We often don't realize but open-source projects play a huge role in our life. Today, in this article, I am going to talk about how we use open-source technologies in our everyday life and what would happen if they didn't exist 😱.
Let us start with some open-source technologies we use in our daily life -
Many of us have phones running the Android Operating System. Android by itself is an open-source project maintained by Google. The base version of android is popularly referred to as Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Now, what do I mean by the base version of android? Well most of us aren't running pure AOSP on our phones as companies put on their proprietary code on top of AOSP. In fact Google Play Services is closed-source. You can use AOSP without Google Play Services but then you are going to miss out on Google Services and will face weird issues if you do so. Many third-party apps will also have trouble working as many of them rely on Google APIs like the Google Maps API.
Most people use some chromium-based browser, be it Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Vivaldi, Brave, or even Opera. Chromium by itself is an open-source project. Now, to be fair, none of the aforementioned browsers are open-source (with the exception of Brave). This is usually done to pack more proprietary features. For example, Google Chrome comes with a suite of Google features like syncing across different devices. These browsers are a chromium fork with more features, different themes, better integration with operating systems, and more optimization. It is a lot like how Android works.
Visual Studio Code
Visual Studio Code is an extremely popular code editor and it is open source. You can take a look at the source code on GitHub. There is a small caveat, the version of Visual Studio Code distributed by Microsoft does have telemetry which the open-source version doesn't. You can download VSCodium which has binaries built from the source code on GitHub but you might face issues.
Most applications depend on some open-source project, be it a web framework like React or some other package. In fact, all programming languages are open-source (at least I have never heard of a closed-source programming language).
Advantages of Open Source
You will have a great community built around your project that will trust your project. Many people are open-source enthusiasts and will try their best to use open-source software. These people will be your users if the application fulfills their needs!!!
When an application is open-source, open-source contributors get a chance to contribute to your project. Any contribution is extremely valuable as it usually fixes a problem. There will be spam but that is just part of the game.
Contributing to open-source is something that gives not only beginners but also advanced developers something to work on and learn from contributing. You, as the developer of the project, will also learn a lot from the community of developers who find something not right with your project.
We all make mistakes and there will be loopholes or bugs in your code. Other contributors will not only let you know about the issue but also help you in fixing the problem or even fix the problem themselves.
If one encounters a problem in an open-source project, one can look at the source code and better understand the cause of the problem. This will help resolve the bug more quickly making it a win-win situation for you, as the developer and the user.
Contributing to open-source is something of great importance in your portfolio. It is a great starting point that will help you later on.
What would happen if open-source didn't exist
Now that we have seen examples of open-source in our day-to-day life and have seen the advantages, let us discuss what would happen if everything would be proprietary.
It wouldn't be good for developers
Developers usually rely on programming languages, libraries, and frameworks when developing an application. If these were not open-source, developers would fear that they might be shipping applications with trackers which they didn't intend to add. This would also mean that there would be lesser flexibility. When something is open-source, there is a great community making tutorials, understanding how a framework works, working on making it better, and making plugins for it.
Wouldn't be good for beginners
Beginners learn a lot from contributing to open-source. If this opportunity was to be taken away from their learning path, they would lose a lot. From my personal experience, I can say that I have learned a lot by contributing to others' projects on GitHub. Even seeing and understanding the source code of an application and how it works teaches one a lot.
Tinkerers wouldn't be happy
Many people don't want a company to decide what is best for them. They want to customize their things as much as they can to fit their needs and likings. This makes one more comfortable and gives people options.
As things would become closed-source, corporations would try to make the most out of it by pricing their products high. Due to many things being open-source, the community has developed many open-source alternatives which may better suit a person. Not only are open-source projects usually free or cheap but also they are better when it comes to privacy.
This takes us to privacy. Closed-source applications are known to have trackers which is a direct invasion of privacy. Open-source applications usually don't have such trackers. If someone is concerned about their privacy, they can even self-host an application they want to use.
Other than these, closed-source applications would take away the advantages open-source applications tend to have (as mentioned above).
I hope you have found this article helpful in understanding the importance of open-source in our everyday life. Feel free to leave a comment down below if you have a doubt and you can reach out to me on Twitter as well. I am also going to write a lot about open-source this month so keep an eye on my blog or follow me so you are notified whenever I release a new post.