This is what you see when you Google “what is open-source?”

What Do We Think Open-Source Means?

This is a perfectly fine definition for explaining open-source software, but it is fairly vague. There is more to open-source than many people realize.

To be able to call your software open source, there are several requirements. Here is a list of some of the most important ones.

  • To be called open-source, the software must provide a copy of its source code.  The software must also allow complete and free redistribution. The source code has to be provided in a form that other programmers are able to modify. If the code is not included with the software, there must be an easily accessible form that can be downloaded by the public.
  • The author must allow modified versions to be distributed under the same license as the original.
  • The author must not prevent anyone from giving away the software or selling the software as part of a distribution of a software package that includes multiple programs. If someone does sell the software, the original author cannot demand any royalties.
  • The original author must not discriminate against anyone that may redistribute or modify the software.
  • If anyone redistributes the original software, the original license must be redistributed along with it.
  • The license cannot place restrictions on other software that may be distributed with it.

If the software does not meet these requirements, it cannot be considered an open-source license.

How Can You Help With an Open-Source Project Even If You’re Not a Programmer?

There are many ways you can contribute to open-source software without any coding ability.

  • Bring any issues you experience to the attention of the software’s developer. User feedback is an extremely important part of the development process that often goes overlooked. If your software crashes, tell the developer about it! If the issues are never reported, they will never be fixed. Everyone benefits when issues are reported.
  • Document everything. If you are an experienced software user, you should be able to create proper documentation on how to fully utilize a program. Unfortunately, open-source software is often lacking in proper documentation.
  • Test, test, and test again. This creates another opportunity to find bugs and report them to the developer. Beta testing creates the perfect opportunity to report issues because the software hasn’t been through a full release yet. This is exactly what beta testing is meant to be.
  • Share your wisdom on forums. This is similar to documentation in terms of benefits. Experienced software users have a tremendous opportunity to help other people that are trying to learn. These users can be an extremely valuable asset to others who are just starting out with a particular piece of open-source software.

Open Source Is Important

Open-source is important because it gives everyone the right to study and learn. Proprietary software does not typically offer the freedom to view or modify the code whatsoever. Open-source comes with the ability to learn and share.

Chances are you have used open-source software and may have not even realized it. You’re actually using one open-source software program right now. WordPress is a derivative of B2 blog software. WordPress is now one of the world’s biggest blogging and hosting platforms. Our blog is written and published using WordPress. Some other popular examples of open-source software that you may be familiar with are:

  • Mozilla Firefox – This open-source web browser competes with other popular browsers, such as Google Chrome, Internet Explorer and Apple Safari.
  • Mozilla Thunderbird – This is an open-source email client that we often suggest to our own customers. Thunderbird is a great open-source alternative to Microsoft Outlook.
  • Magento – This is a widely used open-source E-commerce platform. The community edition is available for free.

Open-source software is widely available and incredibly useful. Look around and see what open-source software you may be able to utilize on a daily basis. You will save yourself some money and may even be able to aid in the expansion of the open-source community! Try it now!