Open source software is basically software installed on devices that gives permission to anyone to make changes to it to suit their needs, if they are a programmer, because the source code is made ‘open’ to changes.
It has its pros:
- Open source software is free to use by anyone who can code. As long as you can program the software to suit your own needs, using this software should be easy to use.
- It is more stable and secure as programmers in that community can fix bugs themselves which benefits you too because the work done on them is open, rather than wait for next ‘fixed’ release from the manufacturer of the software as is done with paid-for software.
- Open source software also relieves the creator companies of the stress in dealing with licensing their software and assigning serial protection to it to block others from making changes to it.
And it also has its cons, according to Thomas Yobe, Network Engineer at Roke Telkom
- Some open source software is not easy to use or takes long to figure out because it’s not paid for so there is no dedicated customer service that handles the constant glitches one may encounter when programming it.
- There are not many applications that are open source right now. Some open source software include the Ubuntu, Mozilla Firefox, open source software for Windows (Windows itself is proprietary but you can have free software installed e.g Thunderbird, OpenOffice, VLC Player etc).
- Sometimes you may need 3rd party drivers, which may come from different sources but the device on which software is installed may not be compatible with the extra software.
Is open source software what we need right now? Only if you know how to code or are willing to learn. It will help you evolve your software to what YOU need it to do personally, and also help others figure out ways to get their own programs running how they want them to, because all the work is shared. You can not hide your work from others as an open source programming rule so no, your work isn’t yours to keep.
Should everyone learn to code? Why not? If you’re interested in open source software then read more on Opensource.org.