Open Source. It’s probably something everyone has heard of at one point or the other in their lives. Mostly from that utterly geeky friend who took to Java the way we take to English or Hindi or Tamil or whatever. Honestly. The way he went on about it, I’d think he’d begin speaking in it soon…
Uhm! Anyway, forget my programmer friends, they’re not whom we’re here to discuss. Back to business.
So, open source. What is it? What’s so special about it? And more importantly, why is a magazine on startups covering it? If you’re an engineer, you can safely ignore this article and start from the next. But for the uninitiated, this article may be able to introduce you to something which will make you save a lot of money.
What is Open Source Software?
All software is written and then taken through a process called compiling. Generally, the software which we get on our computers is compiled. Before compilation, software is essentially human-readable code. Microsoft and other commercial software firms sell us compiled code, so that it cannot be modified.
Open source software is code accessible to anyone. As the name suggests, the source code of the software is freely available. And most open source licenses have no problems in a provision allowing you to modify the code and distributing it. You can take the code, change the logos, re-brand the software and actually sell it for a profit, no one cares. (Don’t adopt that as a business strategy. I’d rather download the free version.)
However, that is not the part of open source we’re interested in, are we now? Open source is good because it is generally free. Free means totally free. No royalties, hidden costs or anything of that sort.