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What is Open Source?
Published  07/8/2011 | Computer Encyclopedia Page 6 | Unrated
What is Open Source?
Generally, open source refers to applications whose source code is available for any one to see and modify in any way they please. In general practice, over the last thirty to forty years since the birth of the software industry, software code has been considered to be the property of the organisation who designed the software, and anyone who used it was required to pay a license fee for using the software. In the early 1970s, Richard Stallman, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, took an ideological stand against the use of proprietary software declaring that the right to read and modify the source code is a fundamental right and that software should be open and free: “Free as in free speech, not free beer.” He came up with the General Public License (GPL) for open source software. The GPL essentially states that anyone who receives a copy of any software covered under the GPL simultaneously receives the entire rights to read or modify the source code. The giver may decide to either give the software with the source code for free (as in “free beer”) or need that the recipient pay some fee. In either case, the giver has no right to restrict access to the source code. One of the most striking examples of the open source movement is the development of the Linux operating system. This was an open collaborative effort that saw a full-fledged operating system evolve out of a computer science student’s hobby.
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