Brought to you by Abhishek Prabhu
With material from wordpress.org
Open-source software is software whose source code is available for anyone to view, modify, and enhance.
Source code refers to computer instructions that are written by software developers in a programming language to manipulate the way software works.
Most proprietary software is distributed in the form of executable files, where the source code has been compiled such that it is encrypted for computer use, without the source code being available. If the source code were available without compiling and encrypting, then it would be possible to study and modify the program—that is what open-source software provides: the ability to read and modify the code behind the software.
Free software is not simply software for which there is no charge (although the term freeware is used generally to describe software without a cost).
Free software is software that gives you the user the freedom to share, study and modify it. We call this free software because the user is free
Free software is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of free as in free speech, not as in free beer.
Free software refers to software that complies to “four essential freedoms” – to use, study, modify and distribute software for any purpose without legal restraint. A program is free software if the program’s users have these four essential freedoms, according to Richard Stallman, a founder of the movement:
Open-source software is characterized by the public accessibility of its code, while free software focuses on the capabilities for using and sharing the software. These terms overlap somewhat, but they are not interchangeable.
Some additional terms for describing these overlapping ideologies for software projects are:
General Public License was created as an alternative software license for the GNU project
GNU is a recursive acronym that stands for: GNU’s not UNIX
The governing principles for open-source development were outlined by Eric Raymond in his book The Cathedral and the Bazaar - (Published in 1999)
A key takeaway from the book is the idea that
Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.which he termed Linus’s Law, since the public availability of the source code makes it possible for a wider group of contributors to detect and correct software problems.
The term open-source software was coined in 1998 when Netscape released the source code for its web browser (Navigator) in hopes of enhancing it by providing access to the code to more people so they could locate and fix bugs. This release garnered much attention for the open-source development process. Today, some of the world’s most popular applications are open-source software: Android, Mozilla Firefox, LibreOffice, Git and many more
As an end user, developer, or business manager, why should one consider whether or not to use open-source software. Here are some key factors:
GPL stands short for (GNU) General Public License. It’s sometimes referred to as a copyleft license, in contrast to copyright, since it flips the terms of the copyright on the software.Rather than restrict distribution, the GPL copyright is used to specify the ownership of the source code and the terms upon which it may be shared.
WordPress is open-source free software distributed under GPL license.
WordPress began as a successor fork of the abandoned b2/cafelog software project, as Matt Mullenweg first pondered in a 2003 post “The Blogging Software Dilemma,” later that year posted “Whoa. WordPress.,” and then launched the original release on WordPress.org with the post “WordPress Now Available.
Since then it has grown to be the largest self-hosted blogging tool in the world, used on millions of sites and seen by tens of millions of people every day.
WordPress is maintained and advanced by a global community of volunteer contributors—some are employed by the WordPress sponsor company Automattic, some work for other companies that specialize in WordPress, and many more are independent users who use WordPress for any reason whatsoever.
It’s not necessary to be a software developer who contributes code to the WordPress software, though that is an important role.
There are many other ways any person can contribute to the project by assisting in support forums, writing documentation, making language translations, and helping with Meetups or WordCamps. Visit make.wordpress.org to learn more about the various teams working on WordPress and how to get involved.