Open Source Software brought the digital revolution. Are you familiar with any of these software or terms?
- Android, Linux, Debian, Ubuntu, Centos, SuSE, OpenBSD, …
- Openoffice, Quick Office, Libre Office.
- Mozilla Firefox, Chromium (Google Chrome is based on it)
- GIMP, Inkscape
- Apache, Nginx, MySQL, MariaDB, PHP, WordPress,
- BitCoin, CAD,
All these software are Free and Open Source software. So what does “free and open source” means?
What is open source software?
Open Source is not a license, it’s a philosophy.
Open Source software follows that philosophy and released under that. The term “Open Source” was suggested by Christine Peterson. It was first introduced by Eric. S. Raymond and Bruce Perens in 1998 to promote the philosophy that promotes free culture to create and share free software. According to Wikipedia:
Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available and licensed with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.
For a common person Open Source software is part of their life. We live and work around it even without noticing it, just like electricity, internet, mobile phones, TV. You might be surprised but the all the terms mentioned above like Android, Linux and so on are Open Source software.
What are free and Open Source software aka FOSS?
It is worth to mention that not all open source software are free. Have you heard about Red Hat Linux or premium/commercial WordPress anything like that? These are paid software. Open Source does refers to free software. Sometimes open source software might be a paid one. Free and open source software means you may use the code, edit the code for any reason whatsoever. E.g Ubuntu is a good example of such software.
A free and Open Source software should be free to use (availability should be free) and the source code should also be available for any purposes as mentioned in the Open Source licenses.
What are Commercial Open Source software?
It is not essential that Open Source software should always be free. Sometimes it could be paid e.g. Red Hat Linux. Many FOSS (Free and Open source software) also have commercially supported version. These are generally maintained by the Founder Company or person. This helps them to generate money for their benefits and the FOSS project both. These are considered as Commercial Open Source Software.
Why open source matters?
Now the question arises, Is it worth to support open source even they make profit for them? There could be a lot of valid arguments. But in my opinion, If I support for the project It doesn’t means that I am allowing them to make a lot of money. Instead, most open source projects are run by non-profit companies. And even they are profit making company they can’t dictate the project. The project is run by the community and if someone don’t like things or want some changes they want to do they can fork the project and releases on their names. E.g. Libreoffice.
Open Source philosophy is the key changer in the modern computing. Nowadays it is not only an option to keep spending on computers low but also provides affordable managed solutions to enterprises. For personal use it is more or less completely free. Unless you are a big fan of Microsoft and uses their pirated software.
Open source provides flexibility to use. The software can be easily modified for better (and sometimes worse). You may find number of variations of software across the web. Just take Ubuntu an as example.
Official Ubuntu Flavors, backed by Canonical Ltd.
- Ubuntu GNOME
- Ubuntu Kylin
- Ubuntu Studio
Hey, that’s not like Microsoft Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista or XP. But it’s like Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Enterprises. The interesting part is Microsoft is going to rid will all these variations and will have only one flavor. On the other hand Ubuntu and all these variations are successfully maintained by Ubuntu Community.
Since you are reading Ubuntu Beginner, you should know that the first bug with Ubuntu was: “Microsoft has a majority market share”. Which actually means: “Non-free software leaves users at the mercy of the software owner and concentrates control over the technology which powers our society into the hands of a few. Additionally, proprietary software stifles innovation, maintains artificial scarcities, and enables malicious anti-features such as DRM, surveillance, and other monopolistic practices”. It was, however, the Android (another FOSS project) who fixed this bug.
To be continued..
1. How Free and Open Source Even Survived in Capitalist Ruled Market?