Year 10 Computer Science – Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns : Open Source and Proprietary Software #1

Starter : Retrieval Practice

Describe a full back-up.

A full back up is where a copy is taken of every file on the system.

Describe an incremental back-up.

Only the files created or edited from the last back up are copied.

Explain the role of the compression utility.

The role of the compression utility is to reduce the size of files so that they take up less disk space, this can allow files to be downloaded /uploaded quicker on the internet.

Today’s learning: Open Source Software

Covered in Paper 1 of the computer science paper is the topic which covers ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns associated with computing. Within this is the need to understand the role and advantages and disadvantages of open source and proprietary software. In essence, it is important for a business to consider when to choose open source and when to choose proprietary software. Here is great video to give us an introduction to the topic.

In today’s blog we will be looking specifically at open source software …..

Open Source Software

Software is made up of code. With open source software this code is available to the public. The people who create open source software are often more interested in ‘ the greater good’ than making money from their software. Open source software means that the ‘source code’ (the code use to create the software) is made freely available. Users may legally modify this source code, often developing this to create their own version of the software.

Licences have been created to support the distribution of open source . For example the GNU General Public Licence. A summary is shown below:

You may copy, distribute and modify the software as long as you track changes/dates in source files. Any modifications to or software including (via compiler) GPL-licensed code must also be made available under the GPL along with build & install instructions.

So if you modify the source code then that version also has to be made available under the GNU licence.

There are many well known examples of open source software such as Linux, Open Office, Java, Mozilla Firefox. Linux in particular has been hugely successful. This is an operating system that has been developed and shared over a number of years. One of the most well known examples of Linux based software is Android.

Open source software is often supported by a strong online community. These are normally on-line forums of users sharing ideas and solving problems. Community members actively help to improve software and also suggest ‘bug’ fixes and improvements to the original software.

There are advantages and disadvantages of open source software that you need to be aware of .

Questions based on today’s learning … have a go before you hit the drop down box for the answer!

Open source software means.

The source code is made freely available to users/developers.

Can open source software be modified.

Yes, open source software is released under an ‘open source licence’ which means can be freely modified.

Give two advantages of open source software .

Any two from:

Open Source software is usually free.

It’s made for the ‘greater good’, not profit. People share ideas and collaborate.

Can be more innovative than if it was created within one company.

Users can adapt the software to fit their specific needs.

Popular open source software can be very reliable and secure as there is a large community to solve any problems.

Give two disadvantages of open source software.

Any two from:

Open source software which is not widely used may not get regular updates as there will be less of a community to do this.

If not updated regularly then the software could be ‘buggy’ and have security holes.

Customer support and user documentation can be limited especially if the software is not well known.

No warranty if something goes wrong.

Companies using open source software code to make custom software may mot want competitors to see their source code, but they have no choice.

Want to know more open source software:

Test yourself !