Open source is a term used to describe software that is not only available for free use but also its source code is made public.
This means anyone can modify it further for their use but more importantly contribute to help improve this piece of software. This was the original intent of open-source software.
Almost all open-source projects are driven by a community of volunteers. However, some vendors enhance open-source software, resell them, and sometimes make a profit by providing technical support or through some other model. A successful example is RedHat [↗].
Use Cases and Examples
There are dozens of open-source software available today that programmers and developers use every day. For example, Python [↗] is an open-source high-level [→], and object-oriented programming language [→] that is commonly used for developing websites and general-purpose [→] software. Being open-source, anyone can access, use, and distribute the source code of Python.
Open source comes with a built-in community, which means the dedicated community made of people from many parts of the world is continuously fixing bugs and improving the source code. Therefore, it is more stable and empowers developers to use the existing code to bring innovations.
The opposite of open-source software is closed-source [→] software and as the name implies, this is the kind of software whose source code is not publicly available.
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