Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product. The open-source model is a decentralized software development model that encourages open collaboration. A main principle of open-source software development is peer production, with products such as source code, blueprints, and documentation freely available to the public. The open-source movement in software began as a response to the limitations of proprietary code. The model is used for projects such as in open-source appropriate technology, and open-source drug discovery.
Open source promotes universal access via an open-source or free license to a product's design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint. Before the phrase open source became widely adopted, developers and producers have used a variety of other terms. Open source gained hold with the rise of the Internet. The open-source software movement arose to clarify copyright, licensing, domain, and consumer issues.
Generally, open source refers to a computer program in which the source code is available to the general public for use or modification from its original design. Code is released under the terms of a software license. Depending on the license terms, others may then download, modify, and publish their version (fork) back to the community. Many large formal institutions have sprung up to support the development of the open-source movement, including the Apache Software Foundation, which supports community projects such as the open-source framework Apache Hadoop and the open-source HTTP server Apache HTTP.
Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code.
Open source software differs from other software because it has a less restrictive license agreement: Instead of using a restrictive license that prevents you from modifying the program or sharing it with friends for example, sharing and modifying open-source software is encouraged. Anyone who wishes to do so may distribute, modify or even create derivative works based on that source code!
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