What is Open Source, Free or Open Source Software?

The term open source software refers to something that can be modified and shared because it was designed to be accessible to the general public.

Open Source software
Open Source software

What is Open Source, Free or Open Source software?

It is software whose code is available to be modified and is accessible to anyone.

The source code is part of the software that cannot be seen by users, it is the programming code that can be manipulated to change the functioning of a piece of software, program or application.

When programmers have access to this code, they can make improvements or corrections to parts that do not work correctly.

Open Source modification conditions

Software that cannot be modified except by the person, team or organization that created it is known as proprietary software or closed source software. In this case, only the authors have the legal right to copy or modify the software. The users accept this restriction by means of a license of use, generally accepted at the beginning of the installation, so that the user cannot do anything without the express authorization of the authors.

More details about the commercial conditions of open source licenses can be found on this  webpage

In Open Source, on the other hand, the authors make the source code available so that others can view, copy, learn, modify or share it. Examples of this type of software are LibreOffice (an unlicensed version of Office software, similar to Microsoft Office) and Android (Google’s operating system used by millions of mobile devices worldwide).

Open Source License

However, open source users also accept a license, but it differs greatly from proprietary software licenses. Open Source licenses promote collaboration, so they allow you to make modifications to the source code and incorporate them into your own projects.

Some Open Source licenses ensure that no one can alter and share a program, without also sharing the source code, without any charge or payment. So programmers can view and modify a program, but they must also share their modifications with others; otherwise they would be violating the terms of the Open Source license.

Importance of Free or Open Source Software

Open Source is not only important for programmers, in fact most of the platforms that make the Internet possible are based on Open Source systems such as the Linux operating system or the Apache Web server. This means that everyone really benefits from Open Source.

People prefer open source because they have the ability to have more control over this kind of software. This way they make sure that the applications work the way they want them to. Also people can use the software for other purposes for which it was designed.

For software students, seeing and understanding open source allows them to adopt good practices in software development.

It is also considered more stable and secure than proprietary software, because anyone can go in and modify or fix bugs that were overlooked by the original authors.

Many also adopt it because they are tools that remain in place for the long term, without the fear that the original authors will disappear, along with new developments in proprietary software.

There is a misconception that open source is free, the author can charge or request contribution for the free software created. However, some open source licenses require payment when their source code is sold to others, also other programmers charge for other services, such as installation and support. Thus the software remains free of charge, but its authors can charge for helping others to install, use and support it.

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