Open Source and Why I Like It
This week, I thought that I’d talk about the concept of ‘open source’. You’ve probably heard the phrase before but may not know exactly what it means so…
What does open source mean?
Open source is a production and development philosophy that promotes open universal access to the source code of software. It also encourages universal distribution of the source code and allows for improvements by anyone. Any improvements can then be redistributed under the same open conditions.
Basically, open source is an alternative to the traditional model of proprietory software owned and sold by corporations. Open source software is typically developed as a collaborative project in which developers can make improvements and then release them to the community.
I am, of course, oversimplifying but that’s the gist.
Here’s a list of a few things that are open source:
- Mozilla Firefox – browser
- Open Office – office suite
- Mozilla Thunderbird – email client
- Notepad++ – source code editor
- WordPress – content management system
Benefits of open source software
- It’s almost always free
- You can customise it as much as you like
- It’s independent from any companies so it won’t disappear due to bankruptcy
- There’s a huge amount of active community support
- It’s being continuously updated
Drawbacks of open source software
- The user interface tends not to be a priority so it may not be very easy to use
- Developers have different ideas on where the software should go so they can lose focus or ‘fork’ in other directions
- There’s no official support – it’s all community based so you need to do any solutions yourself
- It can have a few bugs – but then all software can
- The cool stuff gets done but the boring basic stuff can get ignored
If you don’t get this comic, here’s an explanation
I guess the main reason I use open source software is that I like the philosophy behind it. It just seems right to share knowledge and expertise and help each other as a community. Sharing is caring after all.
Open source software isn’t created for profit – it’s created for love.
And on that tree-hugging note, go forth and be wonderful. Bye.
19th May 2013