What is open source software (OSS)?
Software is a word we use to describe a collection of compiled code that performs or automates tasks. Developers work with code to manipulate and create software. In open source software, source code is available to the public to be shared and manipulated. People work together on an open source software to view, copy, alter, and learn from code that multiple people have worked on.
Open source software, or OSS, is a computer software with source code that can be modified; this also includes a license that allows programmers to make any changes to the software, whether it be identifying and resolving bugs or improving functions.
On the other hand, closed source software, or proprietary software, is not shared with the public. This source code requires permission to be accessed. This is common among businesses that want full security of their product and control over their brand.
Open Source Licensing
A software license is necessary because it allows the use and/or redistribution of the software. Without it, you run the risk of breaking copyright laws when using the software. Each license is specific to the software. Open source licenses allow developers to use software with the understanding that, due to the nature of open source, the code will likely be altered. These licenses tend to vary. Some common licenses include:
- Apache License 2.0
- MIT License
- Mozilla Public License 2.0
- Common Development and Distribution License
- Eclipse Public License
Why contribute to open source software?
Many developers get their start by contributing to open source projects. The more effort that goes into an open source project, the more knowledge developers acquire. It allows developers to gain valuable experience and deliver code samples in a peer-reviewed environment that they can use for future development careers.
Open source projects encourage the unhindered exchange of information in order to solve problems. With the independence granted by OSS, developers are able to accomplish goals in whatever language they choose. Developers also have the ability to take a piece of open source software and branch off in order to work on it as they wish, essentially as a new owner.
Those contributing to an open source project work towards a common goal. OSS can be seen as a competition between the best ideas to reach a solution, an attempt at meritocracy. However, for meritocracy to succeed, all ideas must be considered, hence the reason why you should contribute.
Start contributing to open source projects
People choose to contribute to open source projects for a number of reasons, whether they want to learn a new language or to fix a bug in a particular software. Choose a project that you’re interested in. Here are some resources to help you get started:
OSS is a great way to break into tech development as well as brush up on any coding skills. Each step in the project contributes to your experience as a developer and allows you to network within a community that shares a common interest. Even our developers started with open source projects or used the software to learn a new technique. Now, they are well-versed in a variety of frameworks including Drupal and WordPress. Start collaborating and learning today!