An Introduction to the Open Source Concept

An Introduction to the Open Source Concept

The open source philosophy is a way of thinking and working within the open source community that values intellectual freedom and is built around core principles such as collaboration, transparency, inclusion, delivery, and community. This movement has driven significant advancements in various industries, including government, education, health, law, and manufacturing, by allowing an international community to share, collaborate, and support both individual and team objectives via source code.

What Does Open Source Mean?

Open source refers to an approach where the design of an item, typically software, is made publicly accessible for others to modify and share. This concept originated in the software development field but has since expanded to embody a set of values and principles known as the “open source way.” These values include collaboration, open exchange, fast iteration, merit-based decision-making, transparency, and a focus on community development.

What Is Open Source Software?

Open source software (OSS) is characterised by its source code and is available for use, distribution, and modification with its original rights. Meanwhile, the source code is the underlying component of the software that computer programmers manipulate to determine the behaviour of a program or application.

With access to the source code, programmers would have the ability to make changes to improve the software and adapt it to the specific needs of their organisation. Besides that, OSS typically comes with a license that governs how the software can be modified and distributed.

What Does the Open Source Cycle Look Like?

Many individuals mistakenly believe that open source products are always offered for free. Although numerous open source programs are available at no cost, developers have the right to sell their creations to the public. However, the license stipulates that they cannot claim copyright or patent any derivative works nor keep any part of the code private and confidential. This thereby means that others may develop improved versions of the same software completely free of charge.

The open source license applies to all applications derived from the original product. By accepting the license, users are bound by its terms and conditions. Furthermore, once a piece of software is made open source, all future versions will also be open source indefinitely.

Rather than selling open source products directly, companies tend to construct services based on open source foundations. With that in mind, a robust foundation benefits all businesses that rely on the software.

How Does OSS Differ from Other Types of Software?

Proprietary or closed source software is characterised by its source code being controlled and modified only by the creator or the maintaining organisation. In other words, only the original authors have the legal right to copy, inspect, and alter the software. To use the proprietary software, users would need to agree to follow the restrictions set by the software’s authors, usually through a license agreement displayed upon first use. On that note, notable examples of proprietary software would include Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop.

On the other hand, open source software allows its source code to be accessible to others for viewing, learning from, copying, altering, or sharing. Having mentioned, popular examples of open source software include LibreOffice, the GNU Image Manipulation Program, and openappsec.

Open source software licenses are designed to foster collaboration and sharing among users. This is because they permit modifications to the source code and, as a result, encourage the integration of these changes into other projects. Subsequently, this allows programmers to access, view, and modify open source software as they wish, provided the original authors allow others to do the same with their own modifications.

What Are the Benefits of OSS?

Open source software is often preferred over proprietary software for a variety of reasons, including the following:

Control

Many individuals prefer open source software because they have greater control over it. They can inspect the code to ensure it is not doing anything that is undesirable and/or making alterations to any part they dislike. Meanwhile, non-programmers can also benefit from open source software as they can use it for any purpose they see fit as opposed to just how someone else dictates.

Training

Other than that, some individuals prefer open source software because it helps them improve their programming skills. In particular, the publicly accessible source code allows students to study it and improve their software development abilities easily. Moreover, they can also share their work with others for feedback and critique, thereby helping them develop their skills further. In addition, when mistakes are found in the source code, they can be shared to help others avoid making the same errors.

Security

In essence, some individuals consider open source software to be more secure and steady than proprietary software. In a Red Hat 2020 enterprise user report, the Linux and cloud folks from Raleigh found 95% of almost 1,000 enterprise IT leaders thought open-source is “strategically important to their organisation’s overall enterprise infrastructure software strategy.” As the source code is publicly accessible, someone may find and correct errors or omissions that the original authors may have missed. With multiple programmers working on the software without seeking permission from the original authors, open source software can be fixed, upgraded, and updated more quickly than proprietary software.

Stability

Many users choose open source software for long-term projects as it is considered more stable than proprietary software. More specifically, the publicly available source code ensures that users relying on the software for critical tasks will not be impacted if the original creators stop working on it. Additionally, open source software tends to adhere to open standards, hence making it much more reliable than proprietary ones.

Community

All in all, open source software often creates a community of users and developers around it. This community is not just a group of individuals emotionally or financially invested in the software but the people who produce, test, use, promote, and ultimately affect it.

Concluding Thoughts

In a nutshell, the open source license is an excellent way to foster innovation through cooperative efforts. If not for this type of licensing, many ground-breaking technologies might have remained shrouded by patents or, in the worst-case scenario, never come to fruition. With that in mind, the open source approach has been a driving force behind the rapid advancement of technology over the past several decades.

The open-appsec initiative is an innovative open-source solution leveraging machine learning for API security as well as comprehensive web applications to cater for various business needs in the modern world. In addition, the open-appsec programme can be integrated as an extension to Kubernetes Ingress, NGINX, Envoy, and API gateways.

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