Programs, including operating systems and applications, are created using programming code. Programmers write the source code, which is then compiled into executable code, creating the product that you ultimately run on your computer. There are many operating systems for personal use, for business and industrial contexts, and some of them are closed source, and some are open source. In general, an open-source system is one in which the source code is visible to the user, while in open systems, the code cannot be seen.
The principle of an open-source program is that, as a user, you have the right to access the source code. If you are using a closed source system, you do not have access, even if you have purchased it with a commercial license. In addition to being able to see how a program has been implemented, many open source licenses allow you to improve and redistribute the program. However, this often depends on the type of license you use.
Having access to the source code is not the only difference between open source and closed source systems. While closed source operating systems are typically developed by corporations and modified only by organization personnel, open-source systems tend to be developed by large communities. Because open-source programs have visible code, users and consumers of the program can identify bugs and even fix them. For this reason, open-source systems tend to be improved more regularly than closed source ones.
There are many closed source systems in use. The Microsoft Windows and Apple OS X operating systems are closed source, and both platforms provide programs for a variety of computing contexts, including personal, server, and mobile. The most widely used operating systems for personal computers, particularly for desktop PCs, tend to be closed source, although open source alternatives are on the rise.
There is a variety of open-source operating systems for desktop, server, and mobile devices. Although most PCs run on closed source systems, many Web servers run on open source platforms, particularly Linux, which became the most common open-source system in 2011. The rise of computers Mobile has also caused an increase in open-source operating systems, including Ubuntu Linux and Google’s Android and Chrome systems.
In addition to the fundamentally different principles involved when choosing an open or closed source operating system, there are some major differences between the systems available to users. Although Linux systems are free, many users are not comfortable using them since they can be more difficult for those who are not experts. However, with mobile computers, the use of open-source platforms is exposing these technologies to new users.