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What is FOSS?



By Pranav Khurana

Have you ever wondered how many people in this world use Windows?  Microsoft has a market share of more than 85% when it comes to Operating Systems. Consequently, the number of windows users are more than 1 billion.

But very small percentage of these people are aware that Windows collects a large amount of data from them on a daily basis. In fact, Windows actually record every single keystroke, which means that Microsoft keeps a record of every single key you hit on your computer. And they openly admit that they collect data in the terms and conditions of Window’s license agreement.

The part that most of us skip and click on “I agree” without reading. By clicking on that we are giving Microsoft the right to collect, use and disclose our data. Sounds horrendous, doesn’t it? And it’s not just Microsoft, but Google too collects really sensitive data from its users, like location history, search and browsing history etc. All this software comes under the category of proprietary or closed-source software.

Now, what is proprietary software? Let us look at this in an analogical manner. Using proprietary software, like Windows, is like renting a house. You pay for it, but it is not yours. You do not own it, you are not allowed to make any changes and you have to follow certain rules and regulations. Same is the case with proprietary software, you are not allowed to publish, copy or lend the software. You are also prohibited from looking at its code, forget about changing and modifying it. All in all, when it comes to proprietary software, you are totally at the mercy of the distributor, you have no surety of privacy, and to top it all of you have to pay for it as well.

On the other hand, free and open-source softwares are simply the opposite. As the name suggests, the software is free to use. Anyone can look at its source code and modify it as they like because it’s an open-source. This definitely brings a sense of safety, privacy and control to the user. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Now instead of renting the house, you own the house. Which means you can make whatever changes you want in it. You are free to do whatever you want with that software. However in most cases, there is no big company behind the software, it’s just a team of developers, which doesn’t involve “technical support team”, so you can turn  for help in case something goes wrong. But there is something just as good as it, “The Community”, the immense number of people who are using the software who help each other out in case of problems on online forums.

To sum up, everything that is mentioned above, you can never be sure of your privacy and safety when it comes to proprietary software, they may be paid but also collects your personal data. If you care about your privacy, you must ditch proprietary software and start using and appreciating open-source software. It is really crucial that people start to realise that software like Windows and Chrome are taking advantage of them, and that there are many free and open-source alternatives to all proprietary softwares. For example GNU/linux, an impeccable alternative for Windows, Brave and Firefox are great alternatives for Google Chrome, GIMP, an amazing photo editing alternative for photoshop, the list is interminable.

So, if you are ready to drop proprietary software, there is a huge community of open-source advocates out there for you, to support you, and free you from the clutch of proprietors.