Open-Source Software

What Does Open-Source Software Mean?

Open-source software (OSS) is software that is distributed with source code that may be read or modified by users.

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The OSS community generally agrees that open-source software should meet the following criteria:

  • The program must be freely distributed
  • Source code must be included with the program
  • Anyone must be able to modify the source code
  • Modified versions of the source code may be redistributed

As well, an open-source software license must not require the exclusion of, or interfere with, the operation of other software.

Techopedia Explains Open-Source Software

Unlike traditional software distributed in an unchangeable compiled format, open-source software is delivered with both compiled and non-compiled formats, allowing open code modification. In traditional software licenses, this privilege would be reserved for copyright holders.

Not all software developers favor the use of open-source software, but many have accepted it because it allows for quicker repair of software issues and may ultimately lead to higher quality applications.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret Rouse is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical, business audience. Over the past twenty years her explanations have appeared on TechTarget websites and she's been cited as an authority in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine and Discovery Magazine.Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages. If you have a suggestion for a new definition or how to improve a technical explanation, please email Margaret or contact her…