Open Source is a software development model being promoted by the non-profit Open Source Initiative (OSI) corporation and other organizations.
Open Source refers to software where the source code is available for anyone to modify. There are many different licenses under which open source software is available, all varying slightly to the degree on the conditions under which the software can be modified and redistributed.
Although the development model for open source software may seem counterintuitive, for many projects it has been shown to be very successful. Generally, open source software is distributed with the underlying source code available for anyone to freely modify and redistribute. This development model is very similar to university research and the 'best of the public' model, where discoveries and research are published in peer reviewed journals or other venues, which are then built upon by other researchers and contributors spawning further ideas and discoveries.
There is a common misconception that open source software must be given away for free, but this is incorrect. Although most open source software is indeed available for free, with the authors usually charging for consulting and other services, there is no obligation for them to do so.
Open source software is also known as "free software". However, its advocates acknowledge that name is misleading in that it sounds, at first hearing, as if the software costs nothing. "Free", in this context, means users are free to modify the software for their own purposes. As its advocates like to say, it means "free speech, not free beer" (see also free software movement).
Examples of well known open source software:
- MediaWiki - Wiki software used for sites such as Conservapedia and Wikipedia.
- Apache - Apache web server, the most popular web server in the world.
- Firefox - Firefox web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation.
- PHP - PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor, a scripting language used to create dynamic web sites such as Conservapedia.
- Linux - Operating system kernel used to create distributions such as the one running the server on which Conservapedia runs