer Richard Stallman founded the ideological movement of source code to be freely accessible to all. According to him, a program must be freely available and accessible to all so that it can be modified, understood, learned and improved. He started releasing the source code for free under the GNU Public License. In 1998, he formed the basis of the Open-Source Initiative.
Open source initiative
OSI also called as an open-source initiative was launched for the promotion and protection of OSS communities. OSI is a type of central information body governing free software. It sets out guidelines and rules for the uses and interaction of free software. It also provides lease administration software information, definitions, and general community support.
How OSS works
Open source code is stored and shared on public servers. Everyone is allowed to access the server and use the code accordingly and contribute their design and functionality to the project. It comes with a distribution license. The license contains a definition, how developers can modify, study, use and distribute the final program. When the source code is changed, it is mandatory to mention what has been changed and the method used to do so. The developer who customized it can restrict the availability of the code accordingly. The five most popular licenses are:
- Apache License 2.0
- MIT license
- GNU GPL 2.0 (General Public License) – it is restrictive
- GNU GPL 3.0 (General Public License)
- BSD 2.0 license – it is less restrictive
Bugs in open source software
In open source software, several developers modify and improve the source code, which increases its quality and performance. But, there can be security holes. But, having a large number of developers means that identifying and fixing bugs is done at a rapid pace. Whatever the type of software, whether it is open source or paid, bugs exist. The responsibility for fixing bugs in paid software is the seller’s, while in open source it is the end user.