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What is Open Source?

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Background Information on Open Source

Open Source Software

The folks at the Open Source Initiative give the best definition of open source:

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.

Open source software allows the user to freely take their own best interests into account, without being constrained by the interests and/or licensing restrictions of the author or vendor. This means that if, for example, you are dissatisfied with an open source application's security implementation or find that some feature is missing, you can dive in and fix the code yourself. You can then give those changes back to the community so that others may benefit.

The reason open source has become so successful is that it leverages open standards, which are the rules and guidelines that drive communication among people/sites/hosts on the Internet. These open standards help open source developers create applications that in turn conform to those same standards, ultimately giving the user the freedom to choose their preferred applications.

Learn more about Open Source:

Why is OSU using open source?

Times are tough. No doubt about it. But work still has to be done - only now it has to be done for an increasing number of students, while providing better services with less funding.

By having open access to source code, we are able to (1) solve problems more quickly, in whatever way we want or need to solve them, and (2) maintain freedom of control over our computing infrastructure. This freedom is greatly facilitated by the use of open source software. For more information on the issue of software freedom, please visit the Free Software Foundation.

Oregon State University recognizes the benefits that result from the use of open standards and is pushing forward by developing and utilizing open source tools and techniques that give the campus more for its IT dollar.

The OSU Open Source Lab is a collaboration among many Departments, with the intent of pooling resources and knowledge across campus. This collaboration has already yielded two fantastic open source projects (Maintain and Weblodge) and our group is currently helping additional University folks with their development needs. Visit the sidebar links under "OSU OSL Projects" for more information about our projects.

Delivering the Tools

Developing a tool that will be used by many people is not a simple task. It involves more than just writing code and shoving it off to users. In order to leverage the true power of open source, a strong infrastructure must exist to support the developer and user communities.

At we provide bug tracking, mail lists, CVS/SVN (version tracking) as well as an assortment of other tools to help enable developers and users of our tools.

Last modified 2004-07-02 12:27 PM

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