What is Open Source development?

What is Open Source development?

Open Source development is the process of developing a software whose source code is universally available. Some popular open source softwares include Mozilla Firefox, Android, Libre Office, VLC Media Player etc. Here, the source code is visible for everyone on the website’s webpage, which helps in diversifying and modification of the original source code for improvement of the website or software.

Open source software is software with source code that anyone can inspect, modify, and enhance.

“Source code” is the part of software that most computer users don’t ever see; it’s the code computer programmers can manipulate to change how a piece of software—a “program” or “application”—works. Programmers who have access to a computer program’s source code can improve that program by adding features to it or fixing parts that don’t always work correctly.

Starting an Open Source project

An open source project can be started in any of the following ways:

  • If a source code of an old project is released into the public.
  • If a part of a well-established open source project is copied and used to develop an independent software by interested party.
  • If a developer working on a specific limited piece of code releases it to the public as the first version of an open source program.
  • An individual who senses the need for a project announces the intent to develop a project in public.

Open Source Services

  • Web servers and Web applications.
  • Database Management System (Like MySQL)
  • Content Management System (Joomla, Drupal etc..)
  • Online Shopping Solution (oscommerce, xcart, zencart, etc.)
  • Blogging Software (like WordPress)
  • Learning Management System (like Moodle)
  • Customer Relationship Management (Sugar CRM)
  • Framework (CakePHP, Ruby on Rails)


  • Open Source softwares and programs are obtained free of cost, making it largely popular as it cuts on the individual’s expenditure. Various charges associated with proprietary softwares like multi-user fees, upgradation cost etc. need not be incurred in case of OSS, making them cost effective.
  • Bugs and defects can be identified and worked on quickly, making it highly secure andreliable. As the source code is universally available, anyone can inspect the code for bugs.
  • Repeated addition of features and functionalities make open source softwares and programs user-friendly.
  • Open source softwares are easily customizable, allowing businesses to tailor the software according to their needs, as well as providing them competitive superiority.
  • The worldwide open-source community provides substantial support to users and developers in the form of forums, chats, blog posts etc., ensuring development of the OSS and user satisfaction.
  • Unlike proprietary codes, open source codes provide full visibility to the code base, as well as to the discussions on how the company develops the features and addresses bugs. Hence, open source softwares provide protection against being locked-in, and provide transparency.

Tips for successful Open Source Development project

  • Contribute to an existing project instead of starting a new similar project. This way, you directly jump to the execution process on the existing project, instead of ending up at initiation process for a new project.
  • Optimize the flow of your work using appropriate tools for testing and automating.
  • Learn about the core of the project, starting from the initials. Having a deeper knowledge about the technologies and the project can help enhance your work.
  • Open source softwares are easily customizable, allowing businesses to tailor the software according to their needs, as well as providing them competitive superiority.
  • Get familiar with available debugging tools and use them wisely wherever possible.
  • Implement and capitalize on coding skills to make the project more professional.

How to choose an open source developing company

  • Choose a company that provides creative and effective web development solutions, along with flexibility in meeting your requirements.
  • Check for their portfolio and go through their contributions in open source development of other projects.
  • Check for customer reviews and satisfaction.
  • Choose a company promising long term technical support after the completion of the project.

What's the difference between open source software and other types of software?

Some software has source code that only the person, team, or organization who created it—and maintains exclusive control over it—can modify. People call this kind of software “proprietary” or “closed source” software.

Only the original authors of proprietary software can legally copy, inspect, and alter that software. And in order to use proprietary software, computer users must agree (usually by signing a license displayed the first time they run this software) that they will not do anything with the software that the software’s authors have not expressly permitted. Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop are examples of proprietary software.

Open source software is different. Its authors make its source code available to others who would like to view that code, copy it, learn from it, alter it, or share it. Libre Officeand the GNU Image Manipulation Program are examples of open source software.

As they do with proprietary software, users must accept the terms of a license when they use open source software—but the legal terms of open source licenses differ dramatically from those of proprietary licenses.

Open source licenses affect the way people can use, study, modify, and distributesoftware. In general, open source licenses grant computer users permission to use open source software for any purpose they wish. Some open source licenses—what some people call “copyleft” licenses—stipulate that anyone who releases a modified open source program must also release the source code for that program alongside it. Moreover, some open source licenses stipulate that anyone who alters and shares a program with others must also share that program’s source code without charging a licensing fee for it.

By design, open source software licenses promote collaboration and sharing because they permit other people to make modifications to source code and incorporate those changes into their own projects. They encourage computer programmers to access, view, and modify open source software whenever they like, as long as they let others do the same when they share their work.

Is open source software only important to computer programmers?

No. Open source technology and open source thinking both benefit programmers and non-programmers.

Because early inventors built much of the Internet itself on open source technologies—like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web server application—anyone using the Internet today benefits from open source software.

Every time computer users view web pages, check email, chat with friends, stream music online, or play multiplayer video games, their computers, mobile phones, or gaming consoles connect to a global network of computers using open source software to route and transmit their data to the “local” devices they have in front of them. The computers that do all this important work are typically located in faraway places that users don’t actually see or can’t physically access—which is why some people call these computers “remote computers.”

More and more, people rely on remote computers when performing tasks they might otherwise perform on their local devices. For example, they may use online word processing, email management, and image editing software that they don’t install and run on their personal computers. Instead, they simply access these programs on remote computers by using a Web browser or mobile phone application. When they do this, they’re engaged in “remote computing.”

Some people call remote computing “cloud computing,” because it involves activities (like storing files, sharing photos, or watching videos) that incorporate not only local devices but also a global network of remote computers that form an “atmosphere” around them.

Cloud computing is an increasingly important aspect of everyday life with Internet-connected devices. Some cloud computing applications, like Google Apps, are proprietary. Others, like ownCloud and Nextcloud, are open source.

Cloud computing applications run “on top” of additional software that helps them operate smoothly and efficiently, so people will often say that software running “underneath” cloud computing applications acts as a “platform” for those applications. Cloud computing platforms can be open source or closed source. Open Stack is an example of an open source cloud computing platform.

Why do people prefer using open source software?

People prefer open source software to proprietary software for a number of reasons, including:

Control. Many people prefer open source software because they have more controlover that kind of software. They can examine the code to make sure it’s not doing anything they don’t want it to do, and they can change parts of it they don’t like. Users who aren’t programmers also benefit from open source software, because they can use this software for any purpose they wish—not merely the way someone else thinks they should.

Training. Other people like open source software because it helps them become better programmers. Because open source code is publicly accessible, students can easily study it as they learn to make better software. Students can also share their work with others, inviting comment and critique, as they develop their skills. When people discover mistakes in programs’ source code, they can share those mistakes with others to help them avoid making those same mistakes themselves.

Security. Some people prefer open source software because they consider it more secure and stable than proprietary software. Because anyone can view and modify open source software, someone might spot and correct errors or omissions that a program’s original authors might have missed. And because so many programmers can work on a piece of open source software without asking for permission from original authors, they can fix, update, and upgrade open source software more quicklythan they can proprietary software.

Stability. Many users prefer open source software to proprietary software for important, long-term projects. Because programmers publicly distribute the source code for open source software, users relying on that software for critical tasks can be sure their tools won’t disappear or fall into disrepair if their original creators stop working on them. Additionally, open source software tends to both incorporate and operate according to open standards.

Doesn't "open source" just mean something is free of charge?

No. This is a common misconception about what “open source” implies, and the concept’s implications are not only economic.

Open source software programmers can charge money for the open source software they create or to which they contribute. But in some cases, because an open source license might require them to release their source code when they sell software to others, some programmers find that charging users money for software services and support (rather than for the software itself) is more lucrative. This way, their software remains free of charge, and they make money helping others install, use, and troubleshoot it.

While some open source software may be free of charge, skill in programming and troubleshooting open source software can be quite valuable. Many employers specifically seek to hire programmers with experience working on open source software.

What is open source "Beyond Software"?

At Opensource.com, we like to say that we’re interested in the ways open source values and principles apply to the world beyond software. We like to think of open source as not only a way to develop and license computer software, but also an attitude.

Approaching all aspects of life “the open source way” means expressing a willingness to share, collaborating with others in ways that are transparent (so that others can watch and join too), embracing failure as a means of improving, and expecting—even encouraging—everyone else to do the same.

It also means committing to playing an active role in improving the world, which is possible only when everyone has access to the way that world is designed.

The world is full of “source code”—blueprints, recipes, rules —that guide and shape the way we think and act in it. We believe this underlying code (whatever its form) should be open, accessible, and shared—so many people can have a hand in altering it for the better.

Here, we tell stories about the impact of open source values on all areas of life—science,education , government, manufacturing, health, law, and organizational dynamics. We’re a community committed to telling others how the open source way is the best way, because a love of open source is just like anything else: it’s better when it’s shared.

Where can I learn more about open source?

We’ve compiled several resources designed to help you learn more about open source. We recommend you read our open source FAQs, how-to guides, and tutorials to get started.

What is Licensed Software?

Licensed software is proprietary software distributed under a licensing agreement to authorised users. It involves private modification, copying and republishing restrictions. In other words, the source code is not shared with the public for anyone to look at or change. Businesses are often defensive of their product and eager to preserve control of their brand and the user experience delivered to their customers, and licensing agreements allow them to do this.

What are the Differences between Open Source and Licensed Software?

Cost – Though open source software is ‘free’, there are long term costs associated with it such as implementation, innovation, offering support, and investing in infrastructure as your organisation progresses, technology changes, and your requirements grow.

More and more, open software providers also charge for extras such as add-ons, integration, and additional services, which can sometimes undo any cost-saving advantages you might have enjoyed. Instead of being free, you pay for a service with open source software.

Licensed software can vary considerably, depending on the complexity of the solution. This includes a base fee for software, integration and services and annual licensing/support fees. Though the hard cost can be higher, you pay for a more customised product from a reliable name, improved security and functionality, continuous innovation, greater scalability, ongoing training and support and a lower requirement for technical skills.

Support – Open source software depends on a loyal and engaged online community providing support through forums and blogs. However, the response times of such communities are naturally slower than dedicated support teams. Questions may go unanswered as there may not necessarily be an expert on hand, and there is no incentive for these communities to help except wanting to be cooperative.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of licensed software is ongoing support, which can assist users without much technical skill. This support can include user manuals and points of contact for immediate assistance from experts who are closely acquainted with the product or service.

Security – As open source software isn’t developed in a controlled environment, security is often a concern. As developers are situated all around the world, there is often a lack of continuity and shared direction that counteracts effective communication. As software isn’t always peer-reviewed or validated, a developer could implant a backdoor Trojan into the software without the user being aware of it.

Licensed software tends to be perceived as more secure since unlike open source software, it’s developed in a controlled environment by a focussed team with a common direction. The team of developers are the only people who can view or edit the source code. This means that it’s heavily audited and the risk of backdoor Trojans is considerably diminished.

Practicality – As open source software tends not to be reviewed as much by usability experts and accommodates to developers rather than the majority of layperson users, the convenience of open source software is frequently criticised. There is often no user guide written, as they are not a legal requirement, and when they are written, they are again made without less experienced users in mind, with technical language and jargon that without sufficient experience would be difficult to understand.

Expert usability testing has enabled licensed software to be more practical for a wider audience. User manuals are usually on hand for instant reference and swift training, and support services ensure that as much as possible is gotten out of the software.

Whether to choose open source or licensed software depends on the needs of your business. If the usefulness of a system that is free of cost to use and distribute, with no agreements or constraints that have to be accepted, outweighs the running costs, security risks and lack of support, then it would probably be in your interest to join the growing trend of open source software. However, if you’re a large business with security concerns, the need for quick support and the money to pay upfront costs, then you may better suit licensed software.