What is open source software and what are its pros and cons?

The Open Source software is that kind of product whose original source code can be retrieved by anyone. It is particularly best for those who own a small business and do not have enough funds to invest. If someone downloads it to make its use personally, he or she is highly unlikely going through the whole code, but only using it as a random end-user. In case of a commercial implementation, the requirements may change and so does the need for the (same) software modification or entirely switch to another if the needs are not met.

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Closed Source or Proprietary Software

As the name directly suggests, this is the kind of software product whose source code is not publicly shared by those who originally created it, but only themselves and/or those who are involved in the maintenance. It sometimes gets hard to decide which kind of product a person must consider for personal or commercial purposes. The following paragraphs therefore explain the pros of Open Source software product over Closed source software, and cons of open source code.

Advantages of Open Source software over Proprietary software

Free or cheap: The Open Source software projects may not be necessarily free of cost entirely. This means that either the software itself holds a particular value in terms of cost OR requires assistance of the software developers that would eventually require to invest some amount of money.

On the other hand, the Closed Source software are to be purchased (or are on a free trial basis for a limited time period), but the assistance is usually cheap or totally free of cost. Moreover, if someone does a thorough research on the licensed products and finally decides to buy a well-recognized thing, the issues would get resolved if appear in the meantime. This is irrespective of the number of developers and particular individuals who might be contributing.

Modify your own version: If you are a technical enthusiast, you may download the source code and modify as per your own convenience. This involves those features that you don’t want, fixing a number of errors, if any; and/or a few additional characteristics that you really require to run.

Since the source code is not publicly accessible in case of the Proprietary Software, the modifications can only be done by those who actually wrote the code or who are into the software maintenance.

More collaboration: Frequent improvements happen in case more programmers are involved. If there are limited number of developers (in case of Closed Source software products) it may be possible that a few issues are left unnoticed and the troubleshoot doesn’t happen. If the software engineers from around the world actually contribute in modifying a particular project, the chances are higher that they see through things in a different dimension that everyone else doesn’t see, and vice versa.

Alteration in case of bugs: If someone understands the computer programming then it is possible for him/her to rectify the existing errors, if there are any. Although, if a person is not familiar with the code at all, he/she has to look elsewhere to search for someone who is really good at this. The bugs would be fixed then after.

In case of a licensed product, the troubles could be resolved by contacting the customer support and it will be rectified within the estimated days, depending on the kind of bugs that are interrupting and the complexity of the software itself.

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Disadvantages of Open Source software

Access to hackers: If the source code is made public, the hackers would access it too and look for the presence of vulnerabilities. The code should be perfect which is not guaranteed in case of an Open Source; unless it is a renowned one and has many programmers to collaborate.

Expensive if one doesn’t know how to do computer programming: Depending on the type of software, one may require to invest lots of money if he or she has little to no knowledge about the computer programming. Also, the programming part is so deep that an individual may become lazy to go through each line of code. This is why hiring somebody forever or until when one uses the product becomes costly at times.

Better option for those who know coding: Handling an Open Source software gets difficult because of the risks involved, such as not having the slightest idea of programming, or so little that it does not contribute at all. One must at least know some of the basics of coding, so that the lines of codes can be understood, if not explicitly be able to modify. The open source software may not require to be modified at all, but still cannot guarantee that the programmers you find over the internet are reliable in terms of solving a particular issue, OR asking for payment before or after the troubleshoot.

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