When it comes to technology and software development these days, you often hear the term “Open-Source” or “FOSS”.
These terms are closely linked with the Linux kernel and its various distributions -Ubuntu, Fedora, OpenSUSE, etc. What these terms mean is the fact that whatever application attached to these terms has been released by the developers for free; inclusive of the source code. This means that you should be able to download the full code for free, make changes that you need to and use it. The caveat is that you essentially need to also revert such changes back to the developer for his / her benefit and the benefit of the community. Perhaps such changes are not necessary for anyone except yourself. But all in all, it depends on the developer and these are covered legally by licenses under GPL and various other institutions.
I won’t go too much into detail, because mostly I have not read the licenses completely and I don’t really understand how something “completely free” can also be sustainable for a serious developer. I honestly don’t know how FOSS would be better for a developer. It seems to benefit the end users more. So that is why I am going to talk about is from a user’s perspective.
Everyone likes free stuff. Paying nothing for something is a serious benefit. Additionally, in this computer / internet age of ours’, technology run the world; or rather, software runs the world. So essentially from a user perspective, FOSS should be embraced as a gift from Heaven. Free software. Who doesn’t love getting free stuff?
So if free stuff is great for users, you would think that it should be the most popular right? Linux and its distros should be the most popular systems. But it isn’t the case… What is the most popular operating and system?… Windows. What is the most popular software being used?… MS Office and other proprietary software…
Now I’m referring to workstations and personal computers. On the server side, Linux has the market. So this should keep the fanboys happy.
So why aren’t FOSS apps as popular as proprietary ones?… The videos below should answer it.
FOSS is mostly developed by enthusiasts and hobbyists in a sense as a community. So if something you see has been created, it has been done because someone had a bright idea and a passion to develop it. There are developers on the FOSS side who are absolute legends like Eric S. Raymond and Linus Torvalds. I’m sure you know who they are..
But for the most part, if you require a feature, in FOSS, you need to be able to create it yourself or hope that there is enough demand for it within the community.
This is essentially my issue with FOSS and running a FOSS system as my daily.. I’ve been thinking of moving from MacOS to FreeBSD as of late; mostly because I want a system that looks like Tony Stark’s in IronMan part one.
I would easily have moved and I think that I would get the aesthetics just right running FreeBSD with KDE desktop. However I’m sure that I would easily loose some of the capabilities with MacOS.. I would loose the usage of my Bastron Glass Keyboard and Kensington trackball. I would also loose the ability to run apps like Final Cut and Adobe Suite.
If you are a simple user who needs a browser and a basic office suite, then I would suggest a FOSS system. It would be a great system and you would not be sorry. Being free.. it would be worth it as long as you do not loose any functionality in the process.
That is the thing to watch out for… FOSS is worth it as long as you are able to do what you need to and complete your work. That’s my take on FOSS…