The Open Source Software Initiative
What is Open Source?
The term open source software or OSS,refers to software in which the source code is freely available to all.The Open Source Initiative incorporates certain distinguished feautures as:
1.The Software and the source code has to be freely distributable.
2. Everyone has the permission to modify the source code and create derived works.
3. The license is as such that it could be modified to maintain the integrity of the original's developer work.
The Free Software Movement
The ethical importance of Open Source Software has a lot to do with the Free Software Movement.The philosophical principles of the OSS were laid by the Free Software Movement which initiated the GNU project leading to the formation of the "FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION".According to it software is free if it has the following characteristics:
1. The software must be freely executable for any purpose.
2.The source code must be freely available so that others can study how it works.
3.The Software must be freely redistributable.
4. Everyone is free to modify the software.
The Advent of LINUX into the computing world
The Free Software Foundation, now more than a couple of decades old emphasized in the development of Unix like operating system which was then available to only a few bunch of people.It began writing replacement tools for UNIX.To advance their ideas of software freedom,they created and put their software under the General Public License that enforces the principles of the FREE SOFTWARE FOUNDATION.
It was during this time that a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds from Finland developed the most fundamental part of an operating system i.e the Kernel and it was released under the GPL( General Public License ).Torvalds kernel was to become a professional kernel held in the highest regard in the computing world today.Linus Torvald's kernel, along with the tools from the GNU project and elements from other open source projects makes up the core of a complete stable Operating System named as "Linux".
The OSes based on the Linux Kernel are called as Linux Distributions.Some of the widely used Linux Distributions are REDHAT,UBUNTU,CENTOS,FEDORA,MANDRIVA.Among those REDHAT has a tremendous role in "mission critical" tasks.Almost every major institutions be it be the Financial Stock Exchanges around the Globe or the high-end Servers of the Government organisations are deployed under Linux OSes and REDHAT has a major share of those OSes and the core reason behind it are its unique security features.In other words it can be concluded that Linux plays a pivotal role in the modern computing world!