What is Open Source?

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The ideals of open-source software can be explained by the four essential rights, which are embodied within the Free Software Foundation's General Public License (GPL):

  • The right to use the software for any purpose.
  • Freedom to redistribute the software for free or for a fee.
  • Access to the complete source code of the program (that is, the "blueprints").
  • The right to modify any part of the source, or use portions of it in other programs.

Another view of this philosophy comes from the Open Source Definiton:

"The basic idea behind open source is very simple: When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing."

For more information on Free and Open Source software, visit these websites:

Open Source Initiative (OSI): http://www.opensource.org

Free Software Foundation (FSF): http://www.gnu.org

Content on this page is licensed under the Creative Common Attribution 3.0 license (CC-BY).
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