The average computer user today does not know very much about open source software, even though they may seem the term printed and displayed on various websites, downloaded programs and software packages on a daily basis. What exactly is open source software? When and how was it developed? What is its primary purpose today?
What is Open Source Software?
Open source software, otherwise known simply as OSS, is a type of software that allows its source code to become licensed and even made available through an open source environment. What does that mean? In most cases, the copyrighter holder of any type of software or application reserves the rights to modify and distribute their software to themselves. The very last thing that they would want to do is to surrender those rights to anyone else – personally or professionally.
When it comes to open source software, however, that is exactly what is taking place. The copyright holder surrenders their rights of exclusive development and distribution and allows anyone to be able to use their software for anything that they want to do. This type of provision has proven to be extremely cost-effective for consumers on a global scale for many years now. Some reports have even confirmed that using open source software directly results in $60 billion of annual savings for consumers all around the world.
Even though you may just now be familiarizing yourself with term in recent years, open source software actually dates back several decades to the mid-1980s. At that point, the free software movement was officially launched in the year of 1983. In the following years after that monumental launch, the era of free software caused a lot of changes and drastic modifications to be implemented in several popular software packages.
In 1985, the Free Software Foundation decided that the word “free” would not necessarily mean that the software itself would be free from cost or expense, but that the people that invest in this software would have the freedom to distribute it without any sort of copyright infringement violations or consequences. 15 years after its initial launch, a group of advocates decided that the term “open source software” should be used instead in order to accommodate the corporate world.
The Decision to Transition to Open Source
Many major companies have begun to transition into the era of offering open source software to their customers, because they realize that it allows them to establish long-term relationships with their loyal customers that may have been jeopardized if they decided to avoid that drastic transition instead. Even though it may mean that they are losing a little money along the way, they know that the long-term benefits of retaining their customers is of the utmost importance and much more valuable than the few dollars that they will lose on the front-end because of making that monumental decision.
Therefore, do not let the terms “free” or “open source” deter you away from investing your time and hard drive space on open source software, because these programs can truly prove to be one of the best investments that you can possibly make in the world of software for your computer.