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Open Source

Essay by   •  February 18, 2011  •  Research Paper  •  1,263 Words (6 Pages)  •  1,389 Views

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Generally computer software sources (the human readable version of the software) are of two kinds; closed and open. Open-source programming has been prominently growing through the past ten years. In this model, programmers share their codes freely in order to be modified and used by others. They are allowed to alter and change the original software as much as they like. This in turn will produce higher quality software with improved features. For the open-source programs to be reliable, some sort of licenses has been approved by Open Source Initiative (OSI) which is a “non-profit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting the open-source definition for the good of the community, especially through the OSI Certified Open-source software certification mark and program.”


Open-source began to form in the hacker’s society of the United States computer science laboratories such as Stanford and MIT in the late 1960’s. Programmers were members of societies in which each member were expected to share his or her code among the society members. This would apply improvements on different codes by members of the society. In addition programmers were able to use each others knowledge in their own interest mutually.

By the early 1980’s the university hacker societies began to collapse, and the hackers were hired by commercial companies producing proprietary systems (systems that required users to purchase a license in order to use them). Later they resigned their jobs and recreated the hacker societies they enjoyed before. One of the first open-source systems was a Unix compatible operating system named GNU by Richard Stallman.


Open-source software is similar to “free software”, but the open-source users are generally able to view and modify the source code, and they are also allowed to redistribute the software. However open-source does not just mean to access the source code, the distribution of open-source software must comply with the following criteria,

1. The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software (free redistribution).

2. The program must include the source code as well as compiled form (executable form).

3. The license must allow modifications.

4. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code, but may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.

5. The license must not discriminate against any person or group.

6. The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor such as business or genetic research.

7. The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed, without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties (license distribution).

8. License must not be specific to a product.

9. License must not restrict other software.

10. License must be technology-neutral.


One way to study the advantages of open-source is to study the disadvantages of closed-source. Closed-source programs generally have several fundamental flaws. The internals of the closed-source programs are intentionally hidden from users, preventing them to modify the program to suit their own needs. Companies distributing closed-source programs are able to hide security holes and fundamental flaws from the users, whilst research shows that most commercial software is poorly engineered. On the other hand, with open-source, more people see the code and there’s a higher chance that one recognizes any errors, before it leads to a major problem.

During the development of open-source, in most cases, a group of developers grows around the software. This way, the company has to pay less and of course is much closer to the customers. Since many of the developers are themselves users of the software, they will probably do their best on producing higher quality software. In addition, the market of open-source is much wider since not only richer companies, but also students and smaller businesses are able to afford the free open-sourced software.

Although open-source is weaker comparing with proprietary systems regarding money making, there are other different ways of charging people with open-source such as charging for installation and support, or selling other related products with better facilities while still providing people with free ones (this way they are more likely to purchase the products). The fact is that open-source does not mean you can not sell your product, but it means that you can’t prevent others from selling the same product. This will put a premium on programs with higher qualities regarding competitive advantage and marketing, which forces producers to work harder in order to stay competitive. In terms of security, research has shown that in open-source often there’s less time between the flaw discovery and a patch to fix comparing to closed-source. This is generally because there are more people seeing the code which increases the chance for any errors or flaws



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