What Is Open Source And Why Is It So Important?
When it comes to technology – software and hardware – we typically pay a fee to use it, whether that’s an outright price or a regular subscription. But there’s another way to get the tech you need – open source.
In this article, we look at what open source is and why it matters.
What is open source?
Open source is a term used to describe software and hardware that is free to use – partially or entirely. Open-source tech is publicly accessible. Anyone can view, edit, or distribute it. And that means open-source technology is typically community-based: since everyone can use it without feeling like they’ve paid for it, users are much more likely to collaborate with others and share how they have been using the technology.
Open-source tech runs from the hardware end of the scale, with building and programming tools like Arduino boards, through to software applications like WordPress, which forms the basis of many sites on the net.
The approach is highly popular. In the top 1 million sites on the internet, 513,775 are based on open source technology, according to December 2021 BuiltWith statistics. And in a 2021 GitHub survey, Open Source Programme Offices (which govern licenses and compliance) were deemed business-critical by 63% of respondent businesses.
So, why is open-source technology so important?
Open source is transparent and can improve security
Due to being completely visible, editable, and sharable, open-source software and hardware is totally transparent. While you might think being able to edit tech would make it less secure, the community-driven nature of open source means any security issues are quickly identified and fixed by an army of eagle-eyed users. That makes it potentially highly secure.
Open source can improve the quality of products
By pooling the brainpower of thousands of developers, open-source technology can quickly become very high quality due to the sheer amount of expertise and ideas coming together. Quality can be much higher than in-house-developed software or hardware developed by teams of only hundreds.
Open source provides equal access and opportunities
Free code is great for society. Thanks to being equal access, anyone can benefit from the solutions solved by open-source technology. In practice, that means more education, more problems solved, and growth opportunities realized.
Open source has proved itself a crucial and growing driver of software and hardware used across the world. What do you think of it? Let us know your opinions and experiences in the comments section.