Whether one realizes or not, open source technology can play a key role in our everyday lives. The term ‘open source’ broadly refers to goods that are immaterial which are available to anyone, at any given point of time with no to little restrictions. The term is mostly used for software that is available for free source code.
The growth of open source and free software was eminent when software vendors began to monetize closed code, which is contrary to the early approach of computing which is open. When there is open source, anyone can use, modify and examine the software and even share with other users. Today, open source has blown way beyond what computer science students play with, and has often seen joint development of software projects by several individuals and entities around the world. Even the big software companies that would usually be viewed as competitors to open source have started contributing to open source projects. The list includes names like Oracle, Fujitsu, HPE, IBM, SUSE and Red Hat. Open source assists companies like these create projects together in an ‘open space’ that is safe.
Linux wouldn’t exist!
Linux is without doubt the most popular and substantial open source projects. The beginnings were sure humble as the inventor, Linus Torvalds was just a student but now it is a core part of the day to day lives of millions. It runs on all Android devices and operating systems in PCs and servers all across the globe. Linux also forms the base of many private and public clouds which includes Google and Amazon. A lot of HPCs (high performing computers) clusters run on Linux, which is along with 99.6% of the supercomputers of the world!
There is NO doubt open source has had a humongous impact on business, science and technology!
What if open source was not a thing? Let’s take a few minutes to imagine what life could’ve been without open source technology. To begin with, there would be no PHP, C and Python programming languages. There would be no GNU or Berkley Software Distribution. We would be living in a world of Windows or Symbian phones, where all users would see the same old interface. The whole PC operating system market would be run completely only by Windows, along with some traditional Unix vendors who share the server market. Basically, life would be so much more boring!
We would not just miss android, but Apple’s macOS and iOS that are also based on open source! Darwin, that is built on BSD, Mach Kernel and several open source projects would not exist. The whole technology ecosystem would look really very different, and well, uninteresting – like life in North Korea!
Slow if not no progress
Progress in the world of technology and all technology dependent fields would be a lot slower without open source. There would hardly be any digital transformation and this would be really difficult to cooperate with other organizations. A lot of common standards would need to be found between proprietary systems that all organizations would like to promote as many of their own standards as possible. This would lead to many more hoops to get through, unwanted compromises and long lasting negotiations.
Your day to day app wouldn’t even exist!
Without standards that are vendor neutral, there would be a severe lack of innovation when it comes to basic technologies like Cloud. Modern companies that are built on this technology like Airbnb and Uber would not even exist, atleast in the way we know them now. You may know that even Windows and Apple developers, that include Microsoft itself, rely on open source components, tools and standards in a huge way. There would certainly be lesser innovation, and software in general would be way more expensive.
In the medical field
Open source plays a big role in space exploration, science and drug development, fields where knowledge sharing is crucial. The medical profession also makes complete use of open source based systems for MRIs and computer tomography, while supercomputers make sure masses of data collected by scientists can be analyzed.
The automobile and aviation industries wouldn’t be the same
Open source technologies are used in the automobile industry. Toyota is an example that uses Automative Grade Linux in its system. This is also used by several global airlines. Several companies like BMW and Intel have collaborated with GENIVI Alliance in order to help develop such systems further.
In the age of innovation, automation and rapid digitization, sharing workload is crucial to productivity. The advantage of open source is the number of participants it can accommodate with little requirement to take part. Curiosity and internet access is all that anyone would need to get involved – and this diversity is what has made technology what it is today!