For someone who is not too much into the computer field, the term “open source” may sound absolutely original. Fundamentally speaking, it refers to anything that is publicly available and accessible. Therefore, it can be conveniently shared or even modified as per the requirement. An open source software, as such, is a type of software that has its source code available publicly for anyone to analyze, modify, or even enhance when the need arises. While the source code of any application is usually not a concern for the user, it plays a crucial role for the programmer/developer since it is what defines the functionality of the software. Manipulation of the source code enables the programmer to customize the software or fix a certain bug to make it impeccable for the end user.
Difference Between An Open Source And Closed Source Software:
There is a bunch of computer programs with their source code strictly under the control of the individual, team, or the organization that developed it. It is within the rights of the developers only to modify or customize the software as per the requirement. Such a category of software is commonly referred to as the proprietary software or the closed course software. Tasks related to inspection or alteration of such software are only for the original authors of the application. To make use of the software, the end user must agree to the terms and conditions by signing a license that forbids them to copy, distribute, analyze, or modify the program in any way. Adobe Acrobat, Microsoft Office, or McAfee anti-virus are a few of the examples of closed source software.
Open source software is widely different from its closed source counterpart in that the source code is publicly available for anyone who would like to copy it, learn from it, analyze it, or even customize it to serve the functionality as per the individual requirement. There is usually no forbiddance in the distribution of the software by the end user either. Open Office, VLC media player, or Clam antivirus are a few of the prominent examples of the open source software.
One thing that needs to be kept in mind is that an open source software does also require the end user to sign a license, however, the terms and conditions of such a license are greatly different as compared to the closed software. More often than not, it is accentuated in the license that the user is permitted to make use of the software in whatever fashion he wishes. Be it for learning purposes, customization, analysis, or sharing, it is entirely within the right of the user to do so. In an event of alteration of the program before distribution, it is required for the user to reveal its modified source code along with the application as highlighted in the license agreement. More often than not, the user is also not permitted to charge a fee for the modified source code of the software once it is released after being customized.
The open source software is widely popular since they are known to improve sharing and collaborations between developers, teams, and organizations by enabling customizations as per the requirements, which can also be made a permanent part of their specific projects. Such software does also play an indispensable role in promoting learning and education by making the source code available to the public and binding the user to do the same once the application has been modified and re-shared.
There is no argument over the fact that open source, as well as the closed source software, have their importance and none can be given a definite preference over the other. The open source software, however, is known to be more user-friendly with an added feature of higher customizability. Specifically, when it comes to learning, an open source software is pretty much the only option available at the disposal of young and aspiring programmers and developers. If you happen to be one such individual, it is time for you to get your hands on the source code of a non-proprietary software and start inspecting and analyzing. The wealth of knowledge and information that you’d be able to extract is truly unprecedented. So what are you waiting for?