What is an Open Source Software?

Open source software (OSS) is distributed under a licensing agreement which allows computer code to be shared, viewed and modified by other users and organizations.

In other words, open source software is available for everyone and they can use as well as modify them accordingly. A Software of this kind can evolve and be iterated upon by other developers anywhere in the world. We can draw an analogy over here while comparing open source software with the evolution of human beings. Just like human beings which showed drastic change as the time passed by, same is the case with open source software.

On paper, it looks good, as far as the “evolving” aspect of the open-source software is concerned. But it also has a darker side attached to it.

It delves into the idea of the open web and the principles of self-governance that drive the ethos of open source software. Whilst an open and peer to peer-oriented web is to be applauded philosophically, it can leave us vulnerable to rogue developers who choose to break things for their own benefit. Hence the need for a warning label. Perhaps the best example of Open Source Software is Android Operating System.


What is a Commercial Software?

Commercial software can be defined as proprietary software distributed under a licensing agreement to authorized users with private modification, copying, and republishing restrictions. It is also termed as a “closed source software” and we are going to use both these terms quite interchangeably.

In a technical context, the source code is not shared with the public for anyone to look at or change. 

Closed source is actually the sort of arrangement that you would expect from most businesses, protective of their product and keen to maintain control over their brand and the user experience offered to their customers.

So, when considering the open source or closed source (proprietary) software, what are some of the key differences to take into account before making a decision? We’re going to take a look at service/support, innovation, usability and security in both open source and closed source software and outline the pros and cons of both software systems. 



Key differences between Open Source and Commercial Software

The key differences between Open Source and Commercial software will be based on the following parameters-

  1. Cost
  2. Service
  3. Innovation
  4. Security

Cost – Generally, closed source software tends to have some type of cost for the software. Closed source’s pricing model includes the right to use the software, whether it be as an upfront cost or subscription. Open source, on the other hand, doesn’t have a cost associated with the core functionality. It can, however, have costs for additional features, assistance, or added functionality. Based on these factors, both closed and open source are on equal grounds. Closed source has a high cost associated with the software, whereas open source has little to no cost associated with the software but has costs associated with additional features

Service –  As a user, one generally expects the operating system to be simple to use and easy to comprehend. Here, the service factor comes into the picture. Open source software scores over commercial software in this parameter, as the service is ongoing and real-time with modifications and changes easily possible.

Innovation – Open source software provides a large amount of flexibility and freedom to change the software without restriction. This innovation, however, may not be passed on to all users and it is debated whether customized changes to the original source code can limit the future support and growth of the software. Once more, open source software providers often struggle to attract large-scale research and development.

Security – Security of open source is often a concern for large companies because the software is not always developed in a controlled environment. With individual users all around the world developing the software, there is a lack of continuity and common direction that prevents effective communication. Commercial software is generally seen as more secure because it is developed in a controlled environment by a concentrated team with a common direction.


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