WHAT IS OPEN SOURCE?
Open Source Software (OSS) refers to computer software -- the source of which is available under the General Public License (GPL) or its equivalent. The GPL requires that source codes be released to the end-user along with associated "executable" files and allows for the software's use, alteration, improvement, and redistribution (in modified or unmodified form) as long as it is released over the Internet or to the public at-large. By contrast, Microsoft (MS) and other proprietary software manufacturers only distribute executable files that enable installation and operation of the software. Their licensing terms expressly prohibit anyone from making changes to their programs.
The Open Source Definition (OSD)
The Open Source Initiative (OSI), a 501(c)3, public benefit corporation, has published the standards for the Open Source Definition (OSD), and is the community-recognized body for reviewing and approving licenses as OSD-conformant. It emphasizes that "open source does not just mean access to the source code." Accordingly, it has published a list of ten criteria with which any open source software must comply:
- Free Redistribution
- Source Code
- Derived Works
- Integrity of the Author's Source Code
- No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups
- No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor
- Distribution of License
- License Must Not Be Specified to a Product
- License Mist Not Restrict Other Software
- License Must Be Technology-Neutral