What is open source?

What is open source?

You might have come across the term "open source" once or twice, probably not at all. It might sound like a tech buzzword, but in a real sense, it isn't a difficult concept at all. In this article, I'll break it down in the simplest way to help you understand what open source means.

In tech terms, open source refers to software where the source code is available to the public. This code can then be seen, modified, and redistributed according to one's preference. However, today, the word open source has become a general term that doesn't only cover the tech aspect.

It covers a broader set of values known as "the open source way." Open-source efforts, projects, and products embrace and celebrate the values of open exchange, team effort, quick prototyping, open communication, and community-centered development.

The difference between open source software and closed source software

Open source software is the term used to describe computer programs whose sources are available for usage and accessible by the general public. This type of software employs code that is freely accessible online for the public to use and alter in any way they see fit.

To use this kind of software, a user usually has to accept the terms of a license which regulates the manner in which that software can be used, researched, modified, and distributed. Some open source licenses, commonly known as "copyleft" licenses, demand that anybody who distributes a modified open source program also distribute the program's source code.

Some examples of open-source software include Android, Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Gimp, etc.

Closed source software, on the other hand, refers to computer programs whose source code is not accessible to the general public. It is called CSS in short, and here, the source code is protected.

The software can only be modified by the single person or entity who generated it. Closed source software is often more expensive than open source, and a valid license that has been verified is required to use it. Because of the requirement to have an authenticated license, this tends to put restrictions on the user's ability to modify the software.

The most common examples of closed-source software include mac OS, Microsoft Office, Adobe Reader, Skype, Google Earth, etc.

Despite how tech-like all this sounds, open source is not only applicable to programmers or people in the tech field. As I mentioned earlier, the term open source has become a more general way of describing collaborative efforts to contribute to projects or products.

This means anyone with any set of skills like writing, graphic designing, etc., or ready to learn new ones can join a community of like-minded people like OSCA (Kampala) to contribute to local and global projects in ways that they see fit.

In conclusion, you can look at open source as a willingness to work with others in open-ended ways so that others can see and participate, accepting failure as a chance to grow, and encouraging everyone else to do the same.