Open Source


Open source describes the practice that provides free access in production and development to the source materials (the source) of the end product.

Before the term open source came into general use, there were a wide variety of expressions to describe the concept. Its current popularity is partly due to the increasing use of the Internet, the enabling of diverse production models, ways of communicating and interactive communities. The best-known form is open source software.

The open source model allows different calendars and production approaches to be used simultaneously, unlike the more centralized development models typically used for proprietary software. The collaborating developers can work quite independently, without too much central control. End products and the underlying basic materials (for example designs, descriptive documentation and the like) are freely available to the public.


The "open source" label was created during a strategy session in Palo Alto, California, in response to Netscape's January 1998 announcement that Navigator's source code would be released. Session members, Christine Peterson, Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall, SAM Ockman, and Eric Raymond, suggested using the term "open source" for this release to describe the ideological and confusing connotations of the term free software. to prevent. Ultimately, the open source license was transferred to the Mozilla Foundation.

The term became more widely known at the "Freeware summit", a meeting organized by Tim O'Reilly in April 1998. At this meeting, the issues with the term free software were discussed with participants in the then running free and open source projects. including Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Eric Allman, Guido van Rossum (Python), Michael Tiemann, Paul Vixie, Jamie Zawinski of Netscape and Eric Raymond. Tiemann suggested as an alternative the name "sourceware" and Raymond the name "open source". The issue was put to a vote and the results followed at a press conference in the evening. The meeting was afterwards referred to as the "Open Source summit".

This culmination can generally be seen as the birth of the open source movement, but earlier scientists with access to ARPANET used a process called Request For Comments, which was similar to open standards, to develop the telecommunications network protocols. This collaborative process led to the birth of the Internet in 1969. Another early use of open source was in the 1950s, when IBM began distributing its operating system with source code and the SHARE user group was formed to exchange source code.

The Open Source Initiative was founded in 1998 by Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens to promote the benefits of open source in the commercial market. This project was partly a response to the free software movement, which Raymond and Perens saw as too ideological. Bruce Perens used Debian's Free Software Guidelines to create the Open Source Definition.

The term 'open source' is somewhat ambiguous because it could also be used to make the source code accessible to a limited audience, without the code being allowed to be reused or modified.

Applications outside of software development

Software isn't the only area affected by open source. The idea has been applied in more areas.

Eric Raymond and other founders of the open source movement have made a number of public attempts to slow down speculation about applications outside of software, arguing that the strong case for open source software should not be weakened by discussions of areas where the method would be less attractive.

The open source movement has been the source of inspiration for greater transparency and freedom in other areas. Examples include the release of biotechnology research by CAMBIA and the development of Wikipedia. The idea of ​​open source has also been applied to media outside of computer programs, for example by Creative Commons. It is also an example of user innovation (see for example the book Democratizing Innovation). Often times, open source is a simple expression for a system that is freely available to anyone who wants to work on it.

Computer software

Open source software is software whose source code has been published and is freely available to the public, allowing anyone to freely copy, modify, and redistribute it without any charges for copyrights and surcharges. Open source code development is done through joint collaboration of individual programmers as well as large companies.

Computer hardware

Open source hardware is hardware whose design specifications, usually in a software format, have been published and are available to the public, allowing anyone to freely copy, change and distribute the hardware and source specifications. Open source hardware development is done through joint collaboration of individual programmers as well as large companies. Examples of open source hardware are:

  • Sun Microsystems OpenSPARC T1 Multicore Processor. Released under GPL.
  • Arduino, a microcontroller platform for hobbyists, artists and designers.
  • RepRap, a 3D printer.