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Open Source Versus Commercial

Updated on July 15, 2010

All About The Open Source Initiative


In the early days of the Information Technology (IT) revolution, computers were run on the mainframe called UNIX, a free computer software system. Then, Disk Operating Systems (DOS) were introduced by software programmers such as William Gates and Steve Jobs. Gates together with Paul Allen founded Microsoft Corp. in 1975, the company that produced a 16-bit DOS, which was used to run the International Business Machines (IBM) personal computers. Jobs and co-founder Stephan Wozniak founded Apple Computer Inc. in 1976. The Mac OS operated the Macintosh computers built by Apple.

The computer companies were charging increasingly high prices for their Operating Systems (OS) and software applications; for this reason, Linus Torvald decided that UNIX should be revived and, more importantly, that it should be free. Torvald, a computer programmer from Finland, shared his vision of developing an OS for personal computers with other programmers who bought into the idea that application software should be free. This gave birth to the Open Source Initiative (OSI). Torvald was not the inventor of open source, but his zeal and determination was the driving force behind the open source movement.


Programmers started writing separate codes and then integrated these codes, which lead to the creation of the OS called LINUX. They made the command-driven LINUX available on the Internet. Torvald licensed the open source code under a General Public License (GNU or GPL) that permitted anyone, who desired, to access, download, or alter the code. Perhaps the pre-eminent open source, Linux is touted to be the driver of the open source philosophy. Linux is considered by many to be the supreme OS, it has mutated into other applications such as Ubuntu, RedHat, and Chrome. Today, there are numerous open source applications available on the Internet.


The Web browser Firefox is perhaps the most widely used open source. One reason why Firefox is gaining in popularity, especially among those in the Web design industry, is because of its user-friendly graphic interface. Firefox has an integrated anti-phishing and firewall mechanism,­ making the security issues that concern many Internet users practically negligible, another reason why Firefox is so popular.

OpenOffice is an open source office suit that offers the same features as Microsoft Office, such as a word processor and spreadsheet. Notepad is a free text editor that provides users the same features as commercial text editors and is popular among computer programmers for writing programming and scripting languages such as Java and HTML. Mozilla Thunderbird is an open source email client that has all the options to meet every e-communication requirement, including an address book, themes, and spam filters.

GIMP is an open source image-editing package that offers most of the functionality that Adobe PhotoShop offers. GIMP also has one of the largest online support communities of all the open source projects. DVD Flick is a simple and easy to use DVD authoring tool with powerful image and photo-editing features that has made it quite popular among beginner videographers. More recently, the open source image-editing program, Pixlr, has been developed and can be downloaded and run on the destktop. This program is relatively new and is still being enhanced; for this reason many users choose to run Pixlr on the Web browser in order to make use of the new tools that are regularly being added.

NVU is a free Web design application that many Web developers consider a good alternative to Adobe Dreamweaver. Miro is an open source video player and podcast client. There are numerous sites on the Internet that give computer users free access to television shows; however, Miro is one of the more popular, in part, because it converts the personal computer into a television where users can view thousand of channels from numerous countries in multiple languages. The VLC Media Player is another multimedia source that allows users to download and play videos from the Internet. The number of open source anti-virus programs available is far too many to enumerate here, but suffice it to say, “no one needs to be paying for virus scanners today.”


Most open source is as good as its commercial counterparts. There are chat rooms and discussion forums where beginner users can get advice about the functionality of the open source applications. Open source software can best be described as the networking of ideas and information, rather than merely the sharing of computer programs. The very diverse group of programmers from all corners of the globe is what makes the Open Source Initiative so innovative and adaptable to the needs of the masses.


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    • ProjectsConsult profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from World Wide Web

      technibz, thanks for taking the time to read my hub. I too love open source and commercial applications are not only overrated, but are also over priced.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I am also a huge fan of open source!!My laptop is filled with them. I love Gimp and Blender. Their commercial counterpart is way overrated.

    • ProjectsConsult profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from World Wide Web


      Thanks for taking the time to read my hub.


    • Jezhug profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      Awesome hub. The open source movement is really taking off.


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