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Class XII- Informatics Practices

Introduction to open source based software

Introduction to open source based software

What is open source?

Back in 1997, Bruce Perens, a prominent Linux operating system developer, wrote a document concerning the distribution and development of the Debian Linux distribution. He later removed references to Debian and created what is now known as The Open Source Definition. Among other things, the Definition states that open source software must be distributed without royalty, that the distributor must make the source code for the software freely available, and the derivative works from the code must also be released as open source.

Open source is essentially a cousin of the Free Software Movement, created in 1983 by Richard Stallman to promote the free distribution of software unfettered by standard proprietary code restrictions. Free software's rules are codified by the General Public License (GPL), which as of October 2006 was under review for its third revision.

Open source, once you strip out all the emotion, is simply a way to develop software. Unlike other programming models, open source takes the viewpoint that developers create better programs if they can share their code.

The natural follow-up to this is that you get users who also become invested in the project. Now, these users may never become programmers, but they can contribute ideas, bug-reports, quality assurance testing, and never least, a group with an interest in your project. If that idea sounds familiar. It should. It's the foundation of corporate communities and social networking.

These ideas have caught fire because open-source delivers the goods. Major open-source programs like the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP/Perl/Python) are what power up the Internet. In addition, it's quite likely that they, and the programs and DBMSs that are built from them, are what's keeping your office servers going. At the same time companies like Red Hat and Novell, which are closely tied to open source, make hundreds of millions of dollars from open-source software, while still others, such as IBM and Oracle, make billions of dollars annually from supporting open-source programs.

Why use open-source software?

Let's start with the reason anyone can understand: It's cheap. But, what's more important is that the open-source software model's return on investment is outstanding. While people can argue until they're blue in the face about exactly how much bottom-line goodness you can get from using open source, the simple facts are that it delivers the goods at an affordable price. Consider, if you will, that of Alexa's Top 20 Global Web sites, only the handful owned by Microsoft aren't built on top of open-source software.

It's scalability, both on the technical and business—no need to continuously buy new licenses—made it ideal for the Internet.

open-source programs like Firefox and OpenOffice are being relied on by more and more office workers.

Why not to use open source?

Ah...this is 2009 right? There really aren't any good reasons not to use it. That said, the same tired, out-dated arguments you're likely to run into include the following:

Free software really isn't free. Yes, you do need to train users on it, you may very well need a support contract for it, but so what? What software doesn't require training and some support? With open-source, at least you have the option, by either hiring experienced IT staffers or training them up yourself of having software that requires annual service contracts and costly manidatory , whether you need or want them or not.

And, again this is 2009. Open-source savvy administrators, technicians, and the like are as easily available as any other IT professional.

That said, if you want to rely on more cutting edge, open-source applications, then you may run into support problems. But, the same thing is true of relying on any cutting edge software.


Open-source software (OSS) is computer software for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that meets the Open Source Definition or that is in the public domain.

This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified forms. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open-source software is the most prominent example of open-source development and often compared to user-generated content.

The term open-source software originated as part of a marketing campaign for free software.

A report by Standish Group states that adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year to consumers.


Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code.

The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:

1. Free Redistribution

The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.

2. Source Code

The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.

3. Derived Works

The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.

4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code

The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.

5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups

The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.

6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor

The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.

7. Distribution of License

The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.

8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product

The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.

9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software

The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.

10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral

No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.


Free and open source software, also F/OSS, FOSS, or FLOSS (free/libre/open source software) is software that is liberally licensed to grant the right of users to study, change, and improve its design through the availability of its source code. This approach has gained both momentum and acceptance as the potential benefits have been increasingly recognized by both individuals and corporate players.

In the context of free and open source software, "free" is intended to refer to the freedom to copy and re-use the software, rather than to the price of the software.

The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software: the GNU operating system.

Unix-like operating systems are built from a collection of libraries, applications and developer tools

The combination of GNU and Linux is the GNU/Linux operating system, now used by millions.

Sometimes this combination is incorrectly called Linux. There are many variants or “distributions” of GNU/Linux.

We recommend the GNU/Linux distributions that are 100% free software; in other words, entirely freedom-respecting.


The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Richard Stallman on 4 October 1985 to support the free software movement, a copyleft-based movement which aims to promote the universal freedom to create, distribute and modify computer software. The FSF is incorporated in Massachusetts, USA.


The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit corporation formed to educate about and advocate for the benefits of open source and to build bridges among different constituencies in the open-source community.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is an organization dedicated to promoting open source software.

The organization was founded in February 1998, by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond

One of our most important activities is as a standards body, maintaining the Open Source Definition for the good of the community. The Open Source Initiative Approved License trademark and program creates a nexus of trust around which developers, users, corporations and governments can organize open-source cooperation.


The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web (abbreviated WWW or W3).

Founded and headed by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the consortium is made up of member organizations which maintain full-time staff for the purpose of working together in the development of standards for the World Wide Web. As of 8 September 2009, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has 356 members.

W3C also engages in education and outreach, develops software and serves as an open forum for discussion about the Web.


Freeware (from "free" and "software") is computer software that is available for use at no cost or for an optional fee. Software that is not freeware is occasionally referred to as payware.

The term freeware was coined by Andrew Fluegelman when he wanted to sell a communications program named PC-Talk that he had created but for which he did not wish to use traditional methods of distribution because of their cost.


The term shareware, popularized by Bob Wallace, refers to proprietary software that is provided to users without payment on a trial basis and is often limited by any combination of functionality, availability or convenience. Shareware is often offered as a download from an Internet website or as a compact disc included with a periodical such as a newspaper or magazine. The rationale behind shareware is to give buyers the opportunity to use the program and judge its usefulness before purchasing a license for the full version of the software


The term "proprietary software" is often used to mean computer software which is neither free nor open source. Terminology for forms of software licensing is not fully standardized and can be controversial. A literal meaning of "proprietary" in relation to software is that it has a copyright owner who can exercise control over what users can do with the software, in contrast to public domain. However, the term is commonly used in a narrower sense to describe software with restrictions on use or private modification, or with restrictions judged to be excessive on copying or publishing of modified or unmodified versions. These restrictions are placed on it by one of its proprietors. In this sense it is also known as "non-free software" and is the opposite of free software, generally speaking.

Well known examples of proprietary software include Microsoft Windows, Adobe Flash Player, PS3 OS, iTunes, Adobe Photoshop, Google Earth, Mac OS X, Skype, WinZip and some versions of Unix.


Localization  is the process of adapting a product or service to a particular language, culture, and desired local "look-and-feel."

Localization or localization may refer to:
* Language localization, the process of translating a product into different languages or adapting a language for a specific country or region
* Internationalization and localization, the adaptation of computer software for non-native environments, especially other nations and cultures
* Dub localization, the adaptation of a movie or television series for another audience


Unicode is a computing industry standard for the consistent representation and manipulation of text expressed in most of the world's writing systems. Developed in conjunction with the Universal Character Set standard and published in book form as The Unicode Standard, the latest version of Unicode consists of a repertoire of more than 107,000 characters covering 90 scripts, a set of code charts for visual reference, an encoding methodology and set of standard character encodings, an enumeration of character properties such as upper and lower case, a set of reference data computer files, and a number of related items, such as character properties, rules for normalization, decomposition, collation, rendering, and bidirectional display order (for the correct display of text containing both right-to-left scripts, such as Arabic or Hebrew, and left-to-right scripts).

The Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit organization that coordinates Unicode's development, has the ambitious goal of eventually replacing existing character encoding schemes with Unicode and its standard Unicode Transformation Format (UTF) schemes, as many of the existing schemes are limited in size and scope and are incompatible with multilingual environments.




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