Sat. Jan 21st, 2023

Principles and Implications of Open Source Software

The main principles of Open Source Software are:

  • Transparency
  • Collaboration
  • Licensing

Transparency means that the code is publicly viewable. It means that no malicious code can be hidden within a product. This helps ensure that end-users have confidence in installing and using the software.

Collaboration means that potentially many thousands of users can view, alter, improve and contribute to the software. For example, a common benefit of open-source software is the relative lack of security bugs, because the underlying code is publicly visible allowing scrutiny at the code level.

Finally, the licensing model of open-source software allows users to take code and repurpose it, creating their own program from it and then distributing it.


Regarding security, it may well be that having many pairs of eyes scrutinise code helps find bugs. However, just because code is open sourced does not guarantee that an army of volunteers will look at it. Sometimes, there is no replacement for a paid team of developers who are tasked with testing code.

It can also be difficult to commercialise software based on the open-source model, when users are able to download the source code and compile it themselves. Some companies have adapted to this to become service providers rather than software providers. For instance, Red Hat is a Linux distribution, and therefore freely obtainable. The company makes its money through service and support offerings.

It is also unlikely that companies would wish for proprietary code to become open source, as this would allow competitors to see how they have implemented their code/solved problems (remember programming is just problem solving).