Data or you can say, whatever the information you share online and offline, is probably the single most valuable asset in the modern world. It has dragged CEOs and world-renowned personalities to courtrooms and senate meetings and made companies multi-billion-dollar ventures. 

It all boils down to this unit of information that everyone (including web apps, software applications development, and programming languages) is influencing every second of our lives. 

In the words of Charles Towers-Clark, Forbes columnist, the current tech industry is “egalitarian and exclusive, collaborative and ruthlessly competitive, open and rigidly closed,” which in essence describes the state of the majority of tech companies, incorporating these ideas for innovation & ingenuity. 

The principle to keep everything in balance is Open Source. It has been shaping the direction of technology for almost the last two decades for many mobile app development companies and web app and mobile app development companies.

Anyway, forgive me. I got a bit carried away with social things here and there. Let’s get back to today’s story and the term – “open source.” 

Open Source = something people/users/developers can alter and share with others. That’s possible because its design is publicly accessible.

Since you’re now a bit familiar with this term and its meaning, let’s see what this blog post in the midst of Sep – 2021 brings for you about the open-source software applications:

  • What is Open Source?
  • When did Open Source all start?
  • The Governance of Open-Source 
  • The Open Source Process
  • How different is an Open Source software from other types of software?
  • Is an Open Source software only for programmers/software developers?
  • Best open-source software to learn and use in 2021
  • Why do more people say yes to Open Source software?
  • Something more to the Open-Source concept
  • What’s Next?

What is Open Source?

The term – Open Source – originated in the context of software development. It is to establish a particular approach to developing computer programs. Today, with the explosion of the Internet and mobile technology, “open source” means many things—what you, as a developer, can call “the open source way.”

Open Source = celebrating principles of open exchange of information for collaborative participation of worldwide members in a software development community. 

The open-source principles are for: 

  • Rapid prototyping
  • Transparency
  • Meritocracy
  • Community-oriented development for projects, products, or other initiatives for the development of technology. 

Moreover, the software code is available to anyone, as the name open-source suggests. 

For instance, you can immediately download, install, and run a Linux OS on your PC, unlike Windows OS, where you need to pay! 

Open-source software is free to download, modify & include in any project as and when required, making it even better over time. “‘Free software’ is a matter of liberty, not price. 

It would help if you thought of ‘free’ as in free speech, not as ‘free beer,’ said Richard Stallman, the Founder of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) & creator of OS GNU. He also explained that it’s the principle of the thing that matters.

His conceptualization of liberty has inspired others to abide by open source principles by contributing their knowledge in exchange for free testing and software improvement over time. 

Free software is a counterpart to proprietary software, which means that no one except the owners has the source code. A user can pay to use the software but cannot in any legal right modify and reuse it.

When did Open Source all start?

The history of programming languages begins along with the Internet. Researchers relied on an open and collaborative feedback process while developing early internet technologies in the 1950s and 1960s.

Users built and shared the same based on each other’s source code. By the early 1990s, values of openness, peer review, and collaboration were written at the core of the internet foundation. Today, millions of users rely on Linux kernel programs. This popular open-source operating system is Linux, featured under GNU licenses.

A Unix-like operating system, Linux is the largest open-source software project globally, with millions of people from all over the globe continuously contributing to its source code. 

Started the journey from the margins of software development to becoming a mainstream industry standard when the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded in 1998.

The Governance of Open-Source

Governance can be broken down into two components: Structures & processes. Like any other stable democratic system, its elements can be beneficial in creating an excellent open-source governance system. The rules and procedures allow all good ideas to be noticed and brought into action by the people running the project.

Balancing the powers is the key here. I am assuming that we want to get something meaningful out of the community, regardless of the nature of the project we are building. Community-driven projects need some process to protect the prerogatives of the parties involved and the project from spiraling out of control.

One such great example is Apache. It is winning the hearts of everybody these days because they concentrated on the process up front and got it down cold. You’ve got an applications development version of Camelot when you have great minds sharing values, structure, and operations.

The Open Source Process

From a governance point of view, most projects are like blocks rather than cities or states. We start by appointing a community manager who can respond to emails, social media, and feedback. ‘Feedbacks’ are the key here. We need to focus attention on those who want to contribute code. Someone needs to take a look at all incoming codes and evaluate them. Should try not to reject any, can post them; someone may like them.

Once we have enough supporters, we need boards. A technical committee can be the most significant contributor (individuals and companies). 

An advisory board can consist of companies and community members, which can help decide the project’s path moving forward. It’s the point where the community manager acts as the liaison between the advisory board and the broad community. 

Remember, we are trying to drive code, bug reports, and beta testing. The best way to do it is through a wiki. We need to be honest, transparent, and open about why we are doing it. The broader participation, the better it is going to be.

How different is an Open Source software from other types of software?

The first thing is first – every software has a source code! 

A developer, a team, or an organization creates and maintains that source code exclusively while having complete control over it. Only these entities can modify it since they have made it and have access. Such software is known as “proprietary” or “closed-source” software like Windows OS, Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc. 

Thus, only the original creators can legally copy, inspect, and alter such software. And if users want to use it, they must agree, that is, sign a license displayed the first time they run it – that they will not alter the software without the authors/developers/organization’s permission. And users will rarely have permission to do so. 

Open Source is way different from closed-source software. Because its authors/developers make it in such a way that its source code is editable and freely available to users/other developers who would use that code, alter it, copy it, learn from it, or share it. For example, the LibreOffice and the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) are open-source software.

Like closed-source software/proprietary software, users have to accept the terms and conditions mentioned in the license when they begin to use open-source software. But the legal times are very different for open source software compared to those of proprietary software.   

Moreover, open-source software licenses celebrate and promote collaboration and sharing among the worldwide community of contributors since it has the permission that other people can modify their parts. Such initiatives encourage computer programmers to access and modify open-source software whenever they feel a need and leave the same way for others to share their work and make contributions.

Is an Open Source software only for programmers/software developers?

The big answer is a big No! An open-source technology/open source thinking is for developers and non-programmers. 

How?

Because the Internet itself is an open-source technology, like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server application, internet users today have several benefits from the open-source software/concept.

Every time a tech consumer views a web page, checks an email, chats with friends, streams music using Spotify, Wynk, or Sound Cloud, or plays a multiplayer video game, their device gets connected to a global network of computers (or the remote computers located in faraway places that users don’t actually see or can’t physically access) via open-source software. 

This open-source software routes and transmits the data from remote computers to their devices. When they do this, they’re engaged in “remote computing.” And the management of such computing is known as cloud computing – because it involves operations such as storing files, sharing photos, or streaming videos online. 

Cloud computing is skyrocketing like never before and becoming an essential aspect of everyday life. Google Apps and others like Own Cloud and Nextcloud are some examples of computing applications based on open source technology. Also, OpenStack is an example of an open-source cloud-computing platform.

Furthermore, cloud computing platforms can be of two types: 

  • Open-source 
  • Closed Source 

Best open-source software to learn and use in 2021

Open-source software makes users’ lives simple and easy to do everyday tasks on Windows, Mac, and Linux without needing license fees. Here is the list of a few essential open-source programs for you in 2021:

Linux – The operating system that every company and organization deploys for robust security protocols.

LibreOffice – An alternative to Microsoft Office.

VLC Media Player – An media player that can play virtually any file format.

GIMP – A powerful photo and image editing tool for content creators and developers.

Shotcut – An excellent program for advanced video editing.

Brave – A new web browser for a private browsing experience.

Audacity – An audio editor that is ideal for music and podcast creators.

KeePass – Password generator and credential storage tool.

Thunderbird – An excellent source for the management of all your emails. 

FileZilla – An FTP client which is refreshingly user-friendly.

Why do more people say yes to Open Source software?

People prefer open-source software to closed-source software for the following reasons: 

Control – People/users want more power in their hands to examine the code to ensure it’s not doing anything they don’t want it to and modify it according to their needs. 

Training – An open-source software helps people improve their programming and logic. And since the source code is publicly accessible, anyone, even students, can efficiently study, research, and share the work/solutions to improve it. They can also develop/enhance their skills and share their knowledge with others using online forums to help them avoid making mistakes and solve their problems. 

Security – An open-source software is more secure and stable than any proprietary software since the open-source software is free, and anyone can access it to solve any technical glitch without delay. Hence, fixing, updating, and upgrading an open-source software is way easier than any proprietary software.

Stability – Many users use open source software for more meaningful and long-term projects. And since open-source software tends to incorporate and operate based on open standards set by the authors, it’s highly stable.

Community – Open-source software generally has a big community of contributors worldwide and often inspires users and developers to build things around it. They create, test, use, promote, and ultimately help the software project they love.

Something more to the Open-Source concept

Open Source keeps the tech industry, especially mobile and Web app development companies, afloat and alive. More than 78.9% of websites on the Internet are made on PHP. A hilarious story tells the reality and importance of shared resources over proprietary ones. In 1911, Henry Ford won a challenge for a 2-cycle gasoline engine, the Selden patent, initially filed by George B. Selden.

But then came the formation of the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, which constituted a cross-licensing agreement among all US automotive manufacturers. It made the Selden patent worthless. 

Now all companies would develop technologies and file for patents, but they would also share them without exchanging money. Before the United States of America entered World War II, they shared Ninety-two of Ford’s patents and about 515 patents from other manufacturers.

Various community-backed projects and software like MongoDB and node package manager (npm) are standard tools in the software industry. They help build clean, robust, and accessible solutions, which get a lot of love from the developer’s community. Even Microsoft released a new programming language, Typescript, to improve the drawbacks of the second most popular programming language.

What’s Next?

If you want anything more resourceful, you must go for an open-source software since it gives you the freedom you strive to have. Such software is designed to help you learn more about Open Source. You can either make a Google search or search on YouTube for the same, but we recommend contacting our developers directly for guidance and any help you need to get started. 

We promise you won’t be disappointed; whether it’s about getting help in developing web apps, mobile apps/applications, or websites, we’re just a text/call away from contributing to the growth of your business/project. 

And remember, there’s more to come in the area of open-source in the future. So, tighten your seat belts and enjoy the show!!

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