Thursday, 07 February 2019 12:00

Open source - what is it and what do you need to know about open code?

What is open source?

Open source began in the late 90s and it has its roots in the free software movement that allows all its users to freely run, edit, and distribute it.
In the broadest understanding, it’s an idea of unlimited access to the software’s source code. It allows everyone to access the program’s code and modify and distribute it to some extent depending on the license.

Advantages of open source

Open source licenses allow everyone to contribute to the software’s development. What does it really mean?

  • Faster development
    Open source often gathers communities whose passion is developing software. They write code on their own and allow producers to use it when publishing new versions of the program. It significantly speeds up the product’s development.
  • More efficient detection and patching of vulnerabilities
    Due to the fact that the code is open source it can be analyzed by a number of people, and all vulnerabilities can be found much quicker. Open source enthusiasts often patch them on their own and then release the patches publicly. As a result, people who use the software do not have to wait for an official patch from the vendor. They can take care of their own security.
  • Flexibility
    Code modification is limited by two aspects only - the employee’s skills and the software’s license.

You can freely adjust open source to your needs, develop new functionalities, or remove the ones you do not use. In case of classic closed source, you rely on whether or not the producer agrees to design custom functionality for you. Using open source allows you to customize the system on your own, or hire a developer to do it for you.

Open source in the largest programs

Open source is currently one of the biggest trends in programming. The commercial sector also benefits from that. Open source libraries are basically already used everywhere and it is practically impossible to find an application that does not have any open source elements. According to The Forrester Wave™: Software Composition Analysis, Q1 2017, modern software includes from 80% to 90% of open source code.

What is even more important, is the fact that open source is commonly used in popular programs released by the largest producers.

Part of the iOS system is publicly available, whereas Android is released under a completely open license. Google made the TensorFlow as an open source library available for everyone. Mozilla Corporation publishes the Mozilla Firefox open source browser for free.

By using open source code projects can develop faster and more efficiently. Applications are not written “from scratch” - they base on libraries, which allows technologies to develop quicker than ever before. Keeping that in mind, we are sure that open source is not just a temporary gimmick, it is here to stay and change the future of programming. In further articles you will learn if open source is really free and if open source programs are secure.

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