Open source software
From St. Louis Hackerspace Wiki
Open Source Software (or OSS for short) is software where most of the source code of a software project is freely available.
Open Source/Free Software as an alternative to Proprietary
When we think of Proprietary software companies, the first companies that come to mind are Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, Oracle, SUN Microsystems, IBM, SAP (who makes Crystal Reports), Autodesk, etc. Big companies that offer well known software at a big price. Then we see software by little companies, that isn't very good, and is at a very small price sold between the "500 pieces of clip art" software and the "Barbie Horses video game".
Sure, most OSS is not sold or made by some big company, but it is also not crapware.
Some proprietary developers do offer free and open source software. SUN Microsystems and MySQL AB still make money by selling their software to companies, while at the same time offers free software for personal use and software development.
Why Proprietary developers are afraid of OSS/Free Software
Like most things technological that are taken out of context or misinterpreted for personal gain, many proprietary and commercial developers assume that that "open source" means giving away company secrets. This is clearly false.
Just as two different programmers or companies can write code differently to do the same task, so does the chance that an open-source project can do the same thing that a closed-source project.
Legally, software companies can't do anything to stop the release of the open-source code unless they have evidence that the person who wrote the code actually and deliberately reverse engineered their software. The same can be said about open-source software developers who can actually prove that someone took their code unless they have evidence that someone or a proprietary developer took their code intentionally and did not acknowledge them as a contributor.
However, some proprietary companies understand that open-source doesn't mean they must give out their company secrets. With features in some programming languages like information hiding and access modifiers, some companies have opened the door to outside development without any loss of business.
If anything, open development encourages customers to consider supporting proprietary developers who support open-source development.
- Free software
- Closed source software
- Proprietary software
- Commercial software
- List of free and open source software