In proprietary software offerings,
even when a program is "free" (distributed without charge),
its source code is not available for inspection,
let alone modification, etc.
Open Source developers, in contrast,
allow their source code
to be examined, modified, distributed, and used
in a free and open manner.
This has a number of benefits:
- Users can never be prevented from adding a desired feature, porting a package to a new machine, etc.
- Developers can learn from each other, looking at (and modifying) real code, rather than textual descriptions.
- The entire community benefits from all improvements, so users and developers are motivated to spend time sending in bug reports, adding features, etc.
The Open Source concept is spreading rapidly.
Many traditional software vendors (e.g., Apple, HP, IBM, Sun)
are starting to adopt Open Source
as a licensing strategy for all or part of their offerings.
For more information on Open Source software,
visit the Open Source Initiative (http://www.opensource.org
-- Main.RichMorin - 16 Jun 2003