Question: What is meant by Free and Open Source Software? Explain the role of FOSS in promoting growth of digital governance in India.
Answer: Free and Open Source Software are a category of software that is open to all users without having to pay fees for using them. They can be freely licensed, copied, studied and modified without any boundations or restrictions.
Examples of FOSS
- Linux operating system
- VLC media player
- Libra office
Role of FOSS in growth of digital governance
- New application development
The pre-existing FOSS has allowed development of applications at a faster rate. This has made digital governance feasible.
- Cheaper alternative
Government does not have to spend its limited resources in hiring software developers. This is cheaper and also makes governance easier.
Advantages of FOSS
- Easier customization
The backbone of the software will already exist. A developer just has to customize it according to their need. This is easy compared to developing it from scratch.
- No legal problem
Many issues regarding copyright may arise during software development. FOSS is completely free and will not attract legal issues.
- Greater reach
Since FOSS is open source, it can reach many people for study and modification. People can gain expertise with hand-on approach.
- No maintenance
Since FOSS is completely open source there is no dedicated authority to carry out maintenance. There will also be absence of experts in monitoring its functioning.
- Vulnerable to hacks
The source code and design of the software is known to everyone and thus it makes them vulnerable to attacks. Additional modifications have to be carried out.
Thus, FOSS has indeed helped growth of digital technology in India as well as world. It will allow equitable access to technology in future.