What is Open Source Software
, and how can it benefit you? Open Source Software is free software that allows you to use it, modify it, or as “Nixie Pixie” says, “can do almost anything” that the more expensive software options offer. In today’s economy, Open Source software can allow a family to save money and still have the latest computer software for their computer.
The concept is not entirely new. According to Wikipedia, “The concept of open source and the free sharing of technological information existed long before computers existed. In the early years of automobile development, a group of capital monopolists owned the rights to a 2 cycle gasoline engine patent originally filed by George B. Selden
. By controlling this patent, they were able to monopolize the industry and force car manufacturers to adhere to their demands, or risk a lawsuit. In 1911, independent automaker Henry Ford won a challenge to the Selden patent.
The result was that the Selden patent became virtually worthless and a new association (which would eventually become the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association) was formed. The new association instituted a cross-licensing agreement among all US auto manufacturers: although each company would develop technology and file patents, these patents were shared openly and without the exchange of money between all the manufacturers.”
For computer software, the move toward Open Source Software offers computer users alternatives to some of the more expensive products on the consumer market. Some of the alternatives are arguably better and more secure than their commercial counterparts.
For example if you wished, you could replace your entire Windows® operating system with Linux. Linux is an Open Source and free operating system. Linux
is a good replacement if your slightly older computer hard-drive were to crash. Having had a computer hard-drive fail, and attempting to replace it with Microsoft XP® recently, I went through a two and a half hour waiting game with the company’s friendly telephone support team.
After starting each call asking for personal information, and having been cut off three after being put on hold for ten minutes, I was finally told that the company no longer offers help for what is still a very common and widely used operating system. All that was needed was a way to successfully enter the security code for what the support staff stated was a valid licensed version of their software. It no longer can be done.
So even though you may have a valid copy of their operating system, you can’t successfully load it into a new computer. In an ever environmentally friendly world, the alternative to tossing a computer in the trash, or loading an alternative operating system seemed a more friendly to the environment approach than Microsoft® offered.
One example of what I believe is a superior product is the Mozilla Firefox
browser. While many computer users are content to continue along using the Internet browser supplied with their computer, legions of serious computer users have gone to the free Firefox browser seeking a more secure and safer browser experience.
In a statement Mozilla states, “Firefox 3.5 was built through Mozilla’s global, open source development process. The Mozilla community comprises thousands of passionate contributors, including experienced developers, security experts, localization and support communities in more than 60 countries, and tens of thousands of active testers. With more than 300 million active users, Firefox is the only popular Web browser created by a non-profit organization”.
Another is Open Office which is an alternative to the more popular commercial program Microsoft Office®. This program offers all of the components of its competitors, and files created on it can also be opened in the alternative program.
If you are looking for a program that will let you manipulate your photographs, look no further than Gimp. The developers state, “GIMP is our answer to the current lack of free (or at least reasonably priced) image manipulation software for GNU/Linux and UNIX in general.”
There are always alternatives and for computer users, Open Source Software offer the savvy computer user some very solid alternatives.