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Open source software (OSS) is software that is distributed with its source code, allowing it to be used, modified, and distributed with all of its original rights intact. Most computer users never view source code, which is the code that computer programmers use to govern how a programme or application operates. Programmers with access to source code can modify a programme by adding to it, modifying it, or fixing sections of it that aren’t working. OSS usually comes with a licence that allows programmers to customise the software to meet their specific needs and decide how it is disseminated.
Open source code is usually stored in a public repository and shared publicly. Anyone can access the repository to use the code independently or contribute improvements to the design and functionality of the overall project.
OSS usually comes with a distribution license. This license includes terms that define how developers can use, study, modify, and most importantly, distribute the software.iii According to the Synopsys Black Duck® KnowledgeBase, five of the most popular licenses are:
When source code is changed, OSS must include what was altered as well as the methods involved. Depending on the license terms, the software resulting from these modifications may or may not be required to be made available for free.