About Free and Open Source Software?
Free and Open Source Software is software for which the source code of the program can be freely downloaded and altered to suit your needs (provided you can do the programming).
Think of a software program as a cake: the recipe for the cake determines how the cake (program) will turn out. Once the cake has been baked, you can't separate it into its ingredients. You can, however, change the recipe, and modify how the cake turns out. Similarly with Free and Open Source Software, you are allowed access to the "recipe" called "source code", so that if you are capable of doing programming, you can modify it to suit your needs.
There are many types of Free and Open Source Software. The difference lies in the way altered versions of the software can be distributed, so if you customise the software for your own needs, then decide to distribute it, you may be bound by specific terms.
Many such Free and Open Source Software projects make ready to install executable versions for various operating systems including Windows.
You can do the following with Free and Open Source Software :
- install the software on any number of machines in any environment (home or commercial) without purchasing licence fees for each machine
- obtain and modify the source code and distribute modified versions of the program together with the modified source code. Many open source licenses differ in how such source code can be distributed or licensed for others to also do what you have done.
Here are several links for you to learn more about Free and Open Source Software :
- The Open Source Definition
- Published by the Open Source Initiative (OSI) organisation, and lists the criteria by which software should be considered to be open source software
- The Free Software Definition
- The definition of Free software (defined by the Free Software Foundation (FSF)) The word "free" refers to freedom, not price.
While "free software" meets the definition of open source software, not all open source software meets the free software definition. See also
- Why Open Source Software / Free Software? Look at the Numbers!
- Excellent reference paper to "convince you to consider using OSS/FS when you’re looking for software, using quantitive measures"