The use of Free Open Source Software (FOSS) is very common nowadays. FOSS aims at distributing the software’s source code to the users to study, modify, and report bugs if any, to make the software better. In this article, we will discuss the most common issues with free open source software.
In 2014-2018, the Linux foundation along with Laboratory for Innovation Science, Harvard University aimed at studying and reporting the extent to which non-Government companies and many private organizations usethe open-source software.
Most Common Issues with Free Open Source Software
In this section, we will discuss some of the major issues from the reports they gathered.
1. Possibility of Security Breach Issues
From a detailed study and analysis, Linux Foundation found only a small amount of data on the distribution of the software. They could not find the various ways in which FOSS packages find utility. Inspite of having public data on various package downloads, software variations and flaws in security.
Free and Open Software is made available to the general public. So that, they can access it for studying, modifying purposes for free. Since, being easily available to all, it is very likely to exist in different modified versions, unnoticed by the software developers.
To ensure that this doesn’t happen, it is of sheer importance that each of the instances of the software components is maintained very well. Otherwise, a security breach is quite possible.
2. Lack of Standardized Naming Schemes
The Census II project started by the Linux Foundation in 2018 found that there was the underlying issue of lack of standardized naming schemes. Also, the Census I project started in 2014 had similar issues. The National Institute for Standards and Technology has been trying to cope up with this problem too for decades now.
The names of the software components were still unique and inconsistent by nature. NIST’s vulnerability in management indicated that there was a lack of standardized naming schemes.
3. Lesser Security of Individual Developers
Many open-source software projects are being hosted on individual developer’s accounts without much security, unlike the organizational ones. The Linux Foundation reported that individual accounts are more prone to attack by hackers and have a higher probability of losing their secured code.
Any changes can be made in the code of such individuals without being detected. Certain malicious programs may get in the individual’s code, including a takeover of his/ her account or back-dooring.
Hackers often use these methods to gain access to the code by installing these types of malevolent programs. This provides them with a ‘back-door’ to the individual’s account. One way to handle this is to use two-factor authentication, if possible, which reduces this risk to some extent.
4. Deletion of Accounts over Disagreements
On certain disputes or disagreements, the individual holding the account may delete it permanently.
To ensure the projects are still available for reuse in the future and increased accountability of the projects, it is a good choice to shift to the option of organizational accounts rather than the individual ones.
5. Legacy of the Open Software Components
This is also one of the issues with the FOSS. Reports have shown that the usage of this software poses the same threats and risks as their older and unsupported counterparts.
For example, if a software releases on a particular date, it needs regular updates; otherwise, the security of the software face a setback. The erratic updates can lead to security risks, and its aftermath may last for quite a long time.
6. Less Technical Support
Since it is available for free for all users, it is hard to find any technical support from the developer’s side.
There are no warranties provided for virus threats and low performance. This is one of the major issues with the free open source software.
7. Not Compatible on All Platforms
Most of the platforms having the installed software are compatible only with the proprietary ones. A large percentage of the existing application platforms do not support Open Source Software.
This issue will arise at the time of launching or testing. You must have a broader spectrum of application platforms and check whether a particular one supports the software or not.
8. Competition amongst Developers
There is an ongoing battle among the software developers who want their code to be installed in the original version. Different developers may have different views and add features to the initial source code. However, their such modifications might not even fulfil the need of the organization.
At the end of the day, it becomes a competition between the developers who want inclusion of their features by the company without taking into consideration what exactly is needed. It is of utmost importance that these developers operate together to improve the code pertaining to the company’s needs.
Despite having these disadvantages, Free and Open Source Software have gained a lot of attention since the last few decades. This is due to its mass accessibility and better security than the proprietary software. It provides a chance for innovation for programmers.
Although there are some flaws in the FOSS, it is still a great initiative to expand into talented developers. So that, they can provide some insight on how to make the software better and include the extra essential features.