Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance. "Source code" is the part of software that most computer users don't ever see. It's the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software—a "program" or "application"—works. Programmers who have access to a computer program's source code can improve that program by adding features to it or fixing parts that don't always work correctly.
Advantages of Open-Source Software
While cost is a driving factor, OSS has several additional benefits:
- High-quality results when the source code is passed around, tested and fixed.
- It is a valuable learning opportunity for programmers. They can learn and apply skills to the most popular programs available today.
- Many consider open-source software more secure than proprietary software because bugs are identified and fixed quickly.
- Since open-source software is in the public domain, there is little chance it can become unavailable. This is important for long-term projects that rely on these tools for the duration of the project.
- Most of the software is free. Costs may arise later, however, such as subscriptions or support fees.
Examples of Open-Source Software
Open-source technologies helped establish much of the internet. Furthermore, many of the programs you and I use every day are based on open-source technologies. For example, Android OS and Apple’s OS X are based on the kernel and Unix/BSD open-source technologies, respectively.
Other examples of open-source software is:
- Mozilla's Firefox web browser
- Thunderbird email client
- PHP scripting language
- Python programming language
- Apache HTTP web server database system