Discover Open Source Software

If your use of computer applications has generally been confined to whatever software was originally installed on your computer along with programs that you or your employer purchased from a developer, you may now be curious about open source software. People use open source software for a variety of purposes on multiple platforms to save money and to take advantage of its free development and distribution model.

Unlike the closed software system, where developers can keep their source code secret and proprietary, open source software is a method to develop software and distribute it freely.

According to the principles of open source software, anyone can access the source code and modify it for his or her own purposes, and then share these improvements and changes with the rest of the world.

Such a development model encourages collaboration between people who have a vested interest in making the software better. If one person figures out a way to make a program’s confusing or clunky interface work better for example, he can make the changes and then offer his work for others to use as well.


Open source software is often available free of charge. However, companies can sell open source software titles, as well as charge for maintenance packages and services to help people set it up and learn how to use the software. The open source software development community has created applications that can serve as free alternatives to commercial products used in areas such as business, education and the arts.

Another important benefit of open source software is the ability for faster turnaround. If you have ever grown tired of dealing with a commercial, closed software title that is missing features that would make your job easier, or if it has some nagging bugs or other problems that need to be fixed before you can take full advantage of it, you may find a better solution in the open source software arena. In the open source software community, more developers may be eager to make the improvements because they have the skills, time and interest to implement them without needing the motivation of profit to get the work done quickly.

Popular Open Source Software

The oldest open source software is BRL-CAD, a cross-platform computer-aided design application developed for the U.S. military that was released in 1983 for modelling weapons systems and which is still used today.

Since the release of BRL-CAD, developers have released a number of popular open source software titles. Among them are:


Apache OpenOffice

Apache OpenOffice is an office software suite that has six tools for common business tasks, including Writer, a word processor; Calc, a spreadsheet application; Impress, a slideshow presentation tool; Draw, an image application and Math, a program for making mathematical equations.


TurboCASH gives users an open-source solution for their accounting needs. You can use it for invoicing, reconciling bank statements, creating income statements and balance sheets and dealing with your debtors and creditors.


Joomla is an open source content management system that people use to build websites as well as online applications. It keeps track of all the content that you use in your website, including text, images, audio and video. You can use it to make your corporation’s website, a portal and an online publication. The community of Joomla users develops new extensions to enhance use of the software.


Every company needs to back up its data on a consistent basis to safeguard its information in case of a hard drive crashes, theft, natural disasters and other problems. To that end, Amanda is an open source application for backing up and restoring your data. It includes tools to filter, compress and encrypt your data.


Rather than relying on the Web browser that comes installed on your computer, you can use an open source application, such as Firefox. Developers from around the world support Firefox by creating an extensive catalog of free add-ons, enabling users to customize their Web browsing experience.


When the files on your computer are growing so numerous that you are rapidly running out of hard drive space, you can use an open source program such as 7-Zip to compress your data. Once you’ve reduced the amount of size required to store it, you can back it up more quickly to exterior media and then add more files to the disk.


The principles of the open source software movement declare that although you may not have to pay for the software, you can use it for commercial purposes. When you make a modification to open source software, you can redistribute it to let others take advantage of your efforts, just as you can benefit when other people make their improvements.

An open source software license is not allowed to discriminate against people or platforms. You cannot prevent people from using it in a certain country, for example, or prohibit a company from using it for purposes you don’t agree with.

One caveat: The open source software license does not provide a warranty that will protect your data or your computer if something goes wrong with the application. In some cases, however, you can purchase a separate warranty from a company to protect your equipment and files.

If you are looking to reduce operational costs in your organization, a good place to start is by selecting open source software applications to use in place of commercially available titles. Distribution is easy and free, and you can modify the software for own purposes. You stand to benefit from a large and enthusiastic community of users and developers, who will update and improve the software for the benefit of all.

The author works with Dell, click the following for more information on virtualizing software in the Dell cloud.

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