Curious about open-source software? Milad Hajihassan, MMC’s Embedded Systems Designer, is here to answer your questions in this edition of #AskAnExpert.

A coder in front of three monitors

What’s the difference between open-source and closed-sourced software? 

Open-source software is a software which the source is open for general public to access and use, so you can modify and reproduce it yourself legally. On the other hand, closed-source software is a software which source code is closed to the general public and the source code can be accessed only under a licensing agreement to authorized users – think of your consumer electronics like smartphones or video games. The open-source license indicates how the software can be used and if there are any limitations. 

Is open-source software safe? 

Open-source software is safe as long as it’s obtained from a reliable source and it’s used according to the open-source software license. Open-source software even has the potential to be more secure than closed-source software. However, a source code that is more frequently used could have increased risks and vulnerabilities. 

Why do people make open-source software? How are they benefiting from it?  

Open-source licensing encourages innovation through collaboration in the community. You can benefit from it by learning and improving your coding skills, and also creating a software that can help others at the same time. 

I’m interested in getting into coding. Where should I get started? 

You want to start with basics and first learn about main coding concepts by reading books, watching online lessons available on online learning platforms, or listening to coding podcasts. As you learn, it would be great to come up with a simple project to apply and test your knowledge. Don’t get disappointed if you run to any issues or have any questions, there is a high chance that someone already ran to the same issue as you – there are many online programming communities out there like Stack Overflow, Codeacademy, freeCodeCamp, and MIT OpenCourseWare. Finally, make sure to document what you learned and move on to the next project. 

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