# Open source

Short description: Free access to software, information and materials as a concept

Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code,[1] design documents,[2] or content of the product. The open-source model is a decentralized software development model that encourages open collaboration.[3][4] 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,[5] and open-source drug discovery.[6][7]

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.[8][9] 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.[10] 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.

## History

Main page: History of free and open-source software

The sharing of technical information predates the Internet and the personal computer considerably. For instance, in the early years of automobile development a group of capital monopolists owned the rights to a 2-cycle gasoline-engine patent originally filed by George B. Selden.[11] By controlling this patent, they were able to monopolize the industry and force car manufacturers to adhere to their demands, or risk a lawsuit.

In 1911, independent automaker Henry Ford won a challenge to the Selden patent. The result was that the Selden patent became virtually worthless and a new association (which would eventually become the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association) was formed.[11] The new association instituted a cross-licensing agreement among all US automotive manufacturers: although each company would develop technology and file patents, these patents were shared openly and without the exchange of money among all the manufacturers.[11] By the time the US entered World War II, 92 Ford patents and 515 patents from other companies were being shared among these manufacturers, without any exchange of money (or lawsuits).[11]

Early instances of the free sharing of source code include IBM's source releases of its operating systems and other programs in the 1950s and 1960s, and the SHARE user group that formed to facilitate the exchange of software.[12][13] Beginning in the 1960s, ARPANET researchers used an open "Request for Comments" (RFC) process to encourage feedback in early telecommunication network protocols. This led to the birth of the early Internet in 1969.

The sharing of source code on the Internet began when the Internet was relatively primitive, with software distributed via UUCP, Usenet, IRC, and Gopher. BSD, for example, was first widely distributed by posts to comp.os.linux on the Usenet, which is also where its development was discussed. Linux followed in this model.

### Open source as a term

The term "open source" was first proposed by a group of people in the free software movement who were critical of the political agenda and moral philosophy implied in the term "free software" and sought to reframe the discourse to reflect a more commercially minded position.[14] In addition, the ambiguity of the term "free software" was seen as discouraging business adoption.[15][16] However, the ambiguity of the word "free" exists primarily in English as it can refer to cost. The group included Christine Peterson, Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall, Sam Ockman, Michael Tiemann and Eric S. Raymond. Peterson suggested "open source" at a meeting[17] held at Palo Alto, California, in reaction to Netscape's announcement in January 1998 of a source code release for Navigator. Linus Torvalds gave his support the following day, and Phil Hughes backed the term in Linux Journal. Richard Stallman, the founder of the free software movement, initially seemed to adopt the term, but later changed his mind.[17][18] Netscape released its source code under the Netscape Public License and later under the Mozilla Public License.[19]

Raymond was especially active in the effort to popularize the new term. He made the first public call to the free software community to adopt it in February 1998.[20] Shortly after, he founded The Open Source Initiative in collaboration with Bruce Perens.[17]

The term gained further visibility through an event organized in April 1998 by technology publisher Tim O'Reilly. Originally titled the "Freeware Summit" and later known as the "Open Source Summit",[21] the event was attended by the leaders of many of the most important free and open-source projects, including Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Eric Allman, Guido van Rossum, Michael Tiemann, Paul Vixie, Jamie Zawinski, and Eric Raymond. At that meeting, alternatives to the term "free software" were discussed. Tiemann argued for "sourceware" as a new term, while Raymond argued for "open source". The assembled developers took a vote, and the winner was announced at a press conference the same evening.[21]

"Open source" has never managed to entirely supersede the older term "free software", giving rise to the combined term free and open-source software (FOSS).

## Economics

Main page: Finance:Open-source economics
Area of application of open source software.[22]
Survey on the reasons for using Open Source in 200 Swiss organizations.[22]

Some economists agree that open-source is an information good[23] or "knowledge good" with original work involving a significant amount of time, money, and effort. The cost of reproducing the work is low enough that additional users may be added at zero or near zero cost – this is referred to as the marginal cost of a product. Copyright creates a monopoly so that the price charged to consumers can be significantly higher than the marginal cost of production. This allows the author to recoup the cost of making the original work. Copyright thus creates access costs for consumers who value the work more than the marginal cost but less than the initial production cost. Access costs also pose problems for authors who wish to create a derivative work—such as a copy of a software program modified to fix a bug or add a feature, or a remix of a song—but are unable or unwilling to pay the copyright holder for the right to do so.

Being organized as effectively a "consumers' cooperative", open source eliminates some of the access costs of consumers and creators of derivative works by reducing the restrictions of copyright. Basic economic theory predicts that lower costs would lead to higher consumption and also more frequent creation of derivative works. Organizations such as Creative Commons host websites where individuals can file for alternative "licenses", or levels of restriction, for their works.[24] These self-made protections free the general society of the costs of policing copyright infringement.

Others argue that since consumers do not pay for their copies, creators are unable to recoup the initial cost of production and thus have little economic incentive to create in the first place. By this argument, consumers would lose out because some of the goods they would otherwise purchase would not be available. In practice, content producers can choose whether to adopt a proprietary license and charge for copies, or an open license. Some goods which require large amounts of professional research and development, such as the pharmaceutical industry (which depends largely on patents, not copyright for intellectual property protection) are almost exclusively proprietary, although increasingly sophisticated technologies are being developed on open-source principles.[25]

There is evidence that open-source development creates enormous value.[26] For example, in the context of open-source hardware design, digital designs are shared for free and anyone with access to digital manufacturing technologies (e.g. RepRap 3D printers) can replicate the product for the cost of materials.[27] The original sharer may receive feedback and potentially improvements on the original design from the peer production community.

Many open source projects have a high economic value. According to the Battery Open Source Software Index (BOSS), the ten economically most important open source projects are:[28][29]

Ranking Project Leading company Market Value
1 Linux Red Hat $16 billion 2 Git GitHub$2 billion
3 MySQL Oracle $1.87 billion 4 Node.js NodeSource ? 5 Docker Docker$1 billion
6 Hadoop Cloudera $3 billion 7 Elasticsearch Elastic$700 million
8 Spark Databricks $513 million 9 MongoDB MongoDB$1.57 billion

### Innovation communities

The principle of sharing pre-dates the open-source movement; for example, the free sharing of information has been institutionalized in the scientific enterprise since at least the 19th century. Open-source principles have always been part of the scientific community. The sociologist Robert K. Merton described the four basic elements of the community—universalism (an international perspective), communalism (sharing information), objectivity (removing one's personal views from the scientific inquiry) and organized skepticism (requirements of proof and review) that describe the (idealised) scientific community.

These principles are, in part, complemented by US law's focus on protecting expression and method but not the ideas themselves. There is also a tradition of publishing research results to the scientific community instead of keeping all such knowledge proprietary. One of the recent initiatives in scientific publishing has been open access—the idea that research should be published in such a way that it is free and available to the public. There are currently many open access journals where the information is available free online, however most journals do charge a fee (either to users or libraries for access). The Budapest Open Access Initiative is an international effort with the goal of making all research articles available free on the Internet.

The National Institutes of Health has recently proposed a policy on "Enhanced Public Access to NIH Research Information". This policy would provide a free, searchable resource of NIH-funded results to the public and with other international repositories six months after its initial publication. The NIH's move is an important one because there is significant amount of public funding in scientific research. Many of the questions have yet to be answered—the balancing of profit vs. public access, and ensuring that desirable standards and incentives do not diminish with a shift to open access.

Benjamin Franklin was an early contributor eventually donating all his inventions including the Franklin stove, bifocals, and the lightning rod to the public domain.

New NGO communities are starting to use the open-source technology as a tool. One example is the Open Source Youth Network started in 2007 in Lisboa by ISCA members.[96]

Open innovation is also a new emerging concept which advocate putting R&D in a common pool. The Eclipse platform is openly presenting itself as an Open innovation network.[97]

### Arts and recreation

Copyright protection is used in the performing arts and even in athletic activities. Some groups have attempted to remove copyright from such practices.[98]

In 2012, Russian music composer, scientist and Russian Pirate Party member Victor Argonov presented detailed raw files of his electronic opera "2032"[99] under free license CC-BY-NC 3.0 (later relicensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0[100]). This opera was originally composed and published in 2007 by Russian label MC Entertainment as a commercial product, but then the author changed its status to free. In his blog[101] he said that he decided to open raw files (including wav, midi and other used formats) to the public in order to support worldwide pirate actions against SOPA and PIPA. Several Internet resources[102][103][104][105] called "2032" the first open-source musical opera in history.

### Other related movements

The following are events and applications that have been developed via the open source community, and echo the ideologies of the open source movement.[106]

Open Education Consortium — an organization composed of various colleges that support open source and share some of their material online. This organization, headed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was established to aid in the exchange of open source educational materials.

Wikipedia — user-generated online encyclopedia with sister projects in academic areas, such as Wikiversity — a community dedicated to the creation and exchange of learning materials[107]

Project Gutenberg — prior to the existence of Google Scholar Beta, this was the first supplier of electronic books and the very first free library project[107]

Synthetic Biology- This new technology is potentially important because it promises to enable cheap, lifesaving new drugs as well as helping to yield biofuels that may help to solve our energy problem. Although synthetic biology has not yet come out of its "lab" stage, it has potential to become industrialized in the near future. In order to industrialize open source science, there are some scientists who are trying to build their own brand of it.[108]

### Ideologically-related movements

The open-access movement is a movement that is similar in ideology to the open source movement. Members of this movement maintain that academic material should be readily available to provide help with "future research, assist in teaching and aid in academic purposes." The Open access movement aims to eliminate subscription fees and licensing restrictions of academic materials[109]

The free-culture movement is a movement that seeks to achieve a culture that engages in collective freedom via freedom of expression, free public access to knowledge and information, full demonstration of creativity and innovation in various arenas and promotion of citizen liberties.[110]

Creative Commons is an organization that "develops, supports, and stewards legal and technical infrastructure that maximizes digital creativity, sharing, and innovation." It encourages the use of protected properties online for research, education, and creative purposes in pursuit of a universal access. Creative Commons provides an infrastructure through a set of copyright licenses and tools that creates a better balance within the realm of "all rights reserved" properties.[111] The Creative Commons license offers a slightly more lenient alternative to "all rights reserved" copyrights for those who do not wish to exclude the use of their material.[112]

The Zeitgeist Movement is an international social movement that advocates a transition into a sustainable "resource-based economy" based on collaboration in which monetary incentives are replaced by commons-based ones with everyone having access to everything (from code to products) as in "open source everything".[113][114] While its activism and events are typically focused on media and education, TZM is a major supporter of open source projects worldwide since they allow for uninhibited advancement of science and technology, independent of constraints posed by institutions of patenting and capitalist investment.[115]

P2P Foundation is an "international organization focused on studying, researching, documenting and promoting peer to peer practices in a very broad sense". Its objectives incorporate those of the open source movement, whose principles are integrated in a larger socio-economic model.[116]

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