By Diana Zelikman, Fueled

As open source software continues to develop, many companies have begun to see the incredible value that it could bring to their organizations.

Conglomerates such as Facebook, Mozilla, and Google have used open source to develop highly successful products. But if you aren’t quite sure what it really is, we want to give you an introduction to what it is and the benefits it has provided to today’s users and businesses.

What is open source?

Open source indicates any program whose original source code has been made available for modification and redistribution. Software developers can take source code, either free or sold, and contribute to its development. This results in a free license to make subsequent improvements on the product by any developer.

For users, open source allows for greater reliability in software products, while offering a greater level of security. However, don’t assume that open source means free. Developers do sometimes charge for the use of their code. Most open source licenses require the entire code to be provided with software purchase though, so most developers make the bulk of their money offering things like software services and support.

Benefits of using open source

By offering a more customizable alternative to software that’s proprietary, or closed source, open source has had a significant amount of growth in product development. Closed source software isn’t always able to offer the same specificity that open source can when meeting the quickly changing needs of businesses. More often than not, open source can address solutions better and develop a more individualized experience for its users.

Because any user can help resolve performance bugs, open source can continually be improved upon. Open source maximizes immediate performance whereas licensed software requires wait periods for updates or new releases. A large number of developers can identify and correct software issues quickly. This makes open source software exponentially cheaper than proprietary, which normally is loaded with hidden expenses.

Additionally, software that is easily accessible in different locations without any monitoring is extremely useful. It’s just one example of the limitations imposed by licensed software that can be overridden by open source and have a positive impact on the profitability of a company.

Future of open source

Last month in Napa Valley at Linux Foundation’s Linux Collaboration Summit, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Foundation, proposed that open source will soon become the norm over closed software. He predicted that, eventually, 80 per cent of all technology will be built on this kind of software.

Up to 700 companies are already using open source software on a daily basis and those are just the ones who volunteered for the Foundation’s voluntary survey. Not only has open source become a key innovative factor in technology, it will continue to transform a variety of industries in the future. Open source gives users the power of innovation. This will have an impact on the ways in which users apply open source technology to meet the needs of society.

In production, for example, there will be a more diverse process of supplying goods to consumers. With the advent of 3D printing, open source will lead to products that are more easily customized to meet the demands of the consumer.

Science, government, and education will all be transformed through the use of open source technology. It will allow for increased sharing of research that can lead to significant advances in society’s growth.

Open source has been at the heart of some today’s largest technology companies. It has allowed software developers and users to contribute to products and enhance their function and performance. In the future, open source will continue to create new innovations in government, education, and medicine for the benefit of all.

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    A common concern for end-users who wish to use open source software is the lack of a warranty and technical support. Because the software’s license encourages modification and customization, it is nearly impossible to support. This is why Red Hat Software, founded in 1994, created the “Official Red Hat Linux” – http://www.agileinfoways.com – and is able to sell this normally “free” software. The main value that Red Hat adds to the package is a warranty and technical support. For most businesses, the assurance of technical support has been a key factor in the decision to buy Linux instead of simply downloading it for free. In addition to Red Hat, there are several other companies that have packaged Linux, usually with additional software, for resale.