Open source

Open source is a source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code,[1] design documents,[2] or content of the product. It most commonly refers to the open-source model, in which open-source software or other products are released under an open-source license as part of the open-source-software movement. Use of the term originated with software, but has expanded beyond the software sector to cover other open content and forms of open collaboration.


The term “open source”, as used to describe software, was first proposed by a group of people in the free software movement who were critical of the political agenda and moral philosophy implied in the term “free software” and sought to reframe the discourse to reflect a more commercially minded position.[3] Moreover, the ambiguity of the term “free software” was seen as discouraging business adoption.[4][5] The group included Christine Peterson, Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall, Sam Ockman, Michael Tiemann and Eric S. Raymond. Peterson suggested “open source” at a meeting[6] held at Palo Alto, California, in reaction to Netscape’s announcement in January 1998 of a source code release for Navigator. Linus Torvalds gave his support the following day, and Phil Hughes backed the term in Linux Journal. Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement, initially seemed to adopt the term, but later changed his mind.[6][7] Netscape released its source code under the Netscape Public License and later under the Mozilla Public License.[8]

Raymond was especially active in the effort to popularize the new term. He made the first public call to the free software community to adopt it in February 1998.[9] Shortly after, he founded The Open Source Initiative in collaboration with Bruce Perens.[6]

The term gained further visibility through an event organized in April 1998 by technology publisher Tim O’Reilly. Originally titled the “Freeware Summit” and later known as the “Open Source Summit”,[10] the event was attended by the leaders of many of the most important free and open-source projects, including Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Eric Allman, Guido van Rossum, Michael Tiemann, Paul Vixie, Jamie Zawinski, and Eric Raymond. At the meeting, alternatives to the term “free software” were discussed. Tiemann advocated “sourceware” as a new term, while Raymond argued for “open source”. The assembled developers took a vote, and the winner was announced at a press conference the same evening.[10]

Many large formal institutions have sprung up to support the development of the open-source software movement, including the Apache Software Foundation, which supports community projects such as the open-source framework Apache Hadoop and the open-source HTTP server Apache HTTP.

The open-source model and open collaboration

The open-source model is a decentralized software development model that encourages open collaboration,[11][12] meaning “any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike.”[11] A main principle of open-source software development is peer production, with products such as source code, blueprints, and documentation freely available to the public. The open-source movement in software began as a response to the limitations of proprietary code. The model is used for projects such as in open-source appropriate technology,[13] and open-source drug discovery.[14][15]

The open-source model for software development inspired the use of the term to refer to other forms of open collaboration, such as in Internet forums,[16] mailing lists[17] and online communities.[18] Open collaboration is also thought to be the operating principle underlining a gamut of diverse ventures, including TEDx and Wikipedia.[19]

Open collaboration is the principle underlying peer production, mass collaboration, and wikinomics.[11] It was observed initially in open source software, but can also be found in many other instances, such as in Internet forums,[16] mailing lists,[17] Internet communities,[18] and many instances of open content, such as Creative Commons. It also explains some instances of crowdsourcing, collaborative consumption, and open innovation.[20]

Riehle et al. define open collaboration as collaboration based on three principles of egalitarianism, meritocracy, and self-organization.[21] Levine and Prietula define open collaboration as “any system of innovation or production that relies on goal-oriented yet loosely coordinated participants who interact to create a product (or service) of economic value, which they make available to contributors and noncontributors alike.” [11] This definition captures multiple instances, all joined by similar principles. For example, all of the elements — goods of economic value, open access to contribute and consume, interaction and exchange, purposeful yet loosely coordinated work — are present in an open source software project, in Wikipedia, or in a user forum or community. They can also be present in a commercial website that is based on user-generated content. In all of these instances of open collaboration, anyone can contribute and anyone can freely partake in the fruits of sharing, which are produced by interacting participants who are loosely coordinated.

An annual conference dedicated to the research and practice of open collaboration is the International Symposium on Wikis and Open Collaboration (OpenSym, formerly WikiSym).[22] As per its website, the group defines open collaboration as “collaboration that is egalitarian (everyone can join, no principled or artificial barriers to participation exist), meritocratic (decisions and status are merit-based rather than imposed) and self-organizing (processes adapt to people rather than people adapt to pre-defined processes).”[23]

Open-source license

Open source promotes universal access via an open-source or free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint.[24][25] Before the phrase open source became widely adopted, developers and producers used a variety of other terms. Open source gained hold in part due to the rise of the Internet.[26] The open-source software movement arose to clarify copyright, licensing, domain, and consumer issues.

An open-source license is a type of license for computer software and other products that allows the source code, blueprint or design to be used, modified or shared (with or without modification) under defined terms and conditions.[27][28] This allows end users and commercial companies to review and modify the source code, blueprint or design for their own customization, curiosity or troubleshooting needs. Open-source licensed software is mostly available free of charge, though this does not necessarily have to be the case. Licenses which only permit non-commercial redistribution or modification of the source code for personal use only are generally not considered as open-source licenses. However, open-source licenses may have some restrictions, particularly regarding the expression of respect to the origin of software, such as a requirement to preserve the name of the authors and a copyright statement within the code, or a requirement to redistribute the licensed software only under the same license (as in a copyleft license). One popular set of open-source software licenses are those approved by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) based on their Open Source Definition (OSD).

Open-source software code

Generally, open source refers to a computer program in which the source code is available to the general public for use for any (including commercial) purpose, or modification from its original design. Open-source code is meant to be a collaborative effort, where programmers improve upon the source code and share the changes within the community. Code is released under the terms of a software license. Depending on the license terms, others may then download, modify, and publish their version (fork) back to the community.

“Open” versus “free” versus “free and open”

Free and open-source software (FOSS) or Free/libre and open-source software (FLOSS) is openly shared source code that is licensed without any restrictions on usage, modification, or distribution.[citation needed] Confusion persists about this definition because the “Free”, also known as “Libre”, refers to the freedom of the product not the price, expense, cost, or charge. For example, “being free to speak” is not the same as “free beer”.[7]

Conversely, Richard Stallman argues the obvious meaning of term “open source” is that the source code is public/accessible for inspection, without necessarily any other rights granted, although the proponents of the term say the conditions in the Open Source Definition must be fulfilled.[29]

“Free and open” should not be confused with public ownership (state ownership), deprivatization (nationalization), anti-privatization (anti-corporate activism), or transparent behavior.[citation needed]

  • GNU
    • GNU Manifesto
    • Richard Stallman
  • Gratis versus libre (no cost vs no restriction)


  • List of free and open-source software packages
  • Open-source license, a copyright license that makes the source code available with a product
    • The Open Source Definition, as used by the Open Source Initiative for open source software
  • Open-source model, a decentralized software development model that encourages open collaboration
  • Open-source software, software which permits the use and modification of its source code
  • History of free and open-source software
  • Open-source software advocacy
  • Open-source software development
  • Open-source-software movement
  • Open-source video games
    • List of open-source video games
  • Business models for open-source software
  • Comparison of open-source and closed-source software
  • Diversity in open-source software
  • MapGuide Open Source, a web-based map-making platform to develop and deploy web mapping applications and geospatial web services (not to be confused with OpenStreetMap (OSM), a collaborative project to create a free editable map of the world).

Agriculture, economy, manufacturing and production

  • Open-source appropriate technology (OSAT), is designed for environmental, ethical, cultural, social, political, economic, and community aspects
  • Open-design movement, development of physical products, machines and systems via publicly shared design information, including free and open-source software and open-source hardware, among many others:
    • Open Architecture Network, improving global living conditions through innovative sustainable design
    • OpenCores, a community developing digital electronic open-source hardware
    • Open Design Alliance, develops Teigha, a software development platform to create engineering applications including CAD software
    • Open Hardware and Design Alliance (OHANDA), sharing open hardware and designs via free online services
    • Open Source Ecology (OSE), a network of farmers, engineers, architects and supporters striving to manufacture the Global Village Construction Set (GVCS)
    • OpenStructures (OSP), a modular construction model where everyone designs on the basis of one shared geometrical OS grid
  • Open manufacturing or “Open Production” or “Design Global, Manufacture Local”, a new socioeconomic production model to openly and collaboratively produce and distribute physical objects
  • Open-source architecture (OSArc), emerging procedures in imagination and formation of virtual and real spaces within an inclusive universal infrastructure
  • Open-source cola, cola soft drinks made to open-sourced recipes
  • Open-source hardware, or open hardware, computer hardware, such as microprocessors, that is designed in the same fashion as open source software
    • List of open-source hardware projects
  • Open-source product development (OSPD), collaborative product and process openness of open-source hardware for any interested participants
  • Open-source robotics, physical artifacts of the subject are offered by the open design movement
  • Open Source Seed Initiative, open source varieties of crop seeds, as an alternative to patent-protected seeds sold by large agriculture companies.

Science and medicine

  • Open science, the movement to make scientific research, data and dissemination accessible to all levels of an inquiring society, amateur or professional
    • Open science data, a type of open data focused on publishing observations and results of scientific activities available for anyone to analyze and reuse
    • Open Science Framework and the Center for Open Science
    • Open Source Lab (disambiguation), several laboratories
    • Open-Source Lab(book), a 2014 book by Joshua M. Pearce

See also: The antithesis of open science is Scientism, a blind faith in profit driven proprietary (closed) science and marketing (ie. proprietary software, proprietary protocols, fields of private biomedical engineering, biological patents, chemical patents (drugs), minimal sufficiency of disclosure, etc.).

  • Open-notebook science, the practice of making the entire primary record of a research project publicly available online as it is recorded
  • Open Source Physics (OSP), a National Science Foundation and Davidson College project to spread the use of open source code libraries that take care of much of the heavy lifting for physics
  • Open Source Geospatial Foundation
  • NASA Open Source Agreement (NOSA), an OSI-approved software license
  • List of open-source software for mathematics
  • List of open-source bioinformatics software
  • List of open-source health software
  • List of open-source health hardware


  • Open-source film, open source movies
    • List of open-source films
    • Open Source Cinema, a collaborative website to produce a documentary film
  • Open-source journalism, commonly describes a spectrum on online publications, forms of innovative publishing of online journalism, and content voting, rather than the sourcing of news stories by “professional” journalists
    • Open-source investigation

See also: Crowdsourcing, crowdsourced journalism, crowdsourced investigation, trutherism, and historical revisionism considered “fringe” by corporate media.

  • Open-source record label, open source music
  • “Open Source”, a 1960s rock song performed by The Magic Mushrooms
  • Open Source(radio show), a radio show using open content information gathering methods hosted by Christopher Lydon
  • Open textbook, an open copyright licensed textbook made freely available online for students, teachers, and the public


  • Open Source Initiative (OSI), an organization dedicated to promote open source
  • Open Source Software Institute
  • Journal of Open Source Software
  • Open Source Day, the dated varies from year to year for an international conference for fans of open solutions from Central and Eastern Europe
  • Open Source Developers’ Conference
  • Open Source Development Labs (OSDL), a non-profit corporation that provides space for open-source project
  • Open Source Drug Discovery, a collaborative drug discovery platform for neglected tropical diseases
  • Open Source Technology Group (OSTG), news, forums, and other SourceForge resources for IT
  • Open source in Kosovo
  • Open Source University Meetup
  • New Zealand Open Source Awards


  • Open security, application of open source philosophies to computer security
  • Open Source Information System, the former name of an American unclassified network serving the U.S. intelligence community with open source intelligence, since mid-2006 the content of OSIS is now known as Intelink-U while the network portion is known as DNI-U
  • Open-source intelligence, an intelligence gathering discipline based on information collected from open sources (not to be confused with Open-source artificial intelligence such as Mycroft (software)).


  • Open-source curriculum (OSC), an online instructional resource that can be freely used, distributed and modified while inviting feedback and participation from developers, educators, government officials, students and parents
  • Open-source governance, open source in government
    • Open politics (sometimes known as Open-source politics), a political process that uses Internet technologies to provide a rapid feedback mechanism between political organizations and their supporters

See also: Parliamentary informatics and Civic technology.

  • Open-source religion in the creation of belief systems
  • Open-source unionism, an innovative model for labor union organization


  1. ^“The Open Source Definition”. Open Source Org. 7 July 2006. Archived from the original (html) on 11 June 2007. Retrieved 22 January 2020. Open source doesn’t just mean access to the source code.
  2. ^“What is Open Source Software”. Diffingo Solutions Inc. Archived from the original(html) on 28 October 2008. Retrieved 22 January 2020. Open source software differers from other software because it has a less restrictive license agreement: Instead of using a restrictive license that prevents you from modifying the program or sharing it with friends for example, sharing and modifying open source software is encouraged. Anyone who wishes to do so may distribute, modify or even create derivative works based on that source code!
  3. ^O’Mahony, Siobhan Clare (2002). “The emergence of a new commercial actor: Community managed software projects”. Stanford, CA: Stanford University: 34–42.
  4. ^Eric S. Raymond. “Goodbye, “free software”; hello, “open source””. The problem with it is twofold. First, … the term “free” is very ambiguous … Second, the term makes a lot of corporate types nervous.
  5. ^Shea, Tom (23 June 1983). “Free software – Free software is a junkyard of software spare parts”. InfoWorld. Retrieved 10 February 2016. “In contrast to commercial software is a large and growing body of free software that exists in the public domain. Public-domain software is written by microcomputer hobbyists (also known as “hackers”) many of whom are professional programmers in their work life. […] Since everybody has access to source code, many routines have not only been used but dramatically improved by other programmers.”
  6. ^ Jump up to:ab c Tiemann, Michael (19 September 2006). “History of the OSI”. Open Source Initiative. Archived from the original on 1 October 2002. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  7. ^ Jump up to:ab “Why Open Source misses the point of Free Software”. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 14 November 2012.
  8. ^Muffatto, Moreno (2006). Open Source: A Multidisciplinary Approach. Imperial College Press. ISBN 978-1-86094-665-3.
  9. ^“Goodbye, “free software”; hello, “open source””. Retrieved 25 October2012.
  10. ^ Jump up to:ab van Rossum, Guido (10 April 1998). “Open Source Summit”. Linux Gazette. Archived from the original on 29 December 2013. Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  11. ^ Jump up to:ab c d Levine, Sheen S., & Prietula, M. J. (2013). Open Collaboration for Innovation: Principles and Performance. Organization Science, doi:10.1287/orsc.2013.0872
  12. ^Raymond, Eric S. (2001). The cathedral and the bazaar: musings on Linux and Open Source by an accidental revolutionary. OReilly. ISBN 978-0-596-00108-7.[page needed]
  13. ^Pearce, Joshua M (2012). “The Case for Open Source Appropriate Technology”. Environment, Development and Sustainability. 14 (3): 425–431. doi:10.1007/s10668-012-9337-9.
  14. ^“Science 2.0 is here as CSIR resorts to open-source drug research for TB” Business Standard, 1 March 2009
  15. ^“Open Source Drug Discovery for Malaria Consortium
  16. ^ Jump up to:ab Lakhani, Karim R., & von Hippel, Eric (2003). How Open Source Software Works: Free User to User Assistance. Research Policy, 32, 923–943 doi:10.2139/ssrn.290305
  17. ^ Jump up to:ab Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Majchrzak, Ann (2008). Knowledge Collaboration Among Professionals Protecting National Security: Role of Transactive Memories in Ego-Centered Knowledge Networks. Organization Science, 19(2), 260-276 doi:10.1287/orsc.1070.0315
  18. ^ Jump up to:ab Faraj, S., Jarvenpaa, S. L., & Majchrzak, Ann (2011). Knowledge Collaboration in Online Communities. Organization Science, 22(5), 1224-1239, doi:10.1287/orsc.1100.0614
  19. ^“Open collaboration leading to novel organizations – KurzweilAI”.
  20. ^Levine, Sheen S.; Michael J. Prietula (30 December 2013). “Open Collaboration for Innovation: Principles and Performance”. Organization Science. 25 (5): 1414–1433. arXiv:1406.7541. doi:10.1287/orsc.2013.0872. ISSN 1047-7039. S2CID 6583883.
  21. ^Riehle, D.; Ellenberger, J.; Menahem, T.; Mikhailovski, B.; Natchetoi, Y.; Naveh, B.; Odenwald, T. (March 2009). “Open Collaboration within Corporations Using Software Forges” (PDF). IEEE Software. 26 (2): 52–58. doi:10.1109/MS.2009.44. ISSN 0740-7459. S2CID 6038418. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 22 November 2018.

Ofer Abarbanel – Executive Profile

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Ofer Abarbanel online library

Ofer Abarbanel online library

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