Tuesday, November 09, 2004

What is Open Source?

Open Source is a non-profit corporation dedicated to managing and promoting the Open Source Definition for the good of the community, specifically through the OSI Certified Open Source Software.

What is Open Source ?

Before we discuss more about the differences between open source and proprietary software, we need to understand perfectly what the term really means. Many people have a misconception that "open source" means "free of charge" but that's not necessarily the case. Open source code can be and is the basis for products of all Linux Distributions like Redhat,Mandrake,Debian and dozens of other commercial distributions of Linux that range from a few dollars to a few thousand dollars like Redhat Enterprise Edition .

"Open source" also does not mean that it is "unlicensed" In fact, there are a whole slew of licenses under which open source software is distributed. Some of the most popular licenses include GPL (the GNU Public License), BSD, and the Mozilla Public License. The Open Source Initiative (OSI), a non-profit corporation, has developed a certification process for licenses. You can see a list of open source licenses approved by OSI at http://opensource.org/licenses/.

Open source software means the source code is available to anyone who wants it, and can be examined, modified and distributed . This is in contrast to "closed" or proprietary software such as Microsoft Windows, for which the source code is a closely kept as a trade secret (except when it's leaked to the public).

When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, and people fix bugs.

In the open source community everyone has learned that this rapid evolutionary process model produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers have a look at the code.


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