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By LegalEdge News

Open Source 101

What is open source software?

Source code refers to the raw programming or scripting language developers and engineers write to create software. If that source code has been published under an open licence and made publicly accessible, it can be considered open source.

Usually open source software (OSS):

  • is free to use, modify and share
  • has extensive documentation on how to use it
  • is collaboratively written (and community-driven)
  • is peer-reviewed

Why is open source software so useful?

1: It accelerates technology build out.

Open source software can improve the reliability and capability of digital systems for very little cost. As open source software is free, engineers can save valuable time and resources by adopting it. 

2: There are open, collaborative communities making things better.

The most successful open source projects have active, dedicated developer communities reviewing, testing, and contributing code regularly. If somebody has a better way to solve a problem, a decentralised community of experts will test and review it before it is deployed.

3: It’s transparent.

Open source software can be investigated and taken apart by anybody.

This makes it very difficult for harmful code to be present. The project’s community subjects it to review before releasing it. A more active community leads to more reliable, better-maintained code. 

4. It’s free to use.

Most licences permit developers to use open source code anywhere, for any purpose, at any time. This freedom is the main principle behind the open source movement.

We’ve worked with Intechnica, our technology due diligence partner, on some best practice guidance to minimise these risks – check them out here. Get in touch if you want to discuss how to integrate OSS best practice into your business and ensure your team are fully aware of the implications around using OSS.

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