open source

Essay by drohoneelUniversity, Bachelor'sA, November 2012

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What Is Open Source?

Technically, "open source" means software that issupplied with the original code in which it was written allowing others to view, modify, adapt, and improve this code. This can include software that cannot be redistributed without explicit permission (and often a payment) to the software owner. Most people now define "open source" more narrowly to as software with the following further characteristics:

• It is protected by copyright, but not patents.

• It has a "copy-left" license (GNU license or similar), which states that it can be redistributed for no charge, but the source code and modifications must be licensed out under the same terms that it was licensed in. Sample licenses are available at Please note, that it is acceptable to sell commercial software in a bundle with this "open source" software.

Open source software is not the same as "shareware" or "freeware" which often does not come with source code and has zero cost as its defining characteristic.

Open source software, may or may not be zero cost.

The benefit of open source software is that when people are allowed to read, distribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves and gets better.

Open Source in Brief

In practice, a typical open-source project uses a web or other internet site as the repository for the source code, documentation, discussions, design documents, bug and issue lists, and other artifacts associated with the project. A particular person or group is the copyright owner for the source, at least initially, and this owner grants permission for individuals or other groups to make modifications to the source mediated through a version control system such as CVS (Concurrent Versions System). Periodic builds are automatically produced, and there are usually several versions of varying...