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Open Source Software Essay

1483 words - 6 pages

Open source software is becoming more widespread as the IT industry expands. This type of software is great for the people that choose to build their own versions of applications. Some view this type of software to be unethical and crippling to companies that release programs in order to make a profit. Having access to the source code can benefit end-users in more ways than one and could potentially result in a better product.
The idea behind open source software is that a program can be released to the public and its source code must be readily available to users for modifications of the code. This benefits the users because over time, programs can be changed to fix bugs and ultimately evolve the original version into a better end-product. Many of the developers are unpaid, but this promotes better a better design because there isn’t a profit involved. Authors are motivated by pride and peer recognition rather than a development plan supplied by the marketing department. Most want to use the software themselves and they prefer robustness before adding features. The user that obtains the software after it is created can then tweak it to their liking. Each person that alters the code (or adds patches) is authorized to redistribute the new product over the internet. Software that is developed by companies such as Microsoft prefer their software to be appealing to the eyes of the consumer as opposed to some open source software. This software is usually more practical than visually appealing. Since there is a low profit margin, the main goal is functionality and ease of use rather than having a visually attractive appearance.
The term “bug” when discussing open source software doesn’t necessarily mean there is an issue with the software. Bugs usually describe errors in programming that result in a program not functioning correctly. But determining whether it is a bug or a feature is a grey area. Usually bugs found in OSS are resolved rather quickly. Because the software can be manipulated by anyone that obtains the source code, end-users that find the bugs can fix them and distribute an unofficial version of the software with the repair. Users can choose to use the unofficial version or wait to download the official version after the software fix is proven effective by the project team.
Many large companies that distribute software tend to not change their programs very often unless there are large technological reasons to do so. They don’t find it effective to modify the programs if they are currently working fine unless there are large technological changes that could greatly benefit the user. These companies often force the user to upgrade due to using different file formats or discontinuing updates and technical support on older versions. This can be very costly to the consumer and the changes between the old and the new software can sometimes be very minute. Sometimes, it may be better to build a new program from the...

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