What is open source?

“Open source software is an idea whose time has finally come. For twenty years it has been building momentum in the technical cultures that built the Internet and the World Wide Web. Now it’s breaking out into the commercial world, and that’s changing all the rules.” – “Generically, open source refers to a program in which the source code is available to the general public for use and/or modification from its original design free of charge, i.e., open. Open source code is typically created as a collaborative effort in which programmers improve upon the code and share the changes within the community. Open source sprouted in the technological community as a response to proprietary software owned by corporations. ” – “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. We in the open source community have learned that this rapid evolutionary process produces better software than the traditional closed model, in which only a very few programmers can see the source and everybody else must blindly use an opaque block of bits.” –


Where can I find open source projects?

Luckily for us two great websites have been created to help organize the open source community and its projects. At these sites project owners can get space to host their projects, gather volunteers, and share them with the world. Take a look at these sites, if you don’t find what you are looking for then simply start your own. If you want to start your own project then have a look at this famous open source licensing agreement, the GPL. Many open source projects fall under this license.

Some famous open source projects:

The Mozilla project maintains choice and innovation on the Internet by developing the acclaimed, open source, web browser, email suite, and related products and technology. Mozilla is based on the original source code from the Netscape browser. You can choose to download the full Mozilla package which bundles the browser, email client, chat program, etc all into one (Note: Recently Mozilla annouced it will stop new development on the all-in-suite. It will continue to release security fixes for it, but new development is focusing on the stand alone apps).

Download the all-in-one Mozilla package

Or you may choose to download individual projects. I have recently switched over from using the full package to utilizing the FireFox browser and the Thunderbird email client. These are state of the art programs that are far superior to any Microsoft products you are familiar with. FireFox is your Internet Explorer replacement and Thunderbird is your Outlook or Outlook Express replacement.

Download FireFox

Download Thunderbird

MySQL AB develops and markets a family of high performance, affordable database servers and tools. Our mission is to make superior data management available and affordable for all. We contribute to building the mission-critical, high-volume systems and products worldwide. MySQL AB is defining a new database standard. This is based on its dedication to providing a less complicated solution suitable for widespread application deployment at a greatly reduced TCO. MySQL’s robust database solutions embody an ingenious software architecture while delivering dramatic cost savings. With superior speed, reliability, and ease of use, MySQL has become the preferred choice of corporate IT Managers because it eliminates the major problems associated with downtime, maintenance, administration and support. MySQL is a key part of LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Perl / Python), a fast growing open source enterprise software stack. More and more companies are using LAMP as an alternative to expensive proprietary software stacks because of its lower cost and freedom from lock-in. There are currently over 5 million active installations.

Download MySQL

PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development and can be embedded into HTML. This is a great tool for creating web enabled database systems. It’s very popular with online bulletin board / forum systems for this reason. PHP is easily integrated with the MySQL database. It’s a project of the Apache Software Foundation. You’ll see another one of there projects listed on this page as well.

Download PHP

There are a number of good open source development environments for use with PHP. I prefer to use Macromedia Dreamweaver MX. It’s not free or open source, but it has the best built in support for things like drop down boxes, creating databases connections, dynamic result forms, etc.

The Apache HTTP Server Project is an effort to develop and maintain an open-source HTTP server for modern operating systems including UNIX and Windows NT. The goal of this project is to provide a secure, efficient and extensible server that provides HTTP services in sync with the current HTTP standards. Apache has been the most popular web server on the Internet since April of 1996. More than 64% of the web sites on the Internet are using Apache, thus making it more widely used than all other web servers combined. So it’s more popular that Microsoft’s IIS web server? Yes it is.

Download Apache HTTP Server

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