What is open source, and what is the Open Source Initiative?

Open source is a term describing a means of developing and distributing software that ensures software is available for use, modification, and redistribution by anyone. Generally, anyone can download open source software for little or no cost, and can use, share, borrow, or change it without restriction. Open source practice promotes software reliability and quality by supporting independent peer review and rapid evolution of source code.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation whose goal is to promote the use of open source software in the commercial world. To accomplish this goal, OSI maintains and promotes the Open Source Definition and offers the OSI Certified Open Source Software Certification Mark and Program. To be OSI certified, the software must be distributed under a license that guarantees the right to read, redistribute, modify, and use the software freely. The Open Source Definition provided by OSI contains the following elements:

  • 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 specific to a product
  • License must not restrict other software
  • License must be technology-neutral

You may be attracted to open source software for the following reasons:

  • Rapid turnaround with regard to security patches
  • Free availability
  • Online access to software and source code without a large investment in time or money
  • The opportunity to modify and improve source code

This information is taken from the Open Source Definition available at Open Source Initiative.

Open source software that you download, install, or use while affiliated with Indiana University is yours to use and modify according to OSI's provisions during and after your affiliation with IU. Leaving IU will not affect the terms of the OSI license of the software you are using. The use of OSI licensed software and code is an agreement between you and the programmer.

At Indiana University, for personal or departmental Linux or Unix systems support, see At IU, how do I get support for Linux or Unix?

This is document annr in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2017-05-16 11:52:32.

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