The last section discussed closed source software where the source code is not available to others to use or copy. However, there are many who feel that software should not be restricted in this way. Just as with those early hobbyists in the 1970s, they feel that innovation and progress can be made much more rapidly if they share what has been learned. In the 1990s, with Internet access connecting more people together, the open-source movement gained steam.
Open-source software makes the source code available for anyone to copy and use. For most people having access to the source code of a program does little good since it is challenging to modify existing programming code. However, open-source software is also available in a compiled format that can be downloaded and installed. The open-source movement has led to the development of some of the most used software in the world such as the Firefox browser, the Linux operating system, and the Apache web server.
Many businesses are wary of open-source software precisely because the code is available for anyone to see. They feel that this increases the risk of an attack. Others counter that this openness actually decreases the risk because the code is exposed to thousands of programmers who can incorporate code changes to quickly patch vulnerabilities. There are many arguments on both sides of the open-source model debate and can be found below.
Advantages of Open Source
Disadvantages of Open Source
|The software is available for free
The software source-code is available; it can be examined and reviewed before it is installed.
The large community of programmers who work on open-source projects leads to quick bug-fixing and feature additions.
|Technical support is not available like with traditional software products.
Software companies provide updates and features as required by the users.
The user interface may be more challenging to use.
Open Source Applications
There are thousands of open-source applications available for download. For example, you can get the productivity suite from Open Office. One good place to search for open-source software is sourceforge.net, where thousands of programs are available for free download.