What is Open-Source Software? A Definition & History of OSS

Originally published at: https://ethical.net/technology/what-is-open-source-software-a-definition-history-of-oss/

Open-source software (OSS) sounds almost too good to be true. The term is used to describe software and products that can be adapted and implemented for free, giving full access to the source code for anyone to use and modify. This is in stark contrast to commercially developed software, where the source code is closely…

It would rightly have to be called “the free software community”, since “Open Source” (trademark written that way), only came to be in 1996, in an effort to not focus on the very prominent ethos of all the software freedoms by the free software community.

With the FSF kicking out Stallman, and “Free Software” not gaining foothold in terms of mindshare over what uses to be “freeware”, I have taken to calling it “Libre software”, to avoid both the OSI and the FSF in doing so.

I would argue the driver disadvantage is now the opposite, and that it stopped being an issue around 2008 or so. Being hosed with closed software drivers is a much bigger problem these days, and leads to a lot of waste when newer Android devices have chipset drivers that require older Linux kernels, and thus can’t support newer (and secure) Android versions. Some efforts have been made to mitigate this, but alas.

Security by obscurity has been proven well and truly false, and size and losing interest is not really anything special about libre software as such. If anything one gains the interest of as many as possible by making something available, no?