Open-source tools are software tools that are freely available without a commercial license. Many different kinds of open-source tools allow developers and others to do certain things in programming, maintaining technologies or other types of technology tasks.
Open-source tools stand in contrast to tools that are commercially licensed and available to users for a fee. Well-known examples of open-source tools include many of the software products from the Apache Foundation, such as big-data tool Hadoop and related tools. Most of these are freely available, with the licensing held by a user community, instead of a company making a profit from software.
The open-source movement has caused controversy in the IT world for many years. There are different philosophies in play, where open-source proponents believe that tools and software applications should be publicly available. Companies that still license and sell software products have a vested interest in keeping this model going. However, in certain instances, open source has made big inroads in consumer communities.
One prominent example is the Mozilla Firefox web browser, which has significant share in consumer use around the world. Rather than being a browser bought by a company, or shipped with that company's hardware, Mozilla Firefox is a free download browser with its own appeal to the user community. In general, open-source tools reveal a history of developers collaborating on system design without any motive for profit.