Advances in technology have led to the development of several open-source operating systems. For any computer to work, it needs an operating system (OS). The operating system allocates resources to software, implements standard services for computer software, and manages the hardware.
The main difference between proprietary OS and open-source OS is that proprietary OS hides its source code. Open-source OS lets anyone download, change, and contribute to the OS kernel. This article outlines the disadvantages of open-source OS and ways of optimizing its use.
Definition of an open-source operating system?
An open-source software indicates that the owners or copyright holders let users see and modify its source code. Thus, an open-source operating system is an OS whose source code is publicly visible and editable.
An OS is software that manages all the work of a computer including peripheral devices, hardware, and other components. Also, it functions as an interface between the system hardware and the user.
What’s more, an operating system design allows it to carry out various tasks like processing information, memory allocation, task scheduling, and arithmetic calculations among others. There are different types of operating systems:
- Distributed operating system
- Time-sharing operating system
- Batch operating system
- Real-time operating system
- Network operating system
How open-source OS works
These operating systems work just like their closed or proprietary counterparts. The difference is that the source code or the whole application can be modified by the user. Although performance differences may be nonexistent, there are differences in how they function.
Different types of open-source OS
Often open-source operating systems are based on Linux. Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel that offers the core functions required in an operating system.
These functions include data parceling, memory processing, and computer hardware interactions. After learning the Linux open-source source code, a lot of developers created multiple operating systems that meet their needs.
Although Linux is at the core of most of the open-source operating systems, there are others that are not based on Linux. Operating systems differ depending on their purposes and goals.
As some of the open-source operating systems such as Elementary OS, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu focus on simplicity others like Tails focus on security.
Reasons people use open-source software
A lot of people prefer open-source software over proprietary counterparts for various reasons. These include:
Most users prefer open-source software since it gives them more control over the software. With open-source OS, users can examine the source code to ensure it does not do anything they do not want. Also, they can change parts of the software to their liking. Also, open-source OS benefits users who are not programmers since they can use it for anything they want.
Some prefer open-source operating systems because they help them be better programmers. Since the source is publicly accessible, users can study it to help them make better software.
Also, students can share their work with others to develop their skills. As well, once someone discovers a mistake in the source code, they share them to avoid them in the future.
A number of open-source software users prefer it because they believe it is more secure and stable compared to proprietary software. Since anyone can see and modify the software, someone will likely spot mistakes and correct them.
Also, many programmers work on the open-source OS fixing, updating, and upgrading it faster than proprietary operating systems.
Users of open-source operating systems prefer it for important long-term projects. Since developers publicly distribute the source code, users can rest assured that software for essential tasks will not disappear when the original creators halt work on it.
Disadvantages of open-source operating systems
Besides a good number of people using open-source operating systems, they have several disadvantages. Here are some of them:
In case the operating system fails, its effect will be felt across the entire system since the computer will not work. Fortunately, a developer can use a vulnerability scanner to establish if there are vulnerabilities in the system.
Since the operating system is at the center of the computer system its failure means that the computer cannot work. So, when the central system crashes, the entire communication will stop, ending the processing of data.
Usually, operating systems are very complex and the languages used to create them are not well defined. So, if an open-source OS has an issue, its users may not understand which makes it hard to resolve fast.
Threats of virus
Like other systems, open-source operating systems are at risk of virus attacks. This happens when users download malicious software on their system which can either slow the computer or halt the OS functions.
How to optimize the use of open-source operating systems
There are several considerations necessary when optimizing the use of open-source OS. Here are some key considerations to take into account:
Functionality and flexibility
First, ensure the operating system has the functionality needed in everyday operations. For this, list the necessary features and compare them with the capabilities of the program. Usually, developers offer a brief description of the operating system.
Also, establish if the OS supports the current software components. If it does not have all the functionality, identify how to customize the software or bridge the functionality gap.
Because the source code is available to all, test the OS for security vulnerabilities. Also, check if the product is safe through the National Vulnerability Database. A recent trend in software testing is the use of automation.
Maintenance and support
Next, understand how to receive maintenance and support for the software of your choice. Big, open-source software developers usually hire a company that consults users regularly. Nevertheless, an open-source OS vendor with technical support is the best choice.
Also, an internal maintenance team can deliver. However, never underestimate the knowledge of active open source community users.
Open-source operating systems are reasonable for businesses and organizations of different sizes. Despite its disadvantages, there are ways of optimizing open-source OS for use.