Short Bytes: FOSS (Free And Open Software) is the modern day result of the free software movement that draws its philosophies from the 1970s hacker culture of the love of programming and excellence. It hasn’t changed much since then. Read the article to know more about FOSS.
If you are new to this term then this will give you a better understanding. Consider a software that you built, and out of generosity maybe, you made it available for everyone to use it for free. Also, people now could modify what you have originally created to suit their own needs. So now, it is both free and open software, in short FOSS.
The concept seems amazing, right? You build something, I create something and then let us share with the world, maybe someone will give it back to us with an improvised version. But that doesn’t happen. What do you think made Bill Gates so rich?
As the computers were beginning to mark their presence in the world, so did the demand for better software. Earlier, the hardware provider would be in charge of the software products, but later the business around software industry developed and brought in the new players. And with the competitive business around, came the proprietary or closed software.
Open Source vs Proprietary Softwares
There are two types of software used today. One that we are discussing about, the Open source software and the other is Proprietary software. Simply stated, the software that you can’t tweak and whose source code cannot be modified by anyone but the creator and his team is known as Proprietary software or closed software.
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Linux and FreeCAD are some of the open source software whereas the popular OS like Windows and MathWorks MATLAB are proprietary software.
Are Open Source Software Free as well?
No. Open source is what we just told you it is, and it is not necessary that an open source software be free. You could sell your software, but since you have to release the source code as well, so most of the times developers charge money from the users for the software services and support rather than the software, which seems a better way.
The good thing about FOSS or general open source software is that some of the open source licenses make sure that whenever anyone makes modifications in the source code, then he must not charge any fee for sharing it again with others. And the cycle thus continues.
Why Open Source?
First, knowing the software on what you are working boosts your confidence as it gives you the control over the system. If something goes wrong or you want any specific feature to be added, you can easily customize the open source software.
Second, you can learn by watching the source code of the software and in future create an even better one.
Third, with so many brains working on a software, the bugs are fixed quicker and faster come the upgrades.
There is one slight problem that open source software users might encounter is that when someone modifies the software and you upgrade it, the new source code can clash with your tweaks.
Who Benefits from the Open Source Software?
Now a software that is open source might not seem to be of much importance to most of the people, but the fact is that FOSS benefits both programmers and regular users alike. No doubt that for the developers it is a play area where they can change the original source code of the software to create something better, the non-programmers should thank the open source system as it is the basis of much of the Internet.
Open Source, in general, was an idea started by the free software movement with the goals of giving the user freedom to run, study, change and distribute the software without any hassles. The GNU Project by Richard Stallman in 1985 was regarded as a high moment for the free software movement as a fundamental philosophical source.
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