Open-source software

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Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that permits users to study, change, improve and redistribute the software.[citation needed]

Spreading of Open-source software

Free and open-source software has become a mainstream phenomenon in the twenty-first century and is pervasive today. (From the software used by organizations, open-source is expected to rise to thirty percent by mid-2012.[1] In 2011, about thirty percent of the total software expenditures in the United States were for the development of prepackaged software; thirty-five percent were for custom-developed software; and thirty-five percent for the development of software for internal uses.[2])

The Linux operating system is one of the most widely known examples of collaboratively developed open-source software. However, it is only one of many thousands of such projects. Many mainstream companies, such as IBM, are contributing substantial resources in support of Linux and other open-source projects.

Software companies that provide open-source software to their customers generally recoup their investments through the sale of services (e.g., to install, maintain, or customize the software) or complementary assets (e.g., proprietary add-on programs that perform specialized functions).[3]

OSS as a gift culture

Main article: Gift economy

In his essay "Homesteading the Noosphere", noted computer programmer Eric S. Raymond pointed out that free and open source software developers are a 'gift culture'.

He notes that gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance. They arise in populations that do not have significant material-scarcity problems with survival goods. We can observe gift cultures in action among aboriginal cultures living in ecozones with mild climates and abundant food. We can also observe them in certain strata of our own society, especially in show business and among the very wealthy.

In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.

Within it, there is no serious shortage of the `survival necessities'—disk space, network bandwidth, computing power. Software is freely shared. This abundance creates a situation in which the only available measure of competitive success is reputation among one's peers.[4]


  1. Alison Diana. "Open Source Approaching 30% Of Enterprise Software", InformationWeek, February 09, 2011. Referenced 2011-10-10.
  2. U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. "Data Tables: Software Investment and Prices by Type" (xls), U.S. Department of Commerce, (last updated Aug. 3, 2012). Referenced 2012-08-12.
  3. Pamela Samuelson. "The Uneasy Case for Software Copyrights Revisited" (pdf), The George Washington Law Review, September 2011. Referenced 2011-10-10.
  4. Eric Steven Raymond. "The Hacker Milieu as Gift Culture", a chapter from Homesteading the Noosphere. Referenced 2012-07-21.


See also: Open-source hardware at Wikipedia