“Open Source” software has become a part of our lives nowadays. Gone are the days where software development was done in a strict manual mode with lots of requirements from the programmers. Instead, today, we find developers writing applications in their own languages. There are also tools available on the internet that help in the development of software. The primary goal of the software developers is to provide a quality and user-friendly software to the end users.
Nowadays, we find both proprietary and open-source software everywhere. However, people tend to stick to one type of development. There are people who believe that “open source” is not free software and vice versa. It is very difficult to understand the difference between the two because both have some important similarities.
Basically, open-source software is just a form of free software where the author releases the source code to the community for everyone to use, change, and share the software. Open-source software can be developed collaboratively by the programmers. On the other hand, proprietary software must be sold only to the specific buyer or to a restricted number of customers. A program must be sold for a specific price or it cannot be shared at all. In this regard, it can be said that open-source software does not restrict programmers much as proprietary software does. But as software gets more complex and a programmer feels the need to implement more functions, he can start using proprietary software and later modify the software source code to make it compatible with his future programs.
There are many reasons why people prefer to use open source software over proprietary ones. The biggest reason why people prefer to use open source software is because it is cheaper than proprietary software. Another reason is because it allows free flow of information. Therefore, if a person uses open source software, it is easy to share information with people all over the world. The open-source community values sharing as much as they do to perfection.
As mentioned above, open source licenses protect the source code as well as the purchaser. Because of this, when a person creates a program, he can add all kinds of modules to it, adding different kinds of software, which he could sell to different customers. If he has purchased his program from a proprietary company, then no amount of adding modules will make that program proprietary. Thus, any customer who purchases that program will be able to customize it according to his needs.
The above reasons explain why many computer users and programmers prefer the open source way of developing software. Although there are still a few programmers who prefer proprietary programs because of its simplicity, the vast majority of computer users and programmers today prefer the open source way of developing software. In a nutshell, open source code allows everyone to have access to it; that means everyone, whether potential buyer or developer, can change and use the code, regardless of whether he has purchased the program. Thus, he can improve the quality and the functionality of the software.