What is open source software?

What is open source software?Most software that you buy or download only comes in the compiled ready-to-run version. Compiled means that the actual program code that the developer created, known as the source code, has run through a special program called a compiler that translates the source code into a form that the computer can understand.

It is extremely difficult to modify the compiled version of most applications and nearly impossible to see exactly how the developer created different parts of the program. Most commercial software manufacturers see this as an advantage that keeps other companies from copying their code and using it in a competing product.

Open source software (OSS) can be defined as computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license that meets the Open Source Definition. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user-generated content.

The most famous and most widely used Open Source software is technical-operating systems and server software. Everyone thinks of Linux when they hear about Open Source software - it is a clone of the UNIX operating system. Currently it is not so powerful or fully featured as the expensive UNIX versions, such as Solaris, but it is much cheaper, and once you've bought a copy, you can put it on any number of machines you wish. IBM thinks enough of Linux that it is offering versions of Linux on all its hardware, from mainframes to laptops.

Besides Linux, Mozilla (Netscape browser core), Apache (Web server), PERL (Web scripting language) and PNG (graphics file format) are all examples of very popular software that is based on open source.