Open Source and its Utility for Coders

    Open Source and its Utility for Coders

    Open Source Software (OSS) is popular amongst coders of all levels. Today, most of the software that works on real-life coding problems, runs on open source platforms. 

    The Open Source Initiative (OSI) was created in 1998 to encourage and protect open-source software and communities. It acts as a governing and central informational repository of open source software, sets rules and guidelines for using OSS, and offers support, definitions, code licensing information, and a general community platform to make open source easily usable ethically.

    OSS usually comes with a distribution license, which includes the terms of using, modifying, studying, and distributing the software.

    Here are Five of the Most Famous Licenses:

    • GNU General Public License (GPL) 2.0 – this is more confining, and you have to make the modified code available for public use
    • GNU General Public License (GPL) 3.0
    • MIT License
    • Apache License 2.0
    • BSD License 2.0 (3-clause, New or Revised) – this is less confining

    The resulting software from these modifications may or may not be free; it depends on the licensing terms.

    Here are Some Examples of OSS

    • GNU/Linux
    • GIMP
    • Mozilla Firefox
    • SugarCRM
    • Apache web server
    • VLC media player
    • JQuery
    • VNC
    • LibreOffice

    Can OSS be Bug-Free?

    Many may assume that OSS can’t be bug-free as several coders have access to the kernel and can constantly modify, to keep it bug-free. However, it’s a broad community of developers, so one can expect faster bug identification and fix. Remember, every software will have flaws – proprietary or open source. For proprietary software, vendors are responsible for security updates and tools, but for open-source software, consumers can work collectively to keep it more secure, in real time.

    The Differences between Closed Source and Open Source Software

    Aspects Closed source Open source
    Price Varies on the software’s scale Has nominal or zero charges
    Customization The feedback about bug fixes, features, and enhancements needs to be sent to the manufacturer. Completely customizable if the license allows. Expertise is needed to self-customize.
    User-friendliness The focus is on adaptability and user experience since the software is made to gain profit. Depends on the project goals and the maintenance team but generally it is less friendly.
    After-sales support The service-level agreement (SLA) defines the kind of service you get. Also, there are dedicated support teams if mentioned so. Some popular ones, like SUSE or Red Hat offer plenty of support. And, there are always enough OSS associations, forums and mailing lists that are constantly active on kernels, so very easy to run collaborative additives.
    Security The software owner offers a certain level of support, depending on the SLA. The software owner/distributor handles the bugs. Being open source, bug identification and fixing is comparatively quick.
    Vendor lock-in Proprietary software bears large costs. Changing vendors or moving to OSS may prove costly. No vendor lock-in but system integration may create dependency.
    Stability Older solutions have proven to be more stable as new products have challenges. If the app discontinues, it becomes problematic for the customer. Depends on the current user base, the software maintenance team, and from how long the software is in the market.
    Popularity Some industries prefer proprietary software, especially the reputed and older ones. Some OSS like Linux and Apache are very popular and lead the market.
    Total cost of ownership (TCO) Higher, as it depends on the expanse of the user base, which is typically all the machines in any organization. Lower and upfront as there is zero or minimal cost involved that depends on the maintenance level.
    Community participation Closed community on the manufacturer level. Open Source’s backbone is the community that participates in all activities.
    Interoperability with other OSS Depends on the development standards. Based on the goals and maintenance level but it is easier.
    Tax calculation Definite with standard regulations. Difficult to calculate with undefined monetary value.
    Suitability for production launch In a large-scale production environment, it might not be neatly designed and tested. Commercial software has to go through multiple rounds of testing. However, a few issues might still persist.
    Warranty Available. Not available