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    The open source concept

    There is no official and formal definition what the term, open source, means. On the Open Source Initative at http://opensource.org/ an elegant introduction to the idea is found:

    The basic idea behind open source is very simple. When programmers can read, redistribute, and modify the source code for a piece of software, the software evolves. People improve it, people adapt it, people fix bugs. And this can happen at a speed that, if one is used to the slow pace of conventional software development, seems astonishing.

    We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits.

    Open source software imposes no restrictions on the distribution of the source code required to build a running version of the software. As long as users have no access to the source code, they may be able to use a running version of the software, but they can not change the way that the software behaves. The latter involves changing the source code and rebuilding the running version of the software from the source code. Since building the software out of the source code is quite straightforward, software that has a freely available source code is essentially free.