For those of you that are not familiar with the term open source, it refers to a model of development that allows anyone to view, edit and distribute the source code for the project.
Open source is a fantastic way to get software projects developed quickly and it tends to grow communities around those projects because everyone is able to get involved and help with various parts of the projects.
Linux/GNU is one of the greatest examples of an open source project and one that most people have at least heard of, and probably are also aware of its benefits – the most obvious one being that Linux/GNU is free to use and distribute. A lesser thought of advantage of Linux/GNU is that because of its open source nature, security holes and vulnerabilities can be discovered, patched and released much faster than with traditional closed source software – and the reason is simple, because anyone with the right knowledge and skills can implement those fixes, and them submit them for inclusion in the software – whereas traditionally with closed source software, these fixes would have to come from the owner of the software – and this process is often much slower.
And of course its not just security vulnerabilities that can be patched more quickly, general improvements to the software also tend to be found, coded and released much more frequently than with closed source software.
Examples of Open Source Projects
As you can imagine, there are hundreds of thousands of open source projects on the go at any one time, but some of the popullar ones that you may have heard of are listed below:
- Open Stack – An open source cloud computing project that allows users to manage computing resources to easily configure and deploy virtual appliances.
- Docker – Docker is an open source platform for creating containers in which you can distribute self contained applications that can run on any system.
- Project Libre – Is an open source replacement for Microsoft Project.
How can I get Involved in open source projects?
There are always openings in the open source industry for people to get involved – and its not just coders that are needed. There are many different aspects to an open source project such as design, documentation, bug testing and translation – so as you can imagine there are a variety of skill sets required.
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One of the best places to find out about open source projects and to get involved in teh community is OpenSource.com – there you can find out all of the latest news about open source – whats happening, new projects and more information on how you can go about making a contribution.
The Future of Open Source
As we see more and more technologies emerging, and especially technologies that are having a global impact on day to day life in both business and at a consumer level open source projects and beginning to become more and more fruitful.
With the event of global digital currencies such as Bitcoin, the need for global digital identity systems and the fast rise of cloud computing – all platforms and projects that have global impact and by there vary nature will not work in a controlled and closed source environment – open source platforms and the ways of development and community that come with those platforms, are going to become more and more important, and perhaps intrinsic to the future of technology.