Open source software (OSS) is code designed to be publicly accessible. That means anyone can see, modify, and distribute the code however they choose. Users can take the code and use it for any purpose, including fixing bugs, improving overall functions, or adapting the software altogether. OSS has no licensing fees or other restrictions on the software.
OSS is developed in a collaborative setting, relying on peer review and community input. It is often more flexible, less expensive. Since it is developed by a community instead of a single author or company, OSS typically has better security as well.
Advantages of Open Source Software
Low Cost of Ownership
In short, open source software is almost always free to download. Even the few paid-for options are considerably cheaper than their closed counterparts. Red Hat’s research states that a lower cost of ownership is one of the clear leading advantages.
No Vendor Lock-In
Open source software has the unique freedom in that the code can be taken anywhere and be used for anything, at any time. It reduces the risk of a vendor no longer supporting an older version of its software, leaving the user without a place to go for help. OSS removes the financial aspect from a place of business and puts the power in the hands of the user.
Because OSS is open, it shows any and all vulnerabilities the code may have. That means there are many developers constantly on the lookout for risks and how to mitigate them.
Ahead of the cost advantage is that OSS is high quality code. Because the source code is freely accessible, it is regularly updated and improved by peer programmers. The code essentially becomes a living entity instead of something that stays stagnant. Because open source software is designed to be modified, the code can be edited to suit the exact needs of the user or business. There is also a large, thriving open source community that is full of help from individuals across different sectors.
Open Source software is a smart alternative to proprietary software. Red Hat’s State of Enterprise Open Source survey states that 95% of their respondents list open source as strategically important and 77% of respondents agree that enterprise OSS will continue to grow. Many IT leaders believe that open source has been instrumental in their organization’s ability to take advantage of cloud architectures.
Some of the biggest names like Facebook, Google, and more all already release OSS to share knowledge, work together to innovate solutions and to create more stable and functional products for everyone to enjoy.