Why Open Source?

Ever like being locked out? Probably not.

That’s why we at Free Geek Toronto like to keep things open- especially our software. Open celebrates community, transparency and collective engagement. Open means embracing everyone and anyone.

When is software not open source?

Let’s get a bit technical- open source software is software with source code that users can inspect and change. The source code is the side of software that most of us never see- but modifying this code is how programmers change the way an application or a program work. If you know how to manipulate the source code, you can fix things you don’t like and add new features that you wish were there.

There are two sides to every story. When the source code of software can only be modified exclusively by the person, company or team that created it, we have proprietary software (sometimes called closed source software). Only one governing body has a say over the source code, so a user can’t add features or fix any problems they encounter. In order to use proprietary software, users must agree to use the software within the bounds of what the creators have permitted. Often, users must agree to the terms of a license document that pops up the first time they run the program. Think about those long ‘Terms of Use’ documents that always pop up.

With open source software, the creators make the source code available for users to modify and learn from it, while proprietary software requires users to operate under a set of rules. The Free in Free Geek stands for free as in freedom and we stand behind accessible, open software.

Advantages of Open Source Software

FLOSS is ultimately more secure for a few simple reasons: more people are able to view the source code, test it and find the bugs hidden within it. Even better, FLOSS is typically debugged almost immediately, whereas debugged versions of proprietary software generally roll out slower.
Thousands of people collaborating and improving a software’s source code results with a program that is true to what people want (they ARE the ones designing it).
Users have access to it all- no secrets, no following a vendor’s vision. You understand what you’re working with and there’s no red tape.
One of the coolest things about FLOSS is that users can add features and modify software to build their own ideas. No limits!