The Advantages of Open Source Software
"Open Source Software is primarily defined as software which is freely redistributable and includes the source code" (Varner, 1999). Open-source software may be seen as the opposite of proprietary software in which the end product is binary only. The idea of open source is not a new one. "The progress of science over half a millennium has been founded upon the notion of "open source"--a model in which the brightest minds contribute their work to the community for the betterment of humankind. Scientists across all major disciplines publish their insights in the public domain, climbing upon the shoulders of others and enabling others to climb upon theirs" (Firmage, 2003). The beginnings of open-source software began, however, in the 1950-1960 time frame when software, along with its source code, was distributed through forums such as the IBM SHARE or the DEC DECUS. The idea began to populate more rapidly though, with the rise of Linux, beginning in 1991 (Gonzalez-Barahona, 2000). Today, the use of open-source software is widespread. In fact, much of the Internet relies on open-source software. Two such examples are Apache, which currently runs 64% of surveyed Internet websites (Netcraft, 2003) and BIND, which in 2000 was estimated to providing 95% of all reverse DNS lookups (Wheeler, 2003). Given this background into the idea of open source and its related software, this paper intends to highlight some of the advantages to developing open source software and the advantages for a business to consider using it.
As a software developer, there are some advantages to developing software in an open source format as opposed to a proprietary, closed source format. First, the ability to view, modify and contribute to currently available open source software is a major advantage. "It enables the unlimited tuning and improvement of a software product. It also makes it possible to port the code to new hardware, to adapt it...
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