Open Source Software: Strengths and Weaknesses

Open Source Software: Strengths and Weaknesses

Zippy Erlich (The Open University of Israel, Israel) and Reuven Aviv (The Open University of Israel, Israel)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-060-8.ch005
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Abstract

The philosophy underlying open source software (OSS) is enabling programmers to freely access the software source by distributing the software source code, thus allowing them to use the software for any purpose, to adapt and modify it, and redistribute the original or the modified source for further use, modification, and redistribution. The modifications, which include fixing bugs and improving the source, evolve the software. This evolutionary process can produce better software than the traditional proprietary software, in which the source is open only to a very few programmers and is closed to everybody else who blindly use it but cannot change or modify it. The idea of open source software arose about 20 years ago and in recent years is breaking out into the educational, commercial, and governmental world. It offers many opportunities when implemented appropriately. The chapter will present a detailed definition of open source software, its philosophy, its operating principles and rules, and its strengths and weaknesses in comparison to proprietary software. A better understanding of the philosophy underlying open source software will motivate programmers to utilize the opportunities it offers and implement it appropriately.

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