Open source is usual­ly defi­ned as a soft­ware that is released with source code. Source code is a par­ti­cu­lar pro­gramming lan­guage that allows deve­lo­pers to crea­te and edit com­pu­ter pro­grams. This source code is avail­ab­le to the gene­ral public under a licen­se that per­mits users to stu­dy, modi­fy, impro­ve and dis­tri­bu­te it.

The main thing that dif­fe­ren­tia­tes open source soft­ware from any com­mer­cial soft­ware is its licen­se. Licen­se indi­ca­tes how to use the soft­ware and whe­ther it is copy­right or not. It is uni­que in this way, becau­se it is always released under gene­ral public licen­se. Under this licen­se, cer­tain para­me­ters are requi­red, which cer­ti­fy that the soft­ware is avail­ab­le to all or not.

Accord­ing to the defi­ni­ti­on, the­se are the para­me­ters spe­ci­fic to open source software.

Free Redis­tri­bu­ti­on
Users can share the modi­fied source code deve­lo­ped from ori­gi­nal source code each time when the source code is modi­fied again and again.

Source Code
Soft­ware con­tains free source code and sharing is per­mit­ted in ori­gi­nal form, as well as its modi­fied version.

Deri­ved Works
Modi­fi­ca­ti­ons in ori­gi­nal source code have some deri­ved works to modi­fy it. Licen­se allows sharing this work to other users.

Inte­gri­ty of Author’s Source Code
Sharing of edi­ted source code can be restric­ted, if the licen­se requi­res sharing of patch files with source code at the time of modi­fy­ing it. In such cases, licen­se must be clear to share soft­ware which is deve­lo­ped from modi­fied source code with its who­le details to be known by dif­fe­rent name or ver­si­on from the original.

No Discri­mi­na­ti­on of Per­sons or Groups
Licen­se must not discri­mi­na­te any per­son or user group. Soft­ware is avail­ab­le to everyone.

No Discri­mi­na­ti­on Against Fiel­ds of Endeavor
Any type of field workers can use the soft­ware without any restriction.

Dis­tri­bu­ti­on of License
The rights to use the soft­ware are simi­lar and equal to everyone.

Licen­se Must Not Be Spe­ci­fic to a Product
Even if the ori­gi­nal source code is modi­fied, the new soft­ware still has the same licen­se terms.

Licen­se Must Not Restrict Other Software
Some users have a licen­sed ver­si­on of other soft­ware but they are not restric­ted to use this soft­ware on the same platform.

Licen­se Must Be Tech­no­lo­gy Neutral
Any part of the licen­se should not reflect on any exact tools or inter­face style.

Open source soft­ware comes with a lot of bene­fits in terms of busi­ness. Some of them are lis­ted below.

Lower Cos­ts
Soft­ware nor­mal­ly does not need any licen­se fees and its lower cost is one of the main rea­sons why small busi­ness adopts it.

A soft­ware deve­lo­per can use the stan­dard packa­ge and modi­fy it as per the busi­ness needs.

Relia­bi­li­ty and Quality

It is not fea­si­ble to say that this soft­ware is bet­ter than com­mer­cial soft­ware regar­ding relia­bi­li­ty and qua­li­ty. Howe­ver, matu­re pro­ducts are good in terms of relia­bi­li­ty and qua­li­ty. For that, you have to review some examp­les which are more matu­re, like Linux, Apa­che, Joom­la, Dru­pal, Magen­to, OsCom­mer­ce, Zen Cart, and many more.

Redu­ces Ven­dor Lock-in
Com­mer­cial soft­ware use is restric­ted becau­se of cer­tain ven­dors, and it also invol­ves con­si­derable cos­ts. Selec­ting open source soft­ware made users free of ven­dors somehow. For some pro­ducts, the­re may be a limi­ted num­ber of ven­dors that can pro­vi­de secu­ri­ty patches, upgrades or other services.

Avai­la­bi­li­ty of Exter­nal Support
Some ven­dors pro­vi­de sup­port con­tracts; ser­vice pro­vi­ders can install, con­fi­gu­re and main­tain the sys­tem. Plus, the­re usual­ly is a lar­ge online com­mu­ni­ty that sup­ports and ans­wers your questions.

Each and every pro­duct varies in terms of qua­li­ty and limi­ta­ti­ons. Below are some pos­si­ble limi­ta­ti­ons of open source software.

Lack of Per­so­na­li­zed Support
Soft­ware packa­ges don’t come with pho­ne or email sup­port like paid soft­ware. And if you want a sup­port, the over­all cost can be hig­her than com­mer­cial product.

Restric­ted Choice
The­re is much less opti­ons avail­ab­le for open source software.

Speed of Change
Soft­ware is regu­lar­ly updated in com­mu­ni­ty, which makes it dif­fi­cult to ensu­re the com­pa­ti­bi­li­ty of the soft­ware with other applications.