Open Source Software

Magnum Solutions specialises in Open Source Software. In this section we take a look at what Open Source Software is and discuss what advantages it has for your business.

What is Open Source Software?

Most software that you buy is distributed in the form of binary files. This means that the source code has already been converted into a set of instructions that your computer will understand. If you try to look at the contents of these files you’ll see that it’s impossible for a human to understand.

With Open Source Software, the software is distributed in a different format. You get the source code to the program. You then translate this source code into the computer instructions yourself.

The concept of Open Source Software is also very tightly tied in with the Free Software Movement. This means that Open Source Software is free (as in “free speech”) so that you are allowed to change it in any way to want. It is also often free in the other sense (as in “free beer”) so that typically it’s much cheaper than “closed source” software.

The Advantages Of Open Source Software

We believe that using Open Source Software gives a number of advantages over other types of software. The advantages include:

  • Cost
    Open Source Software is often distributed free. This means that the costs of software licenses can be better spent on development or support costs.
  • Support
    Most pieces of Open Source Software are supported by large numbers of volunteers. Often a question posted to a mailing list will get a response within minutes. If there is a bug in the software then a fix will often be supplied within a few hours.
  • Transparency
    Because you have access to the source code you can always find out exactly how a piece of code works. This allows you to develop your own software so it works seamlessly with whatever Open Source Software you are using. Or you can change the Open Source Software so that it integrates perfectly with your existing systems. You will no longer be tied into one company’s idea about how your system should work.
  • Security
    Open Source Software is usually developed by large teams of programmers collaberating over the Internet. This means that each line of code is seen by many people. This drastically reduces the chances of insecurities and bugs going unnoticed.

Examples of Open Source Software

The Internet largely runs on Open Source Software. Here are some examples of Open Source Software projects that you may have heard of:

  • Linux
    Linux is a complete Unix-like operating system. Strictly Linux is just the core (or “kernel”) of the project and the surrounding utilities and applications come from other sources – many of them were written as part of the GNU project.
  • Apache
    By far the most popular Web Server software on the Internet.
  • BIND
    A crucial part of the Internet is the translation of host names (like mag-sol.com) to unique numberic addresses (like 212.227.164.62). BIND is the most popular software for doing this.
  • sendmail
    Another largely hidden workhorse. Many email servers on the Internet use sendmail to route email.
  • Perl
    f you visit a web site where you can search for data, then there’s a good chance that the search facility is written in Perl. For many years Perl have been recognised as the best language for writing dynamic web sites. And it’s capable of doing so much more.
  • OpenOffice.org
    If you want a suite of office applications to do all the things that Microsoft Office can do, then take a look at OpenOffice.org.

More Information

If you’d like more information about the concepts behind Open Source Software then see the Open Source Initiative or the Free Software Foundation.

For more information on how Open Source Software can benefit your business then please contact us.

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