open source

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open source

a. intellectual property, esp computer source code, that is made freely available to the general public by its creators
b. (as modifier): open source software

open source

(philosophy, legal)
A method and philosophy for software licensing and distribution designed to encourage use and improvement of software written by volunteers by ensuring that anyone can copy the source code and modify it freely.

The term "open source" is now more widely used than the earlier term "free software" (promoted by the Free Software Foundation) but has broadly the same meaning - free of distribution restrictions, not necessarily free of charge.

There are various open source licenses available. Programmers can choose an appropriate license to use when distributing their programs.

The Open Source Initiative promotes the Open Source Definition.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar. was a seminal paper describing the open source phenomenon.

Open Sources - O'Reilly book with full text online.

Articles from ZDNet.

open source

Software that is distributed with its source code so that end user organizations and vendors can modify it for their own purposes. Most open source licenses allow the software to be redistributed without restriction under the same terms of the license. For the complete, official definition of open source, visit For a list of approved open source licenses, visit

There are thousands of open source titles, and although used on most platforms, they are particularly common in the Unix world. Major examples are the Linux operating system, Apache Web server and JBoss application server. See Linux, Apache and JBoss.

Free and Paid
A great amount of open source software is available at no charge, and many open source projects are developed by a community of volunteers. However, there are commercial vendors that enhance open source software, provide technical support and charge a fee, the most notable example being the Linux operating system (see Linux distribution).

Fewer Bugs vs. Too Many Cooks
Open source proponents claim that the code in open source programs is continuously reviewed by new programmers, and bugs are weeded out more quickly. In addition, the wide variety of contributors leads to enhancements that might not otherwise be included. However, vendors of proprietary software counter by saying that having total control over the software is far superior; that the old saying "too many cooks spoil the broth" is especially true in software development.

Advantages of Open Source
The single major advantage is no licensing fees. A second advantage is flexibility. Users of open source software can modify the programs to fit their needs, and many companies use open source for this reason alone.

Another advantage is the ability to fast track a project. Since there is no contract to sign, IT departments can use the software without waiting for contractual negotiations to be completed.

Lastly, as long as there is one remaining, devoted contributor, the software will continue to be enhanced. In the world of proprietary, commercial software, a useful program that users may truly love is often abandoned when it no longer generates enough profit. For more information, visit and

The Free and Open Source Communities
In the late 1990s, open source software was derived from "free software," meaning free of restrictions and why the phrase "free and open source software" is often used. Whereas the "free software" movement promotes the user's freedom as an ethical issue, the philosophy of open source focuses on the practical benefits when users cooperate with each other. Nearly all open source software conforms to the free software movement, but there are occasional exceptions because the definition of free software is more strict (see free software). See open data, Shared Source and open source hardware.
References in periodicals archive ?
To surmount the challenge of securing open source code, Sonatype has integrated into its Nexus solution a machine learning engine (Nexus Intelligence) that has analyzed more than 20 million open source libraries.
Open source allows for customization because business users can take a piece of open source code and tweak it to suit their needs.
The most significant aspect of the GPL is that it requires users of open source code who incorporate that code into their own programs and then distribute those programs, to make both the pre-existing source code and the source code for the new work available to recipients of the new software.
Many CMS sites are available in open source code (i.e., free) and have well-established user support communities.
So it might be a bit harder to contribute, unless the hacking is done on an open source browser, such as those based on Apple's WebKit or Mozilla's open source code. After all, because WebM doesn't require a plug-in to play back in a browser, only modifications to the browser's core code will enable playback.
Also new is a community site called "The Commons," where customers and partners can leverage the shared knowledge, expertise and open source code developed by PaperThin and members of the CommonSpot community.
The solution can also find open source code that has been deliberately changed to hide the origin.
It will also publish the SETI Institute's signal-detection algorithm as open source code, inviting brilliant coders and amateur techies to make it even better.
Tringme has also released this as an open source code (link) to demonstrate the usage of TringMe's VOIP API.
In an age when the ubiquity of computers has made the exchange of data effortless, a school of thought has emerged that suggests that "information wants to be free." Many computer programmers have taken this philosophy to heart with the creation and promotion of "open source code," computer programming language that by its very nature, is designed to be shared, at no cost and for no profit, by anyone who wants to use it.
The plug-in is PHP based and is open source code under the GPLv2 license.
In fact, many of the world's leading websites use Open Source software and Microsoft, one of the most proprietary companies in the world, has Open Source code in some of its products.

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