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(also free and open-source software, FLOSS, F/OSS)

FOSS definition

FOSS (also known as FLOSS) describes free and open-source software. Because it is open source, programmers and users can change, modify, and reuse the software’s source code to improve program functionality in any way they want. The term “free” means the software has no copyright constraints. FOSS enables software engineers and experts to collaborate worldwide without reverse engineering.

FOSS pros

  • Flexibility and agility. FOSS enables technology agility and offers many ways to solve problems. FOSS is flexible because it can be freely changed, used, and distributed by anyone.
  • Cost-effectiveness. FOSS is generally free to use, making it accessible to small businesses with a tight budget.
  • Enhanced security. With more users inspecting the code, open-source software is more secure than proprietary software. Vulnerabilities are typically fixed faster, and updates are more frequent, too – leaving less time for attackers to exploit the flaws in the code.

FOSS cons

  • Compatibility issues. Some closed-source software doesn’t support open-source software, so users or companies may need to purchase additional specialized drivers.
  • User friendliness. Open-source software isn’t always user friendly.
  • Lack of support. With open-source software, getting help when experiencing technical issues can be difficult.

Popular FOSS products

  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Linux server software
  • Android phone operating system
  • VLC media player
  • GIMP
  • Tor browser

Further reading

Ultimate digital security