Open source software is a boon for students from India who can rarely afford to pay for the high cost of copyrighted software and operating systems that need to be updated every few years. What is open source software you may ask? Well, the idea is firmly rooted in information copyright. Open source software is written by programmers who make their code and their program available for others to read and to build upon. It’s a collaborative effort and an easy comparison can be made with Wikipedia. With Wikipedia, which uses the Creative Commons license like open source software, writers from all over the world write the content for free for others to read and rewrite. Similarly, when working on a program, people collaborate to make different parts of the software and to test it. The final program is then available for anyone on the Internet to download on their computers and to use, for free.
The idea behind open source software began as a reaction to copyrights by companies such as Windows and Macintosh, which charge large sums for people to use their operating systems and programs. Open source programmers believe that everyone should have access to these tools, especially in developing countries where people often cannot afford to pay the high cost of proprietary software.
Some of the common objections to open source software are:
1. “Can it be that good if it’s free?”
Yes, it can! Open source is more reliable than propriety software, faster to use and quite simple too. It’s designed so that anyone can use it; so, it’s not just for techies.
2. “You need to have specialised computer knowledge (be a geek) to use open source software.”
Think of popular programs built on open source that you may have already used; such as Mozilla’s Firefox browser or blogging platform WordPress. Other programs are just as simple to use, from operating systems like Ubuntu to photo editing software like Gimp.
Popular Open Source Software
Ubuntu is an open source operating software that is fast and has automatic security updates. It’s compatible with all computers, and manufactures such as Dell and Lenovo are pre-installing it in their computers. It supports Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Office and Skype. The moment you plug in your camera or mp3 player, you can immediately access it. There’s no need to install any software. It has its own music store, Rythmbox, which helps you to buy, browse and find your favourite artists.
Ubuntu is full of free apps to help you manage, edit and share your photos and videos with the world, and just like android, it offers thousands of apps to choose from.
Volume 2 Issue 3