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Open Source Software

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Open Source Software

What is Open Source Software? Some consider it anarchy, others a revolutionary methodology that will hasten the development of software throughout the Information Technology community. Open Source Software is defined as, allowing the code that makes the graphic user interface work, available to the user so that they may view it, make changes to it, and build new versions that if are sold or distributed, that source code must also be released.. The emergence of open source software as viable alternative has fueled one of the most explosive movements in the information technology community.

Because Open Source is not dominated by any specific corporation the people that comprise the community are a diverse collection of inexperienced personal computer enthusiasts, industry professionals and activists. This group ranges in skill from novice to seasoned programmer and are often referred to as Hackers. The term Hacker immediately conjures up thoughts of some disgruntled employee utilizing his knowledge of a former employers network for theft or to gain unauthorized access to proprietary information. Hackers, in an effort to differentiate themselves from this group began calling those criminals as well as virus writers crackers. In the information technology community Hackers are people who program enthusiastically and believe that information sharing is a powerful positive good. "Hackers believe that it is their ethical duty to share their expertise by writing free software and facilitating access to information and computing resources wherever possible." Historically, hacker projects have begun out of personal necessity. A user wanted a particular application, but finds that there isn't one to fit their particular needs. So the user creates the application and releases it via the net. As others begin to use it, they also contribute to the effort. Over time these projects will attract a great deal of attention, thus adding to the complexity of the code and the functionality of the program. It is this scenario along with every hackers innate disdain for authority that allow open source to be the revolutionary force it has become.

Open Source Software by definition is a progam or operating system that allows the user access to the program's source code, to view the source code, modify it, and redistribute it to others. This is in stark contrast to the more traditional closed source software distribution that has dominated the retail software market for decades, where the user only gets the executable version of the program, not the raw source code itself. Proprietary source code is a tightly guarded secret, and redistribution or resale is strictly prohibited. One common misnomer among the general public and some industry professionals is that terms open source software and free software are interchangeable, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Yes, open source is often available absolutely free of charge, it can be sold as long as the aforementioned conditions are met. Free software on the other hand



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