DETROIT – In a world seemingly dominated by a few tech giants and closely kept company secrets, open-source software bucks the trend. Encouraging the sharing of knowledge and collaboration on tech projects, some companies are proving that giving everyone the opportunity to improve and innovate can accelerate progress.

Open-source software is where users are able to view, access, and edit source code. This can be carried out by an individual or as a collaborative project among users working towards a common goal. The ability to call upon the knowledge and experience of people from a variety of backgrounds can often lead to more effective solutions and greater innovations.


Developed by Mozilla, Firefox is the third most popular web browser after Chrome and Safari. Created in 2002 as an experiment, after a couple of name changes, Firefox launched with popular features such as pop-up blocker and rivaled Internet Explorer, which at the time was under fire for a range of functionality issues.

By 2009, Firefox had been downloaded more than one billion times, and almost 20 years after its first appearance, it still boasts 260 million desktop users.


An open-source operating system, Linux is an incredibly popular choice serving almost 97% of the top million web servers. Powering the vast majority of cloud computing infrastructure and almost three-quarters of smartphones, Linux is one of the most successful examples of open-source software in use today. Click here to find out how the freely distributable operating system is being used commercially to offer a huge variety of business solutions.


Another free and open source piece of software available is the graphics tool Gimp. While it can’t compete with the sophistication of Photoshop, it does provide an excellent option for people looking to edit images to a semi-professional level for free. Gimp is an acronym for General Image Manipulation Program and was first developed back in 1995 as a University of California project. Features allow users to erase, blend, clone, blur and sharpen, among other editing tools.


Python is a coding language that can be used not only for web development but also software development and system scripts, among other applications.

An industry leader, Python is used by social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram along with Google, Netflix, and Dropbox. It has been around a long time, first being worked on back in the 1980s; it is now one of the most used programming languages available.


If you’re looking for an open-source database, you won’t go far wrong with MySQL. Used to create and manage databases, it stores data into searchable tables. The fact that it is relatively simple to use makes it a popular choice with novices while at the same time its quality makes it the first choice for many tech giants such as Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon.

Considering the internet was built on a foundation of sharing and collaboration, these companies continue to promote this sense of community and innovation in the same spirit while proving you can reap great rewards from doing so.

This guest column was provided by Carol Trehearn.