While many cooperations choose to patent the source code of their software, some software consultants choose to make the source code of their software available to the general public. This is known as ‘Open Source Software’ or ‘OSS’ and is specifically licensed so that anyone may study, change or distribute the software.
In his seminal essay, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary” Eric Raymond referred to two models of free software development as The Cathedral model, in which the code is developed by a dedicated group of software developers but released with each software release and the Bazaar model, in which the code is public as it is being developed and may be contributed to by any software developers.
Raymond argues that open software models more like the Bazaar model are superior by reducing the amount of time spent trawling through the software code for bugs. The more people that are able to view the software code, the more likely bugs are to being detected. Similarly, software developed publicly and corroboratively in this manner increases the scope of the program more than would be possible if the software code was being developed as part of a small team.
Businesses that have developed their software openly have generally been used more widely throughout the market, and often have a competitive advantage over similar softwares that were developed privately. Open software programs are better equipped to suit the needs and interests of the customers by being able to respond to their requirements directly which increases brand loyalty.
However open source software programs are arguably more vulnerable to hackers and poor security as hackers have a better understanding of the problems with the software code than they would with closed source software.