The history of open source software is a record of steadily turning tremendously expensive custom-built solutions into freely available infrastructure that you can simply take for granted.
What once were astoundingly sophisticated, expensive human endeavors have become open source tools you can drop into place in your project on a whim. Open source has changed what it means to make software today. The federal knowledge worker who shares responsibility for an IT project cannot escape the need to understand trends in the commoditization of information technology.
By commodity, we mean a product, function, or service that is broadly and cheaply available. It is natural for important software systems to eventually become commodities. The end point of this evolution is always a freely available, reliable, open source software project supported by a large, accommodating community.
As projects become more stable and widely used, they develop communities of supporters and users. These communities prevent the negative aspects of being dependent upon, or locked-in to, a single entity for support. No federal project should be handcuffed to a tiny, unproductive development community. The best way to harness the innovative effort of a large number of people is to use a mature, commoditized project that many people are actively contributing to — and that means using open source.
Let us illustrate these evolutionary processes by considering specific examples of two of the most important tools in information technology: the relational database system and full-text search engines. The above graph shows our subjective evaluation of the usefulness of PostgreSQL relative to its total cost of ownership.
Rather, it represents the typical commoditization of software. The community of users and developers drive important software tools from unique inventions to broadly available tools. Along the way, the tool usually becomes a commercial product, and then becomes available as an open source alternative. The same diagram also plots the even more rapid evolution of a an open source full-text search engine, called Lucene. Simon Wardley has articulated and popularized the Wardley-Duncan mapa visual representation of evolution and value for general systems.
The Wardley-Duncan maps below subdivides the Evolution axis to reflect the general evolution and commoditization of open source software. We observe that software naturally evolves through stages, which in a federal context we name:. We can now use these modified maps to understand the evolution of PostgreSQL and Lucene in greater detail, and therefore the evolution of relational databases and full-text search engines.
Simon Wardley has written extensively about how business people can use maps to understand a competitive landscape and succeed at business. We now recap his basic approach, particularly aimed at the federal program manager, acquisition officer, or executive responsible for a software system.Open-source software OSS is any computer software that's distributed with its source code available for modification. That means it usually includes a license for programmers to change the software in any way they choose: They can fix bugs, improve functions, or adapt the software to suit their own needs.
Its definition of open-source software includes ten criteria, relating to matters such as:. Different licenses allow programmers to modify the software with various conditions attached. When you change the source code, OSS requires the inclusion of what you altered as well as your methods.
The software created after code modifications may or may not be made available for free. As a result, users often pay for it. OSS, on the other hand, is a collaborative effort; The software is shared intellectual property among all who have helped develop or alter it.
Although the terms are often used interchangeably, OSS is slightly different from free software. However, free software—a concept developed in the s by an MIT computer science researcher, Richard Stallman—is defined by four conditions, as outlined by the nonprofit Free Software Foundation. These "four freedoms" emphasize the ability of users to use and enjoy software as they see fit. In contrast, the OSS criteria, which the Open Source Initiative developed a decade later, place more emphasis on the modification of software, and the consequences of altering source code, licensing, and distribution.
The two overlap; some would say the differences between OSS and free software are more philosophical than practical.
How to use more open source in your next federal IT acquisition
However, neither should be confused with freeware. Freeware usually refers to proprietary software that users can download at no cost, but whose source code cannot be changed. Open-source technologies helped establish much of the internet.
Furthermore, many of the programs in use every day are based on open-source technologies. OSS projects are collaboration opportunities that improve skills and build connections in the field.
Areas that developers can work on include:. Email, real-time messaging, forums, and wikis help developers to find solutions or bounce ideas off each other. When multiple developers in different geographical locations modify data and files, these systems manage the different versions and updates. Open-source software is an alternative to proprietary software.
Participating in an OSS project can be a pathway to building a career in software development, allowing programmers to hone their skills by working on the biggest software programs in the world.Again and again, we encounter executives who do not grasp how much their organization already depends on open source. More importantly, they do not see the key role that open source technologies and thinking will play in enabling their efforts to transform into a customer-obsessed business that really can win, serve, and retain customers.
More on that report in a minute. The mindset and narrative around open source have changed. Enterprise IT and business leaders should be able to keep up with IT organizations doing innovative work with open source technologies. Review this list to be versed in the top players and names to know in the world of open source. Hint: Think containers and cloud. The report offers valuable background for both hiring managers and job seekers.
The best open source software 2020: free, open software for home or business
Open Source Leadership Summit — This annual Linux Foundation event is geared toward leaders responsible for driving open source strategies and implementation within their organizations. Although the event already has taken place, you can browse the keynotes for sessions on Kubernetes, blockchain, security, AI, and more, to get a good idea of how other leaders are thinking about open source.
All Things Open — Taking place October in Raleigh, NC, All Things Open features sessions, 14 workshops, and conference tracks for on topics including cloud, blockchain, big data, and more.
The Architect's Newsletter — Newsletters are a great way to get a steady stream of timely insights and industry news. The InfoQ Architects' Newsletter, a monthly guide for software architects and IT leaders, features a curated collection of links, commentary, news, and case studies. Recent issues have explored chaos engineering and building resilient distributed systems.
The site also features an extensive resource library, including cheat sheets on open source technologies and guides on open source alternatives to popular proprietary solutions. The Changelog — Changelog, another newsletter option for developers, also offers a few podcasts for people who prefer to learn on their morning commute. The Changelog podcast features conversations with leaders, engineers, and innovators in software development. The latest episode highlights the Ballerina programming language for microservices.
This talk might spark a few ideas for your next hackathon. Fundamentals of Professional Open Source Management — Finally, if you are ready to roll up your sleeves and get started, The Linux Foundation offers a course overviewing the key phases of developing on open source management program. The course tackles one of the biggest challenges — getting business executives, legal, development and other key stakeholders on the same page.
Thank you for the article. To round out your references, I'd also recommend IT leaders and advocates familiarize themselves--and partner with--organizations working to promote open source awareness, adoption and development.
Joining and supporting free and open source software organizations lifts all boats:. The organizations gain increased recognition and authority as valued resources through active partnerships with businesses and other organizations, e.When someone buys a new smartphone, often they're preoccupied with the camera specs or the size of the screen or its storage capabilities.
It's easy to overlook one of the most foundational aspects of these sleek consumer gadgets: their operating systems. The world's most popular mobile operating system is Google's Android.
It powers more than 86 percent of smartphones in the world. What's even more remarkable is that Android is based on the open source Linux operating system. That means anyone can view the code at the heart of the vast majority of smartphones, modify it, and, more important, share it with anyone else.
This openness enables collaboration. Unlike, say, Microsoft Windows, which was developed and is maintained by a single company, Linux is developed and maintained by more than 15, programmers around the world.
For free. Open source is even seeing applications in the next iteration of technology: AI. Google open sourced its artificial intelligence engine, TensorFlow, inenabling companies and researchers to build applications using some of the same software the search giant used to create tools that search photos, recognize spoken words, and translate languages.
Since then, Dropbox has used TensorFlow to recognize text in scanned documents and photographs, Airbnb has used it to help categorize photos in its listings, and a company called Connecterra has used it to help dairy farmers analyze their cows' health.
Why would Google give away something so central to its business? Because it hoped outside developers would make the software better as they adapted it to their own needs.
And they have: Google says more than 1, outsiders have worked on TensorFlow. By making it open source, Google helped TensorFlow become one of the standard frameworks for developing AI applications, which could bolster its cloud-hosted AI services. In addition to garnering outside help for a project, open source can provide valuable marketing, helping companies attract and retain technical talent. Keep in mind that Google didn't give away the data that powers its AI applications.
Just using TensorFlow won't magically allow you to build a search engine and advertising business that can compete with Google. So Google stands to benefit, but why would an outsider contribute improvements to TensorFlow?
Let's say a company makes its own version of TensorFlow with unique elements, but keeps those elements private. Over time, as Google made its own changes to TensorFlow, it might become harder for that other company to integrate its changes with the official version; also, the second company would miss out on improvements contributed by others.
The open source software movement grew out of the related, but separate, "free software" movement. For Stallman, the idea of "free" software was about more than giving software away. It was about ensuring that users were free to use software as they saw fit, free to study its source code, free to modify it for their own purposes, and free to share it with others.
Source code The human-readable code that is translated, or "compiled," into the binary code that machines can read. When you buy software like Microsoft Office, you typically only get the binary code, which makes it hard to understand or modify the software.
Open source software Software distributed with a license that allows anyone to use, view, modify, and share the software's source code. GPL The GNU Public License, a software license that allows anyone to use, view, modify, and share a project's source code; but anyone who uses the code to create a derivative work must also provide the source code for that work under the GPL.
Apache An open source web server, a software foundation, and a permissive license that, unlike the GPL, allows source code to be mixed into non-open source, commercial code. Open core software Commercial software built on open source software that also includes non-open source code. Library Usually smaller collections of code that can be used as building blocks for larger projects, saving developers from having to write common features, such as password authentication, from scratch. Fork A copy of a code base that serves as the basis for a distinct version of the software.
Often forks are used by individuals or companies to customize software for their own needs. Other times, they become the foundations of separate projects. Libre Office, for example, is a fork of Open Office.We are committed to researching, testing, and recommending the best products.
We may receive commissions from purchases made after visiting links within our content. Learn more about our review process. But even though paid and proprietary e.
Microsoft Office software programs are great, the open-source software world offers a lot of exciting stuff. So what exactly does open-source mean? Simple speaking, open-source software is something that can be freely modified, edited and redistributed without any copyright issues. And there are quite a few cases where you may want to use these types of programs. For instance, you may need a slightly-tweaked version of a data analyzer software to suit your project's needs.
Such tweaks are only allowed when you use an open-source data analysis program. You may also want to use open-source software programs for accounting, time tracking at work or even data recovery.
With so much to learn about open-source software, it can be hard to know where to start and decide which programs are worth your time. To help cut straight to the chase, we did some research and put together a useful list of the best open-source software programs to download right now.
External hard drives and cloud-storage services are no doubt good, but optical discs e. DVD, Blu-ray remain the best medium for distribution and long-term storage of digital data.
Disc burning software makes it easy to transfer regular files, high-definition movies, etc. Completely free, Cdrtfe is an open-source burning application for Windows. Cdrtfe can create bootable discs and burn ISO images. It even supports writing simultaneously to multiple writers. With Cdrtfe, you can create multi-session CDs, as well as extract audio tracks to.
The program can erase both quick and full rewritable discs, and be used with command line options for better control. Cdrtfe uses cdrtools and other modules as a backend, and can even be integrated with Windows Explorer via ShellExtension. Thanks to their advanced video recording capabilities, modern-day smartphones have made shooting high-resolution videos a cakewalk.
That said, you still need a video editor program to transform raw footage into stellar-looking videos.Joinsubscribers and get a daily digest of news, geek trivia, and our feature articles. Open-source software licenses give users freedoms they would not otherwise have.
Image Credit: Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr. If a program is open-source, its source code is freely available to its users. Its users — and anyone else — have the ability to take this source code, modify it, and distribute their own versions of the program. The users also have the ability to distribute as many copies of the original program as they want.
Anyone can use the program for any purpose; there are no licensing fees or other restrictions on the software. For example, Ubuntu Linux is an open-source operating system. You can download Ubuntu, create as many copies as you want, and give them to your friends. You can install Ubuntu on an unlimited amount of your computers.
You can create remixes of the Ubuntu installation disc and distribute them. If you were particularly motivated, you could download the source code for a program in Ubuntu and modify it, creating your own customized version of that program — or of Ubuntu itself. Open-source licenses all allow you to do this, while closed-source licenses place restrictions on you. The opposite of open-source software is closed-source software, which has a license that restricts users and keeps the source code from them.
Firefox, Chrome, OpenOffice, Linux, and Android are some popular examples of open-source software, while Microsoft Windows is probably the most popular piece of closed-source software out there. In other words, the free software camp focuses on user freedoms. Richard Stallman. Image by Fripog on Flickr. The open-source software movement was created to focus on more pragmatic reasons for choosing this type of software. Open-source advocates wanted to focus on the practical benefits of using open-source software that would appeal more to businesses, rather than ethics and morals.
Ultimately, both open-source and free software advocates are developing the same type of software, but they disagree on the messaging. There are many different licenses used by open-source projects, depending on which the developers prefer for their program.
In addition to all the above definitions of open-source, the terms of the GPL specify that, if anyone modifies an open-source program and distributes a derivative work, they must also distribute the source code for their derivative work.
In other words, no one can take open-source code and create a closed-source program from it — they must release their changes back to the community. Some other licenses, such as the BSD license, place less restrictions on developers.Finding new software is a breeze for Linux users. But which of those programs are right for you? We have answers. The applications highlighted here are the pick of the litter for the average Linux user looking to stock up on software.
Heck, these particular applications are so good that almost all of them are available on other platforms and are popular even among Windows users. Most Linux distributions include Mozilla Firefox as their default browser, but we like Chromium. You probably spend a lot of time in your web browser, so this choice really matters. Chromium is still more responsive due to its multi-process architecture, which runs each tab individually.
But Chromium still seems better. Google Chrome is basically the same as Chromium, but with some closed-source bits. LibreOffice is a fork of the OpenOffice.
But LibreOffice includes powerful applications for writing text documents, working with spreadsheets, creating presentations, working with databases, and more. Mozilla Thunderbird is the ideal desktop email program for the average Linux user. Email clients are a dime a dozen, and there are a lot of options here.
Development has slowedbut Thunderbird still does everything it needs to. Together with the official Mozilla Lightning extension, Thunderbird becomes an email, calendaring, and tasks application. Just open the Add-ons window in Thunderbird and search for Lightning to install it. This is a solid alternative to Microsoft Outlook for basic desktop productivity.
It allows you to keep your calendar and tasks entirely on your own computer, or sync with online services like Google Calendar.
Most Linux distributions have shifted away from the venerable Pidgin instant messenger application and towards alternatives like Empathy that offer more desktop integration. But Pidgin is still the most solid, reliable, and well-functioning instant messenger for Linux. The biggest problem with Pidgin is just the shift toward more closed messaging networks.
What more is there to say about VLC? Your desktop environment probably includes its own simple video player, and that can work well for you. This is the application you need for managing your digital photos. Shotwell can automatically import photos from a connected camera and let you manage your photo library on your desktop.
The software also includes easy editing tools for touching up and working with your photos.
Why is open source software more secure?
Every other application on this list runs on Windows, but this particular application is only for Linux desktops. For simple image-editing and touch-ups, stick with something like Shotwell. GIMP has improved over the years, though—it now offers a single-window mode to help reduce all that window clutter. If you want to do something image-editing-related, GIMP can probably do it. Deluge is one of the best open-source BitTorrent clients, offering a powerful plug-in system and an interface that will feel familiar to uTorrent users.
Your average BitTorrent user will love Deluge. It has a nice simple interface, but lacks some of the more powerful features found in Deluge. Both are solid options, depending on how many features you want and which interface you prefer.