Open source software

Open source software is a collective name for all kinds of software for which the source code is freely available. Everyone is allowed to extend or improve the software and to distribute it. The use of open source software as alternative to commercially developed software is strongly growing in popularity. The main reasons for this growth are the high quality and fast availability of this type of software, and of course the license cost: zero.

The use of open source software also carries some risks. The conditions from open source software licenses may in some cases create problems. One might for instance be required to release the source code for a commercial product if it is based on open source software. Open source software and patents do not mix very well. More and more open source projects are hindered by third party patents. Patent holders in turn are confronted with increasingly aggressive anti-patent clauses in open source licenses.

Some people prefer to use the term "free software" instead of "open source software". The reasons for this are political. The open source movement and the free software movement have slightly different goals and try to achieve them in different ways. However, to most people the difference is minimal.