Sunday, September 20, 2009

What is Open Source

Open Source - the term has been the centre stage of David vs Goliath fight in the software community. Be it Windows vs other operating systems, or Internet Explorer vs Mozilla; and now more recently, or more recently Microsoft vs Google, open source has been the rallying point of the so called 'resistance' to the proprietary regime, For developers within the software community, open source has transcended therole of a mere development methodology into a core life philosophy. Today, we hear of not just open source software, but also open source hardware, open sourche biotechnology, even open source politics!
Open souce is a methodology or approach towards the design and development of software with the intention of giving the user access to the source code; i.e. if you use open source software, not only will you be able to use it, you will be able to use it, you will also be able to see how it works, debut it, modify and redistribute it.
To elaborate and make the difference more clear, image the simplest entry level C++ programmed, the on that says "hello world".
If the program was proprietary, you would merely have access to the EXE file that upon execution would give a window with "hello world" written in it.
However, if the program is open source, you will also be given access to the code that the EXE File is compiled from.
The Open source Initiative, an organization committed to promoting open source uses the open source definition in order to determine if a software is open source or not. This definition, among other things specifies requirements of the license such as preventing, discrimination again any persons of groups and preventing discrimination against fields of endeavour.
One must not forget that there is a core difference between open source and free software. While they both embody the same core idea, the former still allows the commercial utilization of the code with the motive of profit. Many companies such as Red Hat gain significant revenues from sale, distribution, maintenance and consultancy services provided an open source software.

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