Many of the components that make up our lives today would be completely alien to people only half a century ago. Our worlds revolve around computers, and we use them for practically anything. Of course, in order to do so, we need computer programs which translate our input into what a computer can understand, and there are several types of programs that people use. Most commonly, they are split into two categories –free and paid programs, based on whether you pay the company which created the product. However, free programs often do not have all the necessary options that users seek, and paid programs often rely on a subscription that needs to be renewed. This is why open-source programs are useful.
What are open-source programs?
Open-source combines the best of both worlds; it provides a powerful program, which is not only free to use, but the source code for the program is delivered to the user alongside the program. This is an attempt to effectively get all users and developers who use the program to contribute to making it better for everyone. The users are then free to copy or modify the program any way they see fit.
How does it work?
Usually, products work by being copyrighted. Copyright creates some sort of reimbursement for the creator of the product, which acts as an incentive to motivate the creator to continue working, improve the product, and the service offered to customers. Some would argue that with an open-source system, such as we are discussing now, there would be no motivation for the authors to work, and that it would actually be the consumers who are missing out on the product, as there is no point for the creators to work. However, this argument is debunked, merely because of the fact that there are numerous services and products available to people for free today. Open-source projects are far from being financially unstable; in fact, many open-source projects are very financially stable –for example, Linux has a total market value of sixteen billion dollars. Other examples include GitHub, which is estimated to be worth two billion dollars, and MySQL, which is worth just short of two billion. We see that this model is far from being financially unstable and that these systems are more than capable to create profit for their creators.
What is the future of open-source programs?
It is clear that the market for open-source programs is growing, and it does not look like it will stop any time soon. In the past ten years, there has been a boom in the number of projects utilized, and many big companies like Facebook and Google rely on such programs to run their business. We also notice that companies have started their own open-source projects: Google has over 2000 projects at the moment. Whatever the future may bring, one thing is certain: in it, there will be a place for open-source software.