What is Open Source

Open Source Software is not about software which costs nothing. Instead, Open Source refers to distribution rights which benefit both the original author of a piece of software, and the end user of that software. A formal definition of Open Source has been created by the Open Source Initiative. There are many facets of the Open Source Revolution which all contribute to providing a superior product that can be utilized to provide a more cost effective solution for the end user.

License

Open Source software is distributed under a license, which specifies the rights and limitations for that software. A software license is considered to be an Open source license, if it conforms to these 10 points:

  1. Free Redistribution
  2. Source Code is available
  3. Derived Works are permitted
  4. Integrety of the Author's Source Code is preserved
  5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
  6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
  7. License applies to everyone receiving the software
  8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product
  9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software
  10. License Must Not depend on any particular technology to execute

Detailed definitions of these points can be found here.

Process

Once software is made available under the terms of an Open Source license, some interesting things begin to happen to the process by which software is developed. Instead of the original author having the sole responsibility to fix and improve the software, a community of developers will arise to help with the growth and development of the software.

In general, a larger community of motivated programmers will produce higher quality software and a faster pace that the traditional development model where a smaller development team is used.

Products

Open source alternatives exist for nearly all infrastructure related products, and some end user applications. One of the better known open source products is the GNU/Linux operating system. A GNU/Linux operating system is actually a bundle of hundreds of different open source projects, which when taken together provide a complete operating environment for a computer.

Unlike most proprietary, closed sourced operating system, there are typically several choices available for

Operating Systems

  • GNU/Linux
  • FreeBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • NetBSD
  • Web Servers

  • Apache
  • AOLserver
  • Databases

  • MySQL
  • PostgreSQL
  • Office Suites

  • OpenOffice/StarOffice
  • Koffice
  • Gnome Office
  • Email Servers

  • Sendmail
  • Qmail
  • Exim
  • Postfix