If you’re not a programmer and you would like to know the benefits of open source software and what open source software is in the first place, then you need not worry as this article is tailored for you. Developers might find some interesting things too so stick around
First, it’s great to mention that software in general has always been a blessing to mankind. It has made the life of hundreds of millions of people easier and it has accelerated the rate of innovation for humans by A LOT.
The benefits of open source software in particular has done a tremendous effort to increase the capabilities of computers all around the world. But First…
Before diving into the benefits of open source software, you need to know what it is.
All the software that you see on your devices are made up of lines of code. To put it in simple words, an open source software is a software that has it’s lines of code publicly accessible by anyone.
This means that if a software is open source, then any person who knows what they’re doing can join the team of developers who are working on building the software.
It’s basically an open invitation for any developer who would like to add new features, fix bugs, track requests, fix issues and so on, to the software at hand.
Take linux for example. Linux is an open source operating system. If you are curious about how operating systems are made, you can go and check the code behind linux online and see by yourself.
Warning though, you won’t understand a word, even experienced developers will find it difficult to understand an operating system base code.
On the other hand, there’s the closed-source software. What is it? Again, it’s a software where the code base is only accessible by a group of people (usually the people working building the software).
So back to our main question, what are the benefits of open source software?
Most of the open source software is free.
This is the number one advantage that every computer user should make use of. Most of the open source software is for free. Just download them and Boom, you now have a new awesome tool for free.
There are some companies that have their software open source while still charging you money, however these are few to the point that people associate open source with Free software.
Back to linux. A group of kind software developers have given you a free operating system that isn’t less capable than the commercial ones that exist in the market.
If you’re not capable of paying for an operating system, just use Linux. It isn’t less capable than any commercial and expensive operating systems out there. Many claim that Linux is even better than many commercial operating systems.
To give you an example about how beneficial the free software can be, the website that you’re currently reading from (our website) is built using WordPress which is an open source and free software.
Like millions of bloggers, we downloaded a version of the wordpress software for free, we added a theme to it, we uploaded it to servers and boom, we now have a blog.
The benefits of open source software have been huge for us, and you too can make use of it.
If you’re planning to start any business or if you just want to use some kind of software for any purpose, the first thing that you need to do is always search if open source free alternatives exist to what you’re currently trying to buy. You’ll be amazed with how much money you can save.
There are tons of excellent free and open source software that can be of great benefit for you. VLC media player, Gimp, Shotcut, Linux and others have been a huge threat for commercial software since they offer top quality services with zero cost.
Check this list of great free and open source software if you’d like more examples.
Open source software can be trusted
If you’re extremely worried about privacy issues like us, then you would really want to make sure that the software you are using isn’t abusing your privacy in any way possible.
But how do you do that? The best option would be that you check the lines of code yourself and see exactly what the software does when used.
I know you aren’t a developer, and you aren’t expected to go check the code of the software by yourself, but if it’s open source, then a lot of developers have already checked the code and are able to tell everyone what the software exactly does, what data it collects, what does it do with this data and so on.
If someone tells you what their software does, then release the code of the software so that the people can check by themselves, then they are more likely to be trusted than someone who tells you what their software does but doesn’t actually show it to you.
Think of Whatsapp and Telegram for example. I am currently transitioning from using whatsapp to using Telegram and trying to convince everybody to do so.
Telegram’s front end is open source. This means that you can know exactly what information Telegram collects from your mobile device. It’s true that their back end is not open source, however, you still can be 100% sure about what exact info they collect from you.
Whatsapp on the other hand is a closed source project owned by Facebook. As you may have already known, Facebook users have been facing a lot of privacy issues while using the site.
I’m not saying that Whatsapp can’t be trusted, what I’m saying however is that companies who explicitly show you what their software does might be more trusted than companies which only tells you what it does without showing any code. So why not make use of the benefits of open source software?
Open source software is more stable and reliable
One of the finest benefits of open source software is that they are usually more stable and reliable than others.
Why is that?
It’s because there are hundreds and maybe thousands of experienced developers working on the project to make it perfect.
I believe we can agree that the bigger the team is, the better the results can be if the project was led perfectly. Especially if this team includes professional people from all over the world and from different programming backgrounds.
Open source software is more secure if you’re careful.
Open source software can be more secure than others. Why? Again, because there are a lot of people working on the project. Any security expert around the world can search for any serious threats in any open source software and hopefully fix it.
This could be sometimes dangerous too. If you’re using open source software, then you want to make sure that you always have the newest update on your device. If some white hat hacker finds a security threat and fixes it, you’ll need to have the fixed version as soon as possible because now the whole world knows how to exploit the threat if you still have the older versions.
You need not worry a lot about this issue however. As long as you have the latest versions of any open source software you use, then you’re fine.
Faster bug fixes
One last benefit for having hundreds or thousands of people working on an open source project is that whenever you find a bug and report it, you’ll find out that the bug is fixed in no time since many developers will be waiting for any new bug reports to fix.
You might be wondering, what are the benefits of open source software for the developers themselves if they’re not making any money out of it.
Believe it or not, there are still great people around the world who would love to offer help for nothing in return. Free open source software developers are some of these people.
It’s worth mentioning however that there are some benefits for the developers too. Being part of an open source software project proves that you can be a key team player, and you’re experienced enough to be able to be part of a huge software project.
This can help developers land jobs more quickly as they have already proven their capabilities when it comes to enterprise software projects for example.
Supporting free and open source software is a noble cause because it can help remove any barriers in front of many brilliant minds around the world who have limited resources to work with.
By providing these people all the tools they need for free, some of them might chance the world to the better.
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