Everybody does not have to be a programmer to use open source software, but…

By | February 2, 2017

One of the prides of the free and open source software development model has been the ability of individuals to modify software as a result of the availability if the source code of such software. This has led to many wonderful benefits in the FOSS community.

It has reduced the development time of large and complex software projects. A good example is the android mobile operating system. Imagine how long it would have taken for different mobile device manufacturers (like Samsung, LG, SONY, Tecno, Gionee, etc) to produce individual operating systems for their different devices. But they don’t have to do that since they all run on android (open source software). Instead they’d only have to focus on hardware development and then do little modification for it to work with android – simple as that.

Another aspect of the FOSS development model is that bugs (security or operational vulnerabilities) are quickly and easily fixed because of the many code-reviewing eyes of programmers and developers.

Open source software has also necessitated the development of a variety of hardware platforms we see today. It has been deployed in in cars, writs watches, phones, drones, and many more numerous to mention.

In spite of all these aforementioned strengths, it is a perception in anti-FOSS circles that the insistence by FOSS advocates that the code of softwares be released along with the software is obnoxious and ridiculous. One reason I’ve heard for this stance is that not everybody (software users) are technically capable to modify the code of softwares. Or that most software users are just interested in using the software to carry out their required day-to-day functions and not in tinkering it. And so there’s no need to for software code to be released.

The premises are partially true in the sense that you don’t have to be a software programmer (or be interest in modifying the code of a software) to be able to use a particular piece of software, so many users of FOSS are not programmers. But the conclusion is way too wrong. How?

A very large proportion of FOSS users are technically competent to modify code – at least to some extent. With the way technology has grown, the internet of things for example, many people are beginning to see the need to be interested in knowing how software controlling their air conditioners, TV, Cooker,Refrigerators work.

To be a little pessimistic, lets even assume that it is only one person in the whole world that can modify software code. In the FOSS world, unlike in the proprietary, any modification done by him is fortunately released back to the community for the benefit of all – including those that are not supposedly “interested” in modifying software. So to take that freedom from him (by not releasing the software code) is tantamount to taking away the freedom from everybody. And most importantly open source software deposits and restricts that power to software users. If any individual is free and ale to modify the software he should; and if he is not the power should still lie with him – it is his choice. Taking that away is like saying because there are people that don’t go out on election day to cast their votes or exercise their franchise, the power to vote should be taken away from everybody and voting should be canceled all over the world. No doubt it is senseless!

Even if nobody can modify a piece of software initially, the fact that the door is open for experimentation and learning would always spur somebody to go through that door and this is something FOSS enthusiasts would always cherish!

Happy Linux’NG!

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ALEXANDER WAYNE OMOROKUNWA

ALEXANDER WAYNE OMOROKUNWA

Chief Editor/Founder at FossNaija
A Linux enthusiast with a focus on enriching the Nigeria Linux experience and keeping a keen eye on Ubuntu and other Foss related developments.
ALEXANDER WAYNE OMOROKUNWA
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