Home > Blogs > Why Open Source Matters: Musings from OSCON

With OSCON taking place in Oregon from 7/20/2014 – 7/24/2014, the Open Source community will come together to discuss everything new in the Open Source world. From OSS to Java, Python to PHP, Cloud Computing to Perl and emerging programming languages to mobile platforms, the Open Source community has a lot to chat about.

This said, I wanted to take the time to discuss why the Open Source initiative matters by highlighting a few key elements of the protocol which help to make it so powerful.

Before we even get going, if you are in need of great Open Source Software learning materials – books, eBooks and video – check out the InformIT Open Source Resource Center. At 40% off from now until August 8th, getting your hands on some killer MySQL, Python, Ubuntu, HTML5, OpenGL, NodeJS, Java and Node.js is easier and more affordable than ever. Get your Open Source content, 40% off, now.

That said. Why Open Source Matters.

1. Code, Glitches and Open Source Security

The more the merrier. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) has given birth to multiple Linux operating systems, multiple programming languages and more mobile applications than I can count. Possibly the largest benefit of Open Source is how multiple minds can tinker with a single bit of code. On there head Open Source applications sound unstable and insecure. Yet much to the opposite, precisely for the reason of so many eyeballs seeing a single bit of code, open source applications are highly secure.

As noted by the Linus Law, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow,” or as Eric S. Raymond stated more formally, “given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix will be obvious to someone.” The single best aspect of Open Source is anyone can use it, learn from it, fix it and make it better.

2. You Down with OSS?

Open Source Software, quickly know as OSS, is computer software with source code open for public consumption. Commonly known as forking code, OSS allows developers and programmers to take the source code of one program and build another platform on top of it. Some common examples of OSS:

  • Firefox
  • MySQL
  • Knowledge Tree
  • Sendmail
  • Apache
  • CentOS
  • Ubuntu
  • Thunderbird
  • KVM
  • Xen
  • PF Sense
  • GIMP
  • VNC
  • OpenOffice

The list goes on and on. Ranging from office productivity suites to virtualization solutions powering Cloud platforms, from Linux operating systems to database management systems and web servers to search engines, OSS has yielded tons of wonderful tech tools available for mass consumption.

Open Source Software is wonderful because it allows programmers and coders to coalesce around a platform like GitHub to build killer software, applications and programs for mass market use.

3. GitHub

Need help writing some code? Need help fixing an issue with some code you wrote? Want to join other programmers to fix faulty code? Interested in forking the source code of one program with a few devs to create an entirely new platform? GitHub.

With over 3.4 million users and nearly 3 million code repositories, GitHub is the go to community for collaborative open source application development. With an ever growing database of users and code repositories, GitHub is quickly becoming the Wikipedia of coding. As the largest open source coding community in the world, not only is GitHub a place for collaboration, it is an environment for testing, learning and playing with code before it gets mainstream release.

4. The Rat Race of Proprietary Software

Anyone who has ever purchased a copy of Microsoft Office or Abode Photoshop knows the annoyance of plugging in a long software code to validate purchase. Once plugged in, the code allows the software developer to push software updates to your copy whenever they feel necessary. Proprietary code updates can be a blessing yet in most cases, they prove to be a pain.


Wait Time. Being dependent on proprietary software companies for software updates means you have to wait for the programs you love to get updated. Unlike Open Source ecology where updates can come from everyone and anyone, being tied to a proprietary software provider means playing on their time. With Open Source coding, updates come from other developers or, even better, you can provide the update through working on forked code.

Strict Updates. Using a program suite like Microsoft Office means the updates Microsoft provides you with are wholly dependent on what Microsoft’s developers’ have been working on. Moreover, you might not even want an update to Spotify or Adobe Photoshop and yet, coding updates are pushed your way. With Open Source software, updates come when you want them, how you want them and when you need them. Open Source means only updating software when you want to.

5. Try, Test, Play, Change

With the Open Source Initiative being free to the world, coders, developers, programmers, companies and regular end users can try out different software without having to break the bank. As OSS is free to fork and use, end users have access to an almost unlimited amount of programs all carrying no cost. This freedom allows for playing with different programs to see which one suits your needs.

Unlike the world of proprietary software wherein every piece of software carries a cost, Open Source is free thus enabling users to try, test, play and change.

This said, if you love Open Source and are in need of some great learning materials check out the InformIT Open Source Resource Center. At 40% off from now until August 8th, getting your hands on some killer MySQL, Python, Ubuntu, HTML5, OpenGL, NodeJS, Java and Node.js is easier and more affordable than ever. Get your Open Source content, 40% off, now.

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