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  • Writer's pictureOpen Source Wave

What is Open Source?

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

In real open source, you have the right to control your own destiny. - Linus Torvalds

What is Open Source?

Link to video chapter

Open Source Software are those whose source code is publicly available to everyone. Anyone can freely use it, modify it and redistribute it.

Let’s understand each term individually.

Source Code

A soul of any software is its code, most of user never see the source code, they use the software.

But behind every software there is a code, which is compiled, transpiled or interpreted by the browser.

So, in open source software, this source is available in public domain means anyone can see what is written in the code.

Let’s take an example of Food Dish. so a food dish is the final thing you consume.

But what is the core or soul of the dish? It is it’s recipe, the final Dish is outcome of recipe.

So, it you make this recipe in public domain anybody can prepare that dish. Open Source is something like this.

Now let’s see how an open source software can be freely used, Modified or Redistributed.

[Use it]

Since it is in publicly available anyone can see the code and use the software.

[Modify it]

Now if anybody want to make any change in software,

For e.g. if you found any bug in the software, you can fix it and can contribute back to it or if you want to add a new feature you can do that as well.

[Redistribute it]

Once it modified, than the modified version of that software can be redistributed i.e. you have the ownership to redistribute it.

So, this was concept of making source code available, so that anyone can freely use it, modify it and redistribute it.

How the Open Source term was Coined?

Link to video chapter

Initially the free Software world was widely used but there were some problem with this word.

Like when any business hears this term, free, they thought the Software will be cheap, unusable and worthless software and they thought they couldn't make money out of it.

And this terms was kind of confusing for newcomers, they often assume the free word is referring to the Price or Money, which was not the case.

Actually the Free words was referring to the freedom at the philosophical level.

So, this was issue which needs to be address, On February 5, 1998, a group was assembled at VA Research and during this meeting Open Source termed was coined.

The credit of inventing this term goes to Christine Peterson, we are thankful to her for this invaluable contribution.

Whats makes a piece of software open source?

Link to video chapter

Just making source code available in public doesn’t makes it open source software.

Author have to give rights to users to freely use, modify or redistribute it.

So, how author can do it,

The process is simple - By adding a License file in the code.

In brief, License allow software to be freely used, modified, and shared.

There are various open source license available, like Apache, MIT, GNU etc.

Like if you have driving license, you are legally allowed to drive in the respective nation.

Similarly if your code have open source License file, it will allow user to freely use it, modify it and share it.

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