What Is Open Source Software and How Does It Work?

  • By Aashruti Bhadoria
  • 28 March 2023
Open Source Software Guide

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Originally, the term "open source" referred to a particular approach to developing computer software. However, today it encompasses a wider range of values and is known as "the open source way." This way of thinking and collaborating within the open-source community is based on principles such as transparency, collaboration, inclusion, and community. 

The Open Source and Open Standards course is a sub-topic of the B.Tech degree in Computer Science Engineering. This B.Tech course involves working with open-source software tools that blend theory and practical applications. In this article, we will define the open source, explore the meaning of source software, and expand on how open source programs work. 

Introduction to Open Source Software: What is Open Source Software?

Open-source software is computer software that is available to everyone for any purpose, including use, study, modification, and distribution. The software includes its source code, which can be viewed, edited, and improved upon by users. Developers who have access to the source code can make modifications to the software by introducing new features, making alterations, or resolving issues.

The open source definition requires that the software license is free of charge, and anyone can redistribute it without any restrictions. Additionally, the source code must be available for modification and improvement, and any improved versions can carry a different name or version. The software can also be ported to different operating systems. 

Explain Open Source Software with Examples 

Numerous examples of open source software are available online, with many popular applications allowing user modifications and improvements. Several examples of open source software in different categories include the following:  

  • Operating Systems (e.g. Linux, Android, ReactOS), 
  • Web Servers (e.g. Apache HTTP Server, Apache Tomcat, Lighttpd, Node.js), 
  • Database Systems (e.g. MySQL, SQLite, Apache Hive, Maria DB), 
  • Mobile Development Frameworks (e.g. Ionic, React Native, Flutter, Xamarian), 
  • QA Automation tools (e.g. Selenium, Watir), 
  • Office Software Suites (e.g. Apache OpenOffice, Libre Office), and 
  • Content Management Systems (e.g. WordPress, Django).

(Also Read: Top New Technology Trends)

Open Source Software: How Does it Work? 

Open-source software is made available in a public repository, allowing anyone to access and work on the source code. However, there is usually a distribution license that outlines how people can interact with, modify, and share the software. 

When changes are made to the source code, the software should indicate what modifications were made and how they were done. The software resulting from open-source development may or may not be obligated to be free, depending on the license. Although the majority of open-source software is available for free, some may come with an initial cost or recurring subscription fees.

Benefits of Open Source Software

  • Flexibility: Users have the ability to modify the software according to their requirements, adding or removing features as necessary.
  • Stability: Even if the original developers of the software stop maintaining it, the open source community will continue to support it, ensuring long-term use for users.
  • Security and Reliability: Multiple developers and contributors working on the software improve its security and reliability.
  • Ease of Evaluation: Users can easily access and view the source code, which enables them to understand the software's capabilities and identify any issues or bugs.
  • Better Support: Due to the involvement of numerous developers, companies, and users, technical support is readily available.
  • Cost Savings: Open source software is often less expensive compared to proprietary software, making it more accessible to users.

B.Tech Program to Study Open Source Software 

The B.Tech degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering, which focuses on Open Source and Open Standards, covers fundamental computer science topics such as 

  • Algorithms, 
  • Data Structures, 
  • Android Development, 
  • Object-oriented Programming, 
  • Database Management Systems, and
  • Linux Administration.

This B.Tech program also provides students with knowledge about open-source software, open standards, open-source communities, and open-source development methodology.


Some best-paying jobs in technology may mandate candidates to hold prior experience in working with open source software. Depending on the profession, proficiency in using specific software may be necessary. Familiarising oneself with diverse software can enhance one's resume and make them more appealing to potential employers.

Sunstone, a prominent higher education service provider across India, offers high-quality career enhancement courses with placement assistance for those who wish to broaden their skill sets and job prospects. Registering with Sunstone can help individuals explore new opportunities.

FAQ - What is Open Source Software

What is the most popular open source software?

There are many open-source software programs available, and the list is constantly growing as more developers contribute to open-source projects. Some well-known examples of open-source software include Mozilla Firefox, VLC Media Player, Linux, WordPress, and Android.

How does open source software make money?

Open-source software vendors often generate most of their revenue through support and services. Users of open-source software frequently require help with setup, configuration, and troubleshooting, which these companies provide for a fee.

What is the difference between open source software and closed source software?

Closed source software, also known as proprietary software, does not make its source code available to the public, and therefore users are unable to view or modify it. In contrast, open-source software provides public access to the source code, allowing programmers to read and modify it if they choose.

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