When the buzz started about open source software, there were many detractors who thought it wouldn’t last. Last it has, with new applications and an increasing user base. Open source software as the name implies does not rest on any proprietary application. Also known as OSS, free software or FOSS, users can download them, distribute them, or modify them free of cost.
There are studies that have indicated that the current economic downturn has promoted the growth in the number of users of OSS. It is believed that many businesses with 100 or less employees are turning to open source to meet their technology needs.
The beauty of this software is that it can be customized to do exactly what the user wants. This flexibility is really important in organizations where it is crucial to make changes to applications as the need arises. Not all commercial software options are easily modified. In some cases, modification can only be done by the original company and at great cost.
The value of OSS goes beyond economic considerations. For those integrally involved in technology, part of the allure is that it can be easily audited. Since the source code is freely available, programmers can easily verify and modify any security claims. When proprietary software is purchased, the source code is generally secret so it is not possible to test many of the claims made about it.
As technology changes, many commercial software applications have been discontinued. With OSS this risk is limited as there is no single owner who can decide to do away with a given software or version. Discontinued software can affect a company’s workflow.
The ability to modify OSS means that programmers can always get to the source code to make necessary improvements. Open source software is attractive in a number of fields including programming, graphic design and website design.