Open source software and free software have become major issues in the Internet world as technology continues to advance. The two terms have led to different movements for software developers. If you’re confused about the difference in the two types of software, here is some information on both.
Open source software means the source code to the software is freely available for anyone to inspect or study with no monetary or other requirement. A source code generally refers to the original version of the software as written by a person in alphanumeric symbols. It can be written in any of the thousands of programming languages but the three most common languages are Java, C, and C++. In other words, the source code is all the letters, numbers, and symbols that you see when you open software files on your computer. Source code is essential to improving, understanding, and modifying any software program.
Free software means the software is available to anybody who wants to use, change, duplicate, study, inspect, or redistribute the software. The term free has nothing to do with the price of the software, only with the fact that users can do more with free software. You have no monetary or other restrictions when using free software. Basically, all open source software is free software. However, all free software is not open source software because you can only study and inspect the source code for open source software meaning that you don’t have as much freedom with open source as you do with free software.
Many believe that the two terms are actually interchangeable and that the main difference is more of a philosophical difference than a tangible difference. The philosophy behind free software is that it’s open to everyone without restriction; supporters of free software believe that allowing users to do whatever they like with the source code forms a kind of social solidarity that’s lost with open source software. The difference in the two terms can also be attributed to how developers have marketed their software.
Until recently, the development of open source software was very hectic and unstructured, but software developers have started communicating and coordinating better with each other to make improvements on open source software like Mozilla Firefox, Android, and Google Chromium. The term “open source” was coined in 1998 when developers of free software broke off from the crowd and tried to rename free software but instead created a new movement with a different philosophy regarding essential freedoms than those still supporting free software. Originally the term was meant to make it easier for people to understand what free software meant. Open source software and those who support it have come under fire because other users believe it’s wrong to restrict anyone’s use of the software source codes.
You can download 7zip, a commonly known open source software program archive for digital files originally developed for use with Microsoft programs, and other open source and free software like it online for free.