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Open source software: use or not use?

How good is it to freely create, experiment, and transform code? Open source software (OSS) provides users with a free to use, study, modify and distribute source code.

In today's post, you will find some of the advantages and disadvantages of using OSS.

We will also show how to use OSS security and a list of best practices to minimize and manage risk.

What is Open Source Software?

First things first! What is OSS? Making source code freely available and accessible to programmers originated in 1983, a movement founded by Richard Stallman.

This ideology led to the creation of the Open Source Initiative corporation in 1998. The foundation then introduced an approach based on collaborative improvement and source code sharing.

The freedom of OSS has led to excellent benefits like flexibility and stability. However, as in other types of software, it sometimes is accompanied by security risks.

Some argue that security is an advantage of OSS. Others state that it is a drawback. Let's explore the pros and cons of working with this type of software.

Advantages of OSS

While close source software keeps its properties a secret, Open Source Software sets the source code available for everybody.

Furthermore, generally, OSS is free to use. This advantage helps reduce effective costs.

Because it's available for everyone, it also enables programmers to work on projects created by different teams, companies, and organizations.

Therefore, control is one of the advantages of OSS. It allows to examine and explore code to ensure that the software is doing what it's supposed to. It also permits changing parts that are not correct.

Another important characteristic of Open Source Software is that it is flexible.

Developers can examine how the code works and freely change dysfunctional or problematic aspects of the application.

Open source software distinguishes itself from proprietary software by its stability.

Because the source code is in public distribution, users relying on that software for critical tasks know that their tools won't disappear or fall into disrepair.


One of the weaknesses of Open source is that it can be hard to use and adopt. It's hard to set it up and lacks friendly user interfaces.

Open source can also pose compatibility issues. Some applications cannot support both Open Source and proprietary software and might need third-party drivers.

Open Source security

This characteristic is the subject of much discussion. And that is because some argue that security is an issue on Open Source. Others believe that it is an advantage.

Many advocate that OSS code vulnerabilities create opportunities for malicious actors to manipulate the code.

However, it's also considered by many as a great advantage. That is because it facilitates the identification of new vulnerabilities, as is generally available for open source components.

Other developers, working in the same company or not, can review, fix, and update the code. The faster the code review, the more secure and reliable the software is.

Best practices

As we know, OSS has risks. But there are several steps you can take to avoid or minimize them.

According to Microsoft, to avoid security vulnerabilities, you should inventory OSS, perform security analysis, keep open source up to date and align security response processes.

When utilizing OSS or acquiring codebases with OSS, make sure that you and your company understand what is in their code to be effectively managed and secured.

Keep reading Zalox articles to stay abreast of the latest in the world of technology.

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