What is Open Source Software?

Open Source Software

Globally, Android operating software is used in the majority of today’s smartphones, even beating out Apple’s iOS. One of Android’s biggest benefits is the operating software’s capability for in-depth customization. Manufacturers exploit this feature to create customized software that ships with their phones, packed with tailored features and themes. Additionally, Android users can further personalize the software to their liking. Have you wondered how this is possible? The answer is Open Source Software (OSS).

As for Android, it is built on Linux, a leading open source operating software. Google, the owner of Android, makes the source codes of these core Android services publicly available. Additionally, Microsoft joined the Linux bandwagon in 2016 with Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). This compatibility layer allowed users to run Linux binary executables on Windows directly.

 

What is Open Source Software?

Introduced in the late 1990s by the Open Source Initiative, open source software is a computer software released under the open source license. This open source license enables the copyright owner of the software to give users permission to use, study, modify, and distribute the software and its source code to the public. This differs from traditional, ‘closed-source’ software, where source code is kept private from users and is controlled by the developer under strict copyright laws.

Though similar-sounding, free and open source software are fundamentally different. Free software is offered by a manufacturer without a fee but may or may not come with its source code. Therefore, it is not covered under the open source license. On the other hand, open source software is protected under the open source license and offers reusable source code that users can edit for free.

The emergence of microservices has further loosened the tight-knit definitions of traditional software and applications, transforming them instead into smaller, scalable units, each responsible for a subset of work. In addition, microservices have increased the need for open source software due to its customizability.

 

Benefits of Open Source Software

The advantages of open source software appeal to both developers and organizational leaders. Significant benefits include:

  • Open source software is offered free of cost.
  • Open source software is community-backed and stable.
  • Open source software offers flexibility in terms of customizations via add-ins, extensions, and plug-ins. Source code can be edited for added modifications.
  • By using pre-existing code, open source platforms foster innovation as developers enhance and optimize the source code.

 

Examples of Popular Open Source Software

 Since its inception, the open source platform has led to some of the world’s largest and most popular software used for a variety of different purposes. A few of which include:

1) GNU/Linux: Over the last 30 years, the most prominent open source software has been Linux. Initially developed for limited release in 1991, Linux has since morphed into an umbrella term comprising hundreds of distros and full-fledged forks, including Android and ChromeOS. One study revealed that more than 25% of developers worldwide work primarily in Linux.

2) Mozilla Firefox: Before Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox was Internet Explorer’s biggest rival. This open source internet browser introduced tab-based browsing and opened the door for thousands of third-party plug-ins and extensions to further customize the browsing experience. Firefox’s popularity has since dwindled significantly as it currently holds 3.98% of the browsing market share globally, down from 31% in 2009. However, it is available across all major platforms, including Windows, macOS, iOS, Android, Linux, and even ChromeOS.

3) Audacity: Released over two decades ago, Audacity remains popular among podcasters, singers, audio engineers, and the like. Universally praised for its near-unlimited array of extensions and an enormous dev community driving continuous improvements, this open source audio editor is used for recording, editing, and mixing audio.

4) GIMP: GNU Image Manipulation Tool, or GIMP, has been a favorite in the open source community since its release in 1996. Even today, GIMP remains the best free alternative to Adobe Photoshop, with its extensive feature set, thousands of plug-ins, and a robust developer community.

5) VLC Media Player: VLC Media Player is one of the most popular all-rounder media-playing software globally. Capable of playing almost all video, media, and audio formats – VLC offers nearly unmatched compatibility in its class. Available for various platforms (Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS), VLC Media Player also supports a multitude of customization options. These include visualizations, extensions, and even hardware-specific optimizations.

6) Blender: This open source 3D computer graphics toolset offers an array of advanced features. Blender enjoys immense popularity among animation professionals.

7) LibreOffice and OpenOffice: Rivals to Microsoft Office, LibreOffice and OpenOffice offer a near-identical suite of office tool features for free, including a diverse array of add-ins and extensions.

8) Python and PHP: Python is the world’s most popular programming language, while PHP is used extensively in web development and content creation backend. PHP is the backbone of platforms such as Spotify and Slack. Both these open source languages offer almost endless integrations and are very easy to learn and customize.

9) KeePass: This open source software for Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile devices is a lightweight password management tool. KeePass uses industry-standard AES256 algorithms to encrypt stored passwords and uses multi-factor authentication for added security. Moreover, the encrypted password database can be moved between devices or copied to external storage, and hundreds of available plug-ins offer unmatched customization options compared to competitors in its category.

10) WordPress: As the most popular content management system (CMS) in the world, WordPress powers around 35% of all websites globally. Because WordPress is open source software, it boasts a large developer community that has improved, created, and advanced the capabilities of the website platform. Key outcomes of include a vast library of plugins and themes to quickly set up professional websites. WordPress users range from casual bloggers to massive corporations, such as Time Magazine, TechCrunch, and Vogue.

 

There are numerous benefits of using the open source platform. With massive customization options via add-ins, extensions, and plug-ins, open source software offers core functionalities alongside editable source code. Organizations can leverage these features to modify the software or application according to their needs.

Are you interested in developing a platform using open source software? Quantilus can help. Contact us today at info@quantilus.com, and we can set up a time to discuss your vision and goals for the project.

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