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What is OSS (Open Source Software)? Advantages and precautions when using

Open Source Software

OSS is free software that allows you to freely modify or redistribute the source code.
Well-known OSSs include Java, PHP, and Python.
In recent years, IT vendors have often participated, and OSS plays an important role in software development.
This time, we will introduce the basic knowledge and attractiveness of OSS, and the merits of using it.

table of contents

  • 1. What is open source software (OSS)?
  • 2. The appeal of OSS and why it spreads
  • 3. Benefits of using OSS
  • 4. Precautions when using OSS
  • 5. The appeal of OSS is its high reliability and versatility.




What is Open Source Software (OSS)?

Open Source Software is an abbreviation for OSS. Software whose source code is open to the public free of charge and whose use, modification, and redistribution are freely permitted.

Contrary to OSS, software that has restricted access to or modified source code is called “proprietary software.” Generally, software source code is intellectual property, so it is sold with a license fee. Most commercial software is proprietary software and the source code cannot be modified.

Typical OSSs include Linux as an operating system, MySQL as a database management system, Java as a programming language, Perl, PHP, Python, and Firefox as a web browser, and are widely used in various fields.
Although OSS is free of charge, many are known to have high performance and high reliability, and companies often develop based on OSS for commercial use. In particular, OSS is indispensable for developers because there is much excellent software in the fields of programming languages ​​and development environments.

The appeal of OSS and why it spreads

Why is OSS so widely used in a wide variety of fields? I will explain the charm of OSS.


● OSI license document

OSS is free software, but it is not without terms and conditions. The Open Source Initiative (OSI), a non-profit organization that certifies OSS, manages OSS licenses. Whether the software is OSS depends on whether the license (Terms of Use) meets the “The Open Source Definition”. Once the license is approved by OSI, the software is officially recognized as open source and bears the “OSI Certification Mark”.


● OSS definition (10 items)

The OSS definition has the following 10 items. Software with a license that complies with these is certified as OSS.

  1. 1. Freely allow redistribution
    2. Distribute the source code free of charge
    3. Allow distribution of derivative software
    4. 4. Make it clear which part of the source code is the author’s original code (the integrity of the author’s code)
    . Do not discriminate against individuals or groups
    6. Do not discriminate against the field of use
    7. The rights associated with the program shall be equally granted to all redistributors (license distribution)
    8. Do not license only for specific products
    9. Do not license to limit other software
    10. License is technically neutral
  • Reference


● Reasons for the spread of OSS

OSS has the feature that anyone can freely improve and redistribute. As a result, users around the world cycle through the process of finding, improving, and fixing bugs in the source code. As a result, the stability of the software and the ability to develop high-quality products at a low cost are the reasons why OSS is widespread.
In this way, the idea of ​​advancing development while disclosing product content and information is called the “open source movement.”


Benefits of using OSS

Not only is it free of charge, but there are other benefits to using OSS. Here, we will introduce the advantages of using OSS as a user.


● Reliable

Since the source code is open to the public, it is reliable because it is possible to constantly check for malicious programs and vulnerabilities. Even if a vulnerability is discovered, it is characterized by quick correction.


● High stability

Proprietary software may be terminated or discontinued due to the circumstances of the provider. However, OSS can continue maintenance as long as there are users. Therefore, stable use can be expected for a long period.


● Cost reduction is possible

Since OSS is free of charge, you can expect integrated cost reduction. Not only the initial cost but also the license management after an introduction and the regular replacement cost can be reduced, so it will be useful in software development.


Precautions when using OSS

I will explain the knowledge that you should know when dealing with OSS.


● Must be license compliant

When introducing OSS, it is important to confirm the target license type. OSS is licensed individually for each software. Users are required to use the license in compliance with the license, so be sure to check the OSS license before using it.
In a word, there are various types of licenses, and it is said that there are more than 70 types. For example, when redistributing the software, it depends on the software, such as whether to require the release of the source code and whether to indicate that the source code has been changed. Some licenses limit the purpose of use in the form of “free for research purposes and paid for commercial use”. Therefore, it is important to understand the contents before use.


● Not “free = OSS”

OSS is released free of charge, but not all software available for free is OSS, unless specifically stated as “OSS”. If it is not OSS, you cannot freely modify or redistribute it even if it is free of charge, so be careful when using it.


● Derivatives are also OSS

Derivative works that have been improved and redistributed from OSS are called “derivatives”. Among the OSS license types, the one that requires special attention is the license called “copyleft type”. Copyleft is a term that expresses the idea that “copyleft should be available to everyone, including secondary works while retaining copyright.” GPL, LGPL, CPL, etc. are known as typical copyleft licenses.
The copyleft OSS license states that “improved and redistributed derivatives must be distributed under the same conditions as the original work.” For example, if a developer improves his software based on OSS, he is not free to change to other licenses or terms. In addition, if you modify an OSS that has a copyleft license, you are obliged to publish the source code.


High reliability and versatility are the appeals of OSS

OSS has been developed with high quality and excellent reliability and stability because it can be used secondarily by anyone, and is used by many people.
Another advantage of OSS is that it can be freely customized according to your company’s services and is more versatile than existing software.
In recent years, companies have also developed their products based on commercially available OSS.
OSS is indispensable for software development. When using OSS, make sure you understand the license form and contents before using it well.


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