What is open source software?
Open source generally refers to something, in most cases software, that people can modify and freely share because it is publicly available. The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs.
Today, however, “open source” designates a wider set of values referred to as the “open source way”. Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.
Is open source software free?
According to the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the concept of free software to the wider public, for a piece of software to be considered truly “free,” its license must guarantee four key freedoms to its users:
- The freedom to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
- The freedom to study how the program works, and change it, so it does your computing as you wish. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
- The freedom to redistribute copies, so you can help your someone else.
- The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this, you give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes.
Open source software programmers can charge for the open source software they create or to which they contribute. However, more often developers charge for support and software services while keeping the software free of charge.
Why use open source software?
- Cost – the cost of open source software is significantly lower than that of proprietary alternatives, as often the cost of licence fees is removed from the TCO.
- Community – Open source software typically brings together a community of users and developers around it.
- Security – The ability of to see the source code brings major advantages for open-source security. The software development becomes a community effort participated in by people from all over the world, meaning that errors get spotted and fixed faster.
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