How Is Public Domain Software Different From Open Source?

Close-up of a string of open source software coding

Sometimes the term "open supply (OS)" is used interchangeably with "public domain (PD)" software program, however they may be not the equal factor.

Both public domain and open-source software allow users to access and adjust the source code of the software program for this system itself. Source code is essentially a listing of commands that dictate how the program executes.

However, a few open-source packages have restrictions on their use and distribution where the public domain software does now not. Open-source software program does have copyrights. The copyright specifies how the consumer may additionally change and distribute the software.

Copyrights or Use Restrictions

The key distinction among OS and PD software isn't always whether or not the source code is obtainable to the person. Instead, the distinction lies in whether or not there are any licensing necessities or different regulations on the use of, changing the source code, redistributing this system, or at the copyright. If there are obstacles, it's miles open-source, no longer public area software program.

Open Source Initiative (OSI), a 501(c)(three) California-primarily based nonprofit, approves open-source copyrights. They offer a very precise and legal definition of open source software program, who can use it, and the way. They also have an alphabetical list of corporations that provide open-supply software program in case you desire to investigate a specific agency. is a incredible region to find out more approximately how you can expand, collaborate and use OS software. OSI-approved copyrights will detail 4 primary freedoms:

  1. Changing the code
  2. Using the software for any purpose
  3. Making new software based on the underlying on your very own use
  4. Sharing the software program

On the opposite hand, public domain software does now not carry copyright or patent—despite the fact that most could in the event that they needed. In a few cases, the writer decided now not to copyright—disclaimed—or the copyright may additionally have expired. The software program may be used, modified, and shared without similarly permissions. However, credit score should constantly take delivery of to the highbrow assets of the creator. Most creators launch their unfastened, public domain software beneath the GNU- GPL popular public license.

Other Important Distinctions

OS software program is at the same time-advanced and can be freely shared, used, or even modified by means of everybody as long as it adheres to the OSI copyright. OS is developed through the contributions of many and allotted underneath licenses that should observe sure standards for use. The license can't discriminate towards each person. In different phrases, you can not bar certain companies of people from the usage of the software. It need to allow for derived works.

You may see the terms shareware associated with software packages. Shareware is low or no-value software program but would require registration and possibly expenses for the full version. Freeware may also come at a small charge and are generally small packages with out consumer help. You may not be able to at once adjust or share either shareware or freeware.


Open-supply software program comes in all styles and sizes and might serve a couple of functions. Examples consist of LINUX, Apache, Firefox, KOffice, Thunderbird, OpenOffice, KOffice, and SquirrelMail. Firefox is a easy web browser, whereas LINUX is extra complex. It's a UNIX-based totally operating gadget. OpenOffice is an workplace suite supplied via Apache. 

In the case of OpenOffice, you can download and set up this system on pretty a good deal any computer free of charge—even if you deploy it on a couple of computers. You also can make copies and hand them out to pals and family. There are no license costs. Use it as you'll every other word processing, spreadsheet or database program. And when you have a hassle—inclusive of that a computer virus pops up—or if you assume you can make it higher, you may record it or simply tweak the issue yourself on your copy. The software permits users to "decorate" it, consistent with Apache. 

Secure Hash Algorithm three (SHA-three) is an example of public area software program. SHA-three is used to convert facts of various sizes into a set layout size. Castle Doctrine, is a puzzle and approach sport developed and launched into the general public area in 2014.

Is It Safe?

Anytime you permit get entry to via more than one customers, the difficulty of viruses arises. Proceed with caution and make sure you have got an awesome anti-virus utility in area whilst you get right of entry to open-source or public domain software program.