Understanding Open Source Software

Understanding Open Source Software

Have you ever wanted to see the source code of your favorite software ? Well, you can definitely do that : provided that it is an Open Source Software.

To put in simple terms, "A software is said to be an Open-source software (OSS), when it is released under a license in which the owner grants users the rights to inspect, modify, enhance and further distribute the software and its source code".

Any user, with the adequate skill set, is eligible for participating in the development of an open source software. This brings a broad range of perspectives to the making while significantly lowering the development cost.

The Open Source Initiative


After the Netscape Communicator Internet Suite was released in June 1997 as a free software, the programming world started to reshape the free software movement to highlight the business potential of distributing and collaborating on a software's source code. As a result, in February 1998, the Open Source Initiative was formed.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) maintains a set of rules that define the open source software. This set of rules is called the Open Source Definition. The definition was based on the "Debian Free Software Guidelines", written and adapted primarily by Bruce Perens.

The OSI uses this definition to determine whether a software license shall be considered open source or not.

Why is Open Source Software favored by people ?


Their are many reasons why one would prefer to use Open Source Software.

Open Source Software is considered more secure and stable. Since the code is not secretive, any errors missed by the original developers can be fixed by the contributors. The presence of a large community enables them to release updates much quicker than proprietary software.

People have more control over Open Source Software as they can get knowledge of the full extent of the software's capabilities. With access to the source code, they can make sure that a software is not doing any task that they don't want it to.

For students, the access to source code allows them to study it, which in turn can improve their coding skills. While contributing code, students can benefit from the feedback given on their work.

Since the code is distributed publicly, the users can rest assured that their tools would not disappear even if the owners of the software stop working on it.

The Open Source Way


The Open Source Way is the set of fundamentals borrowed from the open source development models. These can very well be implemented in other fields to bring a positive impact similar to that brought by open source to the software world.

The principals of the open source way are :-


An open source provides its source code to all its users. This enables them to actually see the foundation of the system and keep a constant track of changes.

Providing the complete information to everybody, improves the efficiency of the task force. This allows the users to understand the collective view and build on each other ideas. It also improves the quality of decision making while understanding its impacts.


Open source gives its users the opportunity to work with each other from around the world.

This helps bring a variety of views on the table as well as modify other's work. Solving problems becomes much easier together than doing it alone.

In case of a large number of participants, open collaboration also helps different demographics place their opinions and ensure that no minority is left behind.


A community is a group of people who come together to fulfil a common purpose.

Communities help set particular goals related to their purpose and achieve them on a time bound basis. This helps maintain quality as these goals are based on the purpose as a whole rather than individual gains or lust.

They also help maintain decorum and uphold a code of conduct to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.

Inclusive meritocracy

By allowing people to express themselves freely, we include a large number of perspectives. By having this variety in perspectives, one can truly be sure that they have implemented the best possible ideas.

Widely used open-source software


Some of the widely used open-source software include the e-commerce platform 'osCommerce', internet browser 'Mozilla Firefox', the image editor 'GIMP' and the computer graphics program 'Blender'.

The Unix-like operating system GNU and Android, the popular operating system for mobile devices, are considered the most successful open-source products.

Audio/Video Software like VLC Media Player and Audacity, programming languages like Python and PHP, browsers like brave, computer utilities like 7 zip and BitTorrent are also open source.