The term Open Source Software refers to computer server and software applications that are developed for the free private use of individuals under varying circumstances. There are two main concepts associated with open source software; 1) the software is distributed free to end users and 2) the source code is available to anyone and derivatives of the software are allowed to be created and distributed based on the source code.
Open source applications can be financially backed by all large or small companies, be developed through a community of developers, or some combination of both. There are several methods for companies to make money through open source software applications, including offering consulting support services for their application, offering technical support for the applications, or through the offering of advanced add-on features to the software.
The open source philosophy promotes sharing, collaboration, and accessibility for all software programs. A formal definition of open source software was developed by the Open Source Initiative in the late 1990s.
There are several successful open-source applications on the market today including:
Linux: The term Linux is the generic name given to operating system applications that use the Linux kernel. It was originally developed as a derivative of the UNIX operating systems in the mid-1990s. Linux has established itself in the business server market and is used widely by many industries. Distrowatch is a great resource for researching and downloading Linux distributions.
OpenOffice.org: OpenOffice.org is an open source office productivity application that is financially backed by Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle). It is a robust office application that includes a word processor, a spreadsheet application, a presentation application, a drawing application, a database application, and a mathematical function generating application.
Mozilla: Mozilla is an internet software suite consisting of a web browser, Firefox, and an email program, Thunderbird. It is financially backed by Mozilla Foundation. Recent market studies have shown that Firefox has up to a 25% market share of the web browser market.
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