The Open Source Definition

The Open Source Definition is a document published by the Open Source Initiative, to determine whether a software license can be labeled with the open-source certification mark.[1]

The definition was taken from the exact text of the Debian Free Software Guidelines, written and adapted primarily by Bruce Perens with input from the Debian developers on a private Debian mailing list. The document was created 9 months before the formation of the Open Source Initiative.


Open source doesn't just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria:

  1. Free Redistribution The license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale.
  2. Source Code The program must include source code, and must allow distribution in source code as well as compiled form. Where some form of a product is not distributed with source code, there must be a well-publicized means of obtaining the source code for no more than a reasonable reproduction cost preferably, downloading via the Internet without charge. The source code must be the preferred form in which a programmer would modify the program. Deliberately obfuscated source code is not allowed. Intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or translator are not allowed.
  3. Derived Works The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.
  4. Integrity of The Author's Source Code The license may restrict source-code from being distributed in modified form only if the license allows the distribution of "patch files" with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time. The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.
  5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
  6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor The license must not restrict anyone from making use of the program in a specific field of endeavor. For example, it may not restrict the program from being used in a business, or from being used for genetic research.
  7. Distribution of License The rights attached to the program must apply to all to whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those parties.
  8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product The rights attached to the program must not depend on the program's being part of a particular software distribution. If the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program's license, all parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution.
  9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software The license must not place restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software. For example, the license must not insist that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open-source software.
  10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral No provision of the license may be predicated on any individual technology or style of interface.


FSF position

The open source movement's definition of open source software by the Open Source Initiative and the official definitions of free software by the Free Software Foundation (FSF) basically refer to the same software licenses (with a few minor exceptions see Comparison of free and open-source software licenses), both definitions stand therefore for the same qualities and values.[2] Despite that, FSF founder Richard Stallman stresses underlying philosophical differences when he comments:

The term “open source” software is used by some people to mean more or less the same category as free software. It is not exactly the same class of software: they accept some licences that we consider too restrictive, and there are free software licences they have not accepted. However, the differences in extension of the category are small: nearly all free software is open source, and nearly all open source software is free.

— Free Software Foundation[3]

Open Knowledge

Open Knowledge International (OKI)[4] described in their Open Definition for open content, open data, and open licenses, "open/free" as synonymous in the definitions of open/free in the Open Source Definition, the FSF and the Definition of Free Cultural Works:

This essential meaning matches that of "open" with respect to software as in the Open Source Definition and is synonymous with “free” or “libre” as in the Free Software Definition and Definition of Free Cultural Works.

— The Open Definition[5]

See also


  1. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (June 16, 1999). "Open Source Certification". Open Source Initiative. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  2. ^ Kelty, Christpher M. (2008). "The Cultural Significance of free Software – Two Bits" (PDF). Duke University Press. p. 99. Prior to 1998, Free Software referred either to the Free Software Foundation (and the watchful, micromanaging eye of Stallman) or to one of thousands of different commercial, avocational, or university-research projects, Processes, licenses, and ideologies that had a variety of names: sourceware, freeware, shareware, open software, public domain software, and so on. The term Open Source, by contrast, sought to encompass them all in one movement.
  3. ^ "Categories of free and nonfree software". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  4. ^ Davies, Tim (April 12, 2014). "Data, information, knowledge and power – exploring Open Knowledge's new core purpose". Tim's Blog. Retrieved November 18, 2017.
  5. ^ "Open Definition 2.1". The Open Definition. Retrieved November 18, 2017.

External links

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von Source


ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software

ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software (TOMS) is a quarterly scientific journal that aims to disseminate the latest findings of note in the field of numeric, symbolic, algebraic, and geometric computing applications. It has been published since March 1975 by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

The journal is described as follows on the ACM Digital Library page:

ACM Transactions on Mathematical Software (TOMS) documents the theoretical underpinnings of numeric, symbolic, algebraic, and geometric computing applications. It focuses on analysis and construction of algorithms and programs, and the interaction of programs and architecture. Algorithms documented in TOMS are available as the Collected Algorithms of the ACM in print, on microfiche, on disk, and online.

The purpose was first stated by its founding editor, Professor John Rice, in the inaugural issue. The decision to found the journal came out of the 1970 Mathematical Software Symposium at Purdue University, also organized by Rice, who negotiated with both SIAM and the ACM regarding its publication.Algorithms described in the transactions are generally published in Collected Algorithms. Algorithms published in Collected Algorithms since 1975 (and some earlier ones) are available.

Authors publishing in ACM TOMS "are required to transfer the copyright to ACM upon acceptance of the algorithm for publication",[1] and ACM subsequently distributes the software under the ACM Software License Agreement, which is free of charge for noncommercial use only. (This restriction means that ACM TOMS software is not Free and open-source software according to The Free Software Definition or The Open Source Definition.)

The current co-Editors-in-Chief are Zhaojun Bai (University of California, Davis) and Wolfgang Bangerth (Colorado State University).

Bruce Perens

Bruce Perens (born around 1958) is an American computer programmer and advocate in the free software movement. He created The Open Source Definition and published the first formal announcement and manifesto of open source. He co-founded the Open Source Initiative (OSI) with Eric S. Raymond.In 2005, Perens represented Open Source at the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society, at the invitation of the United Nations Development Programme. He has appeared before national legislatures and is often quoted in the press, advocating for open source and the reform of national and international technology policy.

Perens is also an amateur radio operator, with call sign K6BP. He promotes open radio communications standards and open-source hardware.In 2016 Perens, along with Boalt Hall (Berkeley Law) professor Lothar Determann, co-authored "Open Cars" which appeared in the Berkeley Technology Law Journal.

In 2018 Perens founded the Open Research Institute (ORI), a non-profit research and development organization to address technologies involving Open Source, Open Hardware, Open Standards, Open Content, and Open Access to Research. ORI facilitate worldwide collaboration in the development of technology that would otherwise be restricted under national laws like ITAR and EAR.

Debian Free Software Guidelines

The Debian Free Software Guidelines (DFSG) is a set of guidelines that the Debian Project uses to determine whether a software license is a free software license, which in turn is used to determine whether a piece of software can be included in Debian. The DFSG is part of the Debian Social Contract.

Debian Social Contract

The Debian Social Contract (DSC) is a document that frames the moral agenda of the Debian project. The values outlined in the Social Contract provide the basic principles for the Debian Free Software Guidelines that serve as the basis of the Open Source Definition.

Debian believes the makers of a free software operating system should provide guarantees when a user entrusts them with control of a computer. These guarantees include:

Ensuring that the operating system remains open and free.

Giving improvements back to the community that made the operating system possible.

Not hiding problems with the software or organization.

Staying focused on the users and the software that started the phenomenon.

Making it possible for the software to be used with non-free software.

Fork (software development)

In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct and separate piece of software. The term often implies not merely a development branch, but also a split in the developer community, a form of schism.Free and open-source software is that which, by definition, may be forked from the original development team without prior permission, without violating copyright law. However, licensed forks of proprietary software (e.g. Unix) also happen.

Free content

Free content, libre content, or free information, is any kind of functional work, work of art, or other creative content that meets the definition of a free cultural work.

Free license

A free license or open license is a license agreement which contains provisions that allow other individuals to reuse another creator's work, giving them four major freedoms. Without a special license, these uses are normally prohibited by copyright law or commercial license. Most free licenses are worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and perpetual (see copyright durations). Free licenses are often the basis of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding projects.

The invention of the term "free license" and the focus on the rights of users were connected to the sharing traditions of the hacker culture of the 1970s public domain software ecosystem, the social and political free software movement (since 1980) and the open source movement (since the 1990s). These rights were codified by different groups and organizations for different domains in Free Software Definition, Open Source Definition, Debian Free Software Guidelines, Definition of Free Cultural Works and the The Open Definition. These definitions were then transformed into licenses, using the copyright as legal mechanism. Since then, ideas of free/open licenses spread into different spheres of society.

Open source, free culture (unified as free and open-source movement), anticopyright, Wikimedia Foundation projects, public domain advocacy groups and pirate parties are connected with free and open licenses.


GoldED was a popular message editor for FidoNet-compatible computer networks.

In 1998, Odinn Sørensen released the source code of GoldED and Goldware Utilities 3.x under GNU General Public License version 2, and the Goldware Library under GNU Library General Public License version 2. A permission has also been given to link that all with software conforming with the Open Source Definition.

The code of one of the libraries used by GoldED and GoldED+, CXL, has been licensed by Sørensen from its author, Mike Smedley. Since then the copyright has been taken over by “Innovative Data Concepts”, which, as Sørensen suspected in 1998, has disappeared. This was one of the reasons for removing the goldedplus package from Debian repositories in 2006.By 1999, all the developers of GoldED left FidoNet.

Java Research License

The Java Research License (JRL) is a software distribution license created by Sun in an effort to simplify and relax the terms from the "research section" of the Sun Community Source License. Sun's J2SE 1.6.0, Mustang, is licensed under the JRL as well as many projects at

Although the JRL has elements of an open source license, the terms forbid any commercial use and are thus incompatible with both the Free Software Definition and the Open Source Definition. The JRL is a research license to be used for non-commercial academic uses.

List of free and open-source software packages

This is a list of free and open-source software packages, computer software licensed under free software licenses and open-source licenses. Software that fits the Free Software Definition may be more appropriately called free software; the GNU project in particular objects to their works being referred to as open-source. For more information about the philosophical background for open-source software, see free software movement and Open Source Initiative. However, nearly all software meeting the Free Software Definition also meets the Open Source Definition and vice versa. A small fraction of the software that meets either definition is listed here.

Some of the open-source applications are also the basis of commercial products, shown in the List of commercial open-source applications and services.

MirOS Licence

The MirOS Licence is a free content licence (for software and other free cultural works such as graphical, literal, musical, …) originated at The MirOS Project for their own publications because the ISC license used by OpenBSD was perceived as having problems with wording and too America centric. It has strong roots in the UCB BSD licence and the Historical Permission Notice and Disclaimer with a focus on modern, explicit, legible language and usability by European (except UK), specifically German, authors (while not hindering adoption by authors from other legislations). It is a permissive (“BSD/MIT-style”) licence.

Another novelty is that this licence was specified for any kind of copyrightable work from the start; as such, it not only meets the Open Source Definition and Debian Free Software Guidelines but also the Open Knowledge Definition and, in fact, has been approved by the OKFN long before OSI did.The licence has not seen formal legal review, but is listed on ifrOSS’ licence centre webpages. The Free Software Foundation has not formally added the licence as either a free software licence or Free Documentation License to their pages, but their software directory has a category for it.The license was accepted as a free content license according to the Free Cultural Works definition.

Open-source-software movement

The open-source-software movement is a movement that supports the use of open-source licenses for some or all software, a part of the broader notion of open collaboration. The open-source movement was started to spread the concept/idea of open-source software.

Programmers who support the open-source-movement philosophy contribute to the open-source community by voluntarily writing and exchanging programming code for software development. The term "open source" requires that no one can discriminate against a group in not sharing the edited code or hinder others from editing their already-edited work. This approach to software development allows anyone to obtain and modify open-source code. These modifications are distributed back to the developers within the open-source community of people who are working with the software. In this way, the identities of all individuals participating in code modification are disclosed and the transformation of the code is documented over time. This method makes it difficult to establish ownership of a particular bit of code but is in keeping with the open-source-movement philosophy. These goals promote the production of high-quality programs as well as working cooperatively with other similarly-minded people to improve open-source technology. This led to software such as MediaWiki, the software with which the Wikipedia website is built.

Open-source software

Open-source software (OSS) is a type of computer software in which source code is released under a license in which the copyright holder grants users the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner. Open-source software is a prominent example of open collaboration.Open-source software development generates an increasingly more diverse scope of design perspective than any company is capable of developing and sustaining long term. A 2008 report by the Standish Group stated that adoption of open-source software models have resulted in savings of about $60 billion (£48 billion) per year for consumers.

Open knowledge

Open knowledge is knowledge that one is free to use, reuse, and redistribute without legal, social or technological restriction. Open knowledge is a set of principles and methodologies related to the production and distribution of how knowledge works in an open manner. Knowledge is interpreted broadly to include data, content and general information.

The concept is related to open source and the Open Knowledge Definition is directly derived from the Open Source Definition. Open knowledge can be seen as being a superset of open data, open content and libre open access with the aim of highlighting the commonalities between these different groups.

Open music

Open music is music that is shareable, available in "source code" form, allows derivative works and is free of cost for non-commercial use. It is the concept of "open source" computer software applied to music. However, the non-commercial stipulation associated with Open Music is incompatible with the first section of the Open Source Definition as well as the first freedom put forth in The Free Software Definition (freedom 0). Open Music is one of the general responses to the RIAA's and governmental actions against the music industry and its consumers.

"Open music" can be considered a subset of "free music" (referring to freedom). The differences of philosophy between advocates of "open source software" and "free software" have not surfaced in the community of musicians contributing music to the copyleft commons. This may be due to the relatively recent emergence of copyleft music, as well as to the fact that software development generally involves much more collaboration and derivatization than does music production. It is not clear that open collaboration using copyleft licenses provides any significant advantages in music production, as open source advocates commonly argue is the case for software development.

Several websites have surfaced to provide musicians with the platform and tools necessary for online music collaboration. Most of these sites promote one or more of the Creative Commons licenses, allowing derivative works and sharing of the finished songs. Early implementations of these collaboration sites relied on threaded discussion forum software and FTP to provide a means for musicians to initiate and discuss projects, and to share multi-track files. More recent and modern sites provide robust project-management features, automatic encoding and compression, online playback streaming, web-based upload and download options, chat, and project-based discussion forums.

There are plenty of artists that use Creative Commons Licenses. One the most open licence is "Creative Commons Attribution" License.

Shared Source Initiative

The Shared Source Initiative (SSI) is a source-available software licensing scheme launched by Microsoft in May 2001. The program includes a spectrum of technologies and licenses, and most of its source code offerings are available for download after eligibility criteria are met.


StarLogo is an agent-based simulation language developed by Mitchel Resnick, Eric Klopfer, and others at MIT Media Lab and MIT Scheller Teacher Education Program in Massachusetts. It is an extension of the Logo programming language, a dialect of Lisp. Designed for education, StarLogo can be used by students to model the behavior of decentralized systems.

The first StarLogo ran on a Connection Machine 2 parallel computer. A subsequent version ran on Macintosh computers; this version became known later as MacStarLogo (and now is called MacStarLogo Classic). The current StarLogo is written in Java and works on most computers.

StarLogo is also available in a version called OpenStarLogo. The source code for OpenStarLogo is available online, although the license under which it is released is not an open source license according to the Open Source Definition, because of restrictions on the commercial use of the code.

StarLogo TNG (The Next Generation) version 1.0 was released in July 2008. It provides a 3D world using OpenGL graphics and a block-based graphical language to increase ease of use and learnability. It is written in C and Java. StarLogo TNG uses "blocks" to put together puzzle-like pieces. StarLogo TNG reads the blocks in the order you fit them together, and sets the program in the Spaceland view.

StarLogo is a primary influence for the Kedama particle system, programmed by Yoshiki Oshima, found in the Etoys educational programming environment and language, which can be viewed as a Logo done originally in Squeak Smalltalk.

The Free Software Definition

The Free Software Definition written by Richard Stallman and published by Free Software Foundation (FSF), defines free software as being software that ensures that the end users have freedom in using, studying, sharing and modifying that software. The term "free" is used in the sense of "free speech," not of "free of charge." The earliest-known publication of the definition was in the February 1986 edition of the now-discontinued GNU's Bulletin publication of FSF. The canonical source for the document is in the philosophy section of the GNU Project website. As of April 2008, it is published there in 39 languages. FSF publishes a list of licences which meet this definition.

The Open Definition

The Open Definition is a document published by Open Knowledge International (OKI) (previously the Open Knowledge Foundation) to define openness in relation to data and content. It specifies what licences for such material may and may not stipulate, in order to be considered open licences. The definition itself was derived from the Open Source Definition for software.OKI summarise the document as:

Open means anyone can freely access, use, modify, and share for any purpose (subject, at most, to requirements that preserve provenance and openness).

The latest form of the document, published in November 2015, is version 2.1. The use of language in the document is conformant with RFC 2119.The document is available under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which itself meets the Open Definition.

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