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The Reason For Why There Is Open Source Software

The Reason For Why There Is Open Source Software

Open source – That which allows users to modify and share; the design is public, so anybody can change it.

Open source software – Software with code that can be modified or enhanced as and when required, and anyone, with knowledge of writing codes can do it and share them. By changing the source code, programmers can manipulate an application, change a few features, add or delete features and fix parts that may not work correctly. Besides, open source is FREE and there is no license fee attached to it.

The main difference between normal software and open source software

This is the main difference – programmers can change the code; this is not possible in proprietary software or closed source software. The original authors of the software hold the copyright to the software and nobody else is given legal rights to make changes to it.

Now let’s examine why some companies opt to have open source software?

Of course, the obvious reason is because open source softwares are free, but there is something else that attracts people to it. By releasing a software and making it free, companies are looking to capitalize on the fact, by releasing additional products or softwares. Through open source software, they get a lot of publicity and their products will be bought. Let’s take the case of WordPress here:

WordPress, an open source community is not the product of a single company, but the result of the joint efforts of tens of thousands of developers and programmers. Of course, there is a team that led the initial project, but anyone can suggest changes, add features, report bugs and indulge in activities that make the software better. When WordPress took off, other companies came forward and started capitalizing on it. StudioPress is one such company. As a hugely successful multi-million dollar business, StudioPress releases several WordPress themes that have become popular. These themes are paid, and that’s how the company earns its revenue. Similarly, several companies have released plugins in association with WordPress for example, BackupBuddy, Sucuri, OptinMonster, EPEngine and more.

Each contribution made to the WordPress software is free for anyone to use, but licensed. If you are making modifications to the software, you are not making changes to the entire code, but you will still own the copyright to the changes made through you.

Now that you have understood the basic reason for using open source software, lets explore other reasons that contribute to its popularity:

Keeping the costs down

Open source is a cost-saving technique for companies. For example, Netflix is open source, and it charges a negligible amount as fees, around $8 per month. Everything in Netflix is built on open source and they attach great importance to content, and on testing framework or building an operating system.

Other companies consider open source software something like Lego bricks. They get the blocks and they build something with it. For them customization with an open source software is less expensive. The legion of custom development of apps is thus coming back after a letdown for about 10 years. During this 10-year span it was commercial applications and software-as-service that were the most popular ones.

Open source allows for improved quality

The best thing about open source softwares is that if there is a flaw in any of the codes, it can be identified and corrected by anyone in the ever widening developer community. When a company develops the software, it may take ages before a flaw is detected. Some companies use custom-developed applications and integrates open-source components into them so they can enjoy the benefits of open source as well.

The future lies with open source

Look at every start-up that you know. They have based their venture capital based on open source (or at least a large part of it). Many people might say that 10 years down the line, software applications will be closed and less collaborative. But then when you look at the bright side, you have the perfect example of Microsoft sourcing their primary development framework. Even IBM, Apple, Swift, Adobe are all doing this. So, some say that open source is here to stay and will not fade away.

Make the necessary bug fixing as and when they are discovered

The biggest disadvantage of proprietary software is that bug fixing cannot be done quickly. It will have to wait till all the people involved in the software meet, have detailed conferences, consider the sales and marketing aspect, think of the legalities and so on. When the software is open source, the large developer community can fix the bug anytime.

Ideas from various sources flow in

In open source, there is absolutely no end to the dearth of ideas that can flow in. Once you have the basic code, anyone anywhere in the world can perfect it, undertake challenges that were impossible to another developer and make a robust code. In short, there is a marketplace of ideas and the diversity of it all comes at no additional cost.

As open source have modular architecture, the software code would be flexible as well, and hence suitable for a variety of uses and gels with various environments.

Conclusion

It is no wonder why open source has become so popular. Businesses benefit a lot because open source software makes them agile. Since it is open to a lot of people, open source software can really speed up the process of software development and relate to market demands.

Interesting links about the topic:
Why Open Source Is Good for Business
6 Reasons for consuming or publishing open source software

Pictures: Flickr.com/ grok_code | Tyler Nienhouse | Sandra Schön


The author: Reema Oamkumar is engaged as a thought leader at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.

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