Open Source Software
Overview Open source is a
set of principles and practices on how to write software,
the most important of which is that the source code is openly available. Open
source is defined at Webopedia. The open source definition, which was
developed by Bruce Perens and Eric Raymond, adds some meaning to the term.
It states that one should not only get the source code but have the right
to use it. The open source definition
is currently maintained by the Open
Source Initiative (OSI). The open source definition is used by
the OSI to determine if a software license can be considered open source.
For some history of the OSI, click here.
For reliably updated news about open source software click this
link to the osdir.com.
Linux Open Source For many
people, one of the first things that come to mind when thinking about open
source software is the Linux operating system. Linux
is a Unix-like computer operating system. The name "Linux" comes
from the Linux kernel, started in 1991 by Linus Torvalds. (For a biography
of Linus Torvalds click here.)
The system's utilities and libraries
usually come from the GNU
operating system, announced in 1983 by Richard Stallman. The GNU
contribution is the basis for the alternative name GNU/Linux. Linux is one
of the most prominent examples of free software and open source
development. Typically, all underlying source code can be freely modified,
used, and redistributed by anyone.
Linux Open Source Download Sites
There are many distributions of Linux available currently. A comprehensive
database of the numerous distributions can be found rated according to
popularity at the DistroWatch.com
Web site. There are descriptions of each distribution as well as links for
downloading each distribution. Take a look at The
Hungry Penguin for advice on which Linux versions to choose as a
beginner or advanced user. Live distributions (no installation
required) and mini versions of Linux are also discussed. This Linux.com
page provides a list of some of the most popular versions of Linux and
links to download them.
General Open Source Download Sites
There are many Web sites on the Internet that offer open source software
for Windows, Macintosh, and Linux platforms. SourceForge.net
is the world's largest and most popular open source software development
Web site. SourceForge.net provides free hosting to open source software
development projects with a centralized resource for managing projects,
issues, communications, and code. Another very popular location for
downloading open source software is the OSload.com Open
Source Software Directory. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C)
offers its own open source software, available for download or use at www.w3.org/Status.
Windows Open Source Download Sites
Open source software for Windows can be found at the Open
Source Windows Web site. Open Source Windows is a simple list of the
best free and open source software for Windows. This is not a
comprehensive list; instead it showcases the best, most important, and
easiest to use. A list of open source software for Windows can be reviewed
at the popular OpenSourceList.org
Web site. This list is searchable and can be browsed by tags,
license types, and operating system types.
Mac Open Source Download Sites
Popular open source software available for Macintosh computers can be
downloaded from the Open Source
Mac Web site. Open Source Mac is a simple list of the best, most
important, and easiest to use open source software. The Free OpenSource
Software Mac User Group (FreeSMUG)
has a directory of Mac OS X free open source software. The FreeSMUG also
offers tutorials, info, news, and help for end-users as well as free and
open source Mac software. There is a list of recently available open
source downloads for the Mac OS X at the Apple Web site called Unix
& Open Source: Most Recent.
Portable Open Source Software A
portable application is a software program
that does not require any kind of formal
installation and can be stored on a removable storage device such
as a CD-ROM, USB flash drive, or flash card, enabling it to be used on
multiple computers. Portable open source software applications are
gaining in popularity and are available for all of the major OS platforms.
PortableApps.com offers many
open source software applications that can run from any portable hardware
(USB flash drive, iPod, portable hard drive, etc) on Windows. Read
Open Source Applications on a USB Flash Drive" by Dr. Steve Yuen
for an interesting article and slide show about portable open souce
software applications as they pertain to education. Take a look at
the tutorials at Pendrivelinux.com
for information about how to boot and run different Open Source Linux
distributions from a USB Flash drive. A portable desktop can be carried
with you wherever you go! Finally, a comprehensive list of portable open
source software can be found at the No
Thick Manuals Web site.
Other Links For a discussion of
how open source software differs from commercial software, how open source
software is developed, as well as other interesting topics, take a look at
the article entitled "What
is Open Source" by Dan Woods. In the book "Open
Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution", leaders of
Open Source come together in print for the first time to discuss the new
vision of the software industry they have created through essays that
explain how the movement works, why it succeeds, and where it is going.