Switzerland: An introduction to open source software
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What is free software?
Free software is software that generally allows a user to use it for free for any purpose, to access the source code of the software, to study and modify the source code, to distribute copies of the software to others and to redistribute versions of the software (derivative works) to third parties. A popular example of open source software is Linux, which is an operating system that manages the hardware, applications, and resources of a system.
Open source software is a development methodology that encourages open collaboration between different software developers through source code and documentation made available to the public free of charge. This can be contrasted with traditional proprietary software licenses (also known as “closed source”) which only grant access to machine-readable object code for a license fee and subject to other license. restrictive license conditions.
Today, open source software is widely used due to its availability through the Internet through websites such as https://sourceforge.net/ and https://bitbucket.org/product/ and https://github.com /. In addition, its growing use has been encouraged by the switch to software as a service (Saas), increased use of smartphones and tablets and the Internet of Things (connection of devices and their sensors with software). In all these applications, open source software is widely used, for example, the operating system of the Android smartphone is based on Linux.
Why is free software popular?
Well, it’s not just a question of cost. While open source software can be obtained without paying a license fee, you will still have to pay someone for support, maintenance, and further development of the software. Instead, the big benefits are:
- Fast software development cycles: Open source software has rapid development cycles. For example, several Linux updates are released each year.
- Decentralization: You don’t depend on a single organization to deliver, support, and maintain your software. Such dependence creates business risk if the organization goes bankrupt or decides to stop supporting the software you use. In contrast, in open source software there are several developers and companies that provide, maintain, support and develop it.
- It’s easy to customize: Open source software is easily updated or customized to meet a user’s individual needs.
- Open availability: open source software is available and can be used by almost anyone. Likewise, open source software communities can be easily joined as long as you can contribute in some way, such as writing software code. This provides a network of support for your use or development of open source software.
How is open source software licensed?
The actual conditions of use of open source software are defined in a software license. There are many different variations of open source software licenses, but these can be categorized into two main categories. First, permissive licenses which allow a user to freely use, modify, update, and combine open source software with other software. This type of license does not impose any restrictions, or at least substantial restrictions, on the further use of the updated or customized open source software. Examples of permissive licenses are the Apache and MIT licenses. In contrast, restrictive open source software licenses, such as “Copyleft” licenses, impose licensing restrictions on the use of it and any updated or custom software derived from it.
The next time
In our next article, we will analyze the terms of “strong” versus “weak” Copyleft licenses.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.
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