2 min read

Open Source Software

Open Source Software
Photo by Shahadat Rahman / Unsplash

Hey friends!

Today I'm going to tell you about open-source software, a movement which is rapidly growing in popularity and changing how people and companies create programs and apps.

What is open-source?

Most of you are probably familiar with closed-source software, in "which the software's publisher or another person reserves some licensing rights to use, modify, share modifications, or share the software, restricting user freedom with the software they lease." - Wikipedia. Some examples you may be familiar with are: the Windows operating system, Spotify, some Google software such as Google Assistant, Google maps or YouTube and the vast majority of Apple products.

On the contrary, open source software is built collaboratively, maintained by users, can be tweaked or added to by anyone and is free to use. In other words, if you spot an issue while using the program, you don't need to report it to the developers, you can fix it on your own. Some examples of open source you may be familiar with are: DuckDuckGo (a web browser), Mozilla FireFox, Google Chrome, some Oracle products (database management), Linux (an operating system) and Ghost (the platform I host my website on).

In the 50s and 60s, all programs were shipped with a copy of their own code so users could fix problems themselves. Most companies don't do that anymore, in fact many of them guard their code pretty aggressively. Despite that, quite a lot of browsers, media players and operating systems (such as Linux) are still open source.

You might think this would make the programs vulnerable to attacks but, actually, it is transparency which makes open source software so secure. Instead of blindly assuming the software you're using is safe, you can poke around and check for yourself! This is what makes it more secure than closed source.

Why is open source software so great?

The main benefit comes from the community of developers, who are usually talented, passionate people. They may be contributing for any number of reasons - it could be to improve their own skills, to pursue their hobby, or in support of a cause they really care about. Nobody is paid to contribute to open source software, ensuring a higher level of legitimacy and transparency.

For companies, the option of open source software means they benefit from a package which can be tailor-made for them, or tweaked to suit their needs, instead of having to decide between building their own software or buying a package which may not completely fit their requirements.

In summary, as long as you can code, anyone can contribute to an open source project. In fact, I am building my own (open source) plugin for the Obsidian app. You can even find the files here if you're interested!

If you want to find out more, you can also check out the Wikipedia page.

Some of my favourite things

Board game

"The Settlers of Catan" by Klaus Teuber
I was in isolation last week, and I played a LOT of Catan. The object of the game is to be the first to gather 10 victory points by building settlements and cities using resources you acquire throughout the game. It's a great strategy board game.


'BlockTheSpot' by mrpond
This is an open-source extension for the popular music streaming service Spotify, which blocks ads on the free version. Download it here!

Quote of the week

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." - Mahatma Gandhi

Credit for the information in this newsletter goes to this YouTube video.

Have a great week!
Cheers, Toby