What is open-source software?
Open-source software utilizes the open-source development methodology. The open-source software development methodology states that software created in an open-source project should have its source code available to the public and allow modifications of that source code.
Another hallmark of an open-source software development project is the redistribution of source code by online communities of developers.
The open-source movement has a community behind it that maintains its definition and guidelines. The community also has an opposing view of proprietary software, which is why they are so keen on allowing users to access a program’s source code.
Why use open-source software?
There are quite a few ways that individuals and organizations can benefit from using open-source software. These are some of the most common benefits businesses gain from using open-source:
- Powerful Networking Community. Many commonly used programs are open-source (such as Mozilla Firefox), and therefore have a large community of users and troubleshooters online.
- Worldwide Usage. Because many open-source programs are heavily used worldwide, they have much more online support than you would think.
- No Cost. The majority of open-source software is available to download for free.
- Variety of Options. Open-source programs support a movement of users and developers that believe in software with higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and no predatory vendor lock-in.
- Peer Programmers. The open-source community is very active online, and the open-source code for most popular software programs is continually being reviewed and upgraded by a community of programmers. The coding is thought of as a living project rather than a closed one that becomes outdated.
- The Open in Open-Source. Curious about how your data is used or how the code has been edited? That’s open in open-source, developers can check those things for themselves without having to rely on vendor transparency.
Common license types
Open-source software projects utilize many different licenses that allow users and commercial organizations to run, alter, and share different software code sets. These licenses are legal agreements between developers and users.
The licenses allow the code to be accessed freely while setting certain conditions around how it can be repurposed for a different project. There are over 200 additional open-source software licenses. These are 3 of the most common:
Open-source software licenses can allow developers to access code for programs, make modifications, and redistribute their version freely online. This creates many outside the box options for small businesses looking for affordable, highly functional software to complete business tasks.
Commercialization models: how open-source software makes money
Certain companies are in a business that relies on the development of open-source software. Since most open-source software is free of charge, you might be wondering how anyone can make any money off it. After all, businesses exist to make money.
Here are some of the more popular commercialization models for companies that have an open-source software business model.
- Support – The software might be free to download and install, but it will require lots of support if it’s complex software. The support costs money.
- Hosting – The cloud is popular, so why not host a full version of your open-source software project in the cloud? Then, the user doesn’t have to worry about managing the IT aspects themselves. For a fee, of course.
- Restrictive licensing – Most open-source software has relatively permissive licensing models. The restrictive model does the opposite and uses restrictive licensing that creates legal incentives and reasons for users to pay the vendor. For example, enterprise-level versions of some open-source software require a commercial license.
- Open-core – This is currently one of the most utilized business models for open-source software companies. Most of the code is open-source, while small portions are made proprietary. The proprietary part is targeted towards enterprise users, while the open-source part continues to be made available. The nature of this model requires the company to maintain two sets of code for two user groups.