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 ?
Users of the website can take advantage of a host of XMOS-related developer resources including shared project implementation ideas, a community-driven discussion forum, and immediate access to the recently implemented collaborative open source program.
PyP joins a growing family of Imageworks Open Source programs that now include OpenColorIO, OSL, Maya Reticle, Field3D, and Scala Migrations.
This early release of code follows the model of the most successful open source programs in which development from this point forward will be done "in the open" for others to watch, use and contribute to as desired.
Through Westcon's CollaborationPoint Open Source program, resellers will be able to access sales support, pre-sales engineering and post-sales support, advanced selling and configuration tools, authoritative market analysis and up-to-date product information designed to increase reseller profitability.
I'm pleased that the SFLC has definitively spoken on ODF," said Chris DiBona, Open Source Program Manager at Google, Inc.
OSDL is a natural mentor for students in Google's Summer of Code program," said Chris DiBona, open source program manager, Google.
Stormy Peters joins OpenLogic from Hewlett-Packard (HP) where she founded and managed the Open Source Program Office.
WHO: Bill Roth, Vice President Product Marketing, BEA Systems Nils Gilman, Director of Product Marketing, BEA Systems Jim Rivera, Director of Technology, BEA Systems Cliff Schmidt, Open Source Program Office, BEA Systems WHEN: Scheduled for Tuesday, February 22, 2005 1:00 p.
Other assignments included Co-Director for Intel's advanced research lab in Berkeley, California, the Linux & Open Source Program Manager for the Microprocessor Software Lab, and Global Alliances Director for the Intel Online Services division.
The discovery of security holes in two of the world's most widely adopted open source programs highlights what may be yet to come.
Minister of Communications and Information Technology Atef Helmy said the most anticipated benefits of using open source programs are lowering governmental expenses on technology solutions and decreasing Egypt's software imports, besides promoting social awareness of the importance of using these applications.
However, approval in the European Union is a big step forward for a deal hailed by some as transformational for the entire software industry and by others as the killer of one of the most successful open source programs in the world, the MySQL database.

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