In the past, open source is often viewed as a free software. Well, that's in the past. The main difference between a free software and open source is the availability of the source code. Open Source software allows people to make changes to the software and they are freely distributed. If we think about the last statement for a while we can understand that these ideas form some of the most amazing projects around today as it not only gives the program the benefit of developers being able to add new elements, but also the ability to tune and optimize its existence.
It is because of these reasons that we see great software available for free such as Mozilla Firefox. Where as it is completely free to distribute there is an organization formed of volunteers to regulate these creations. Whereas the source code is regulated by some of the organization so as not to see it take steps backwards in development terms, it leaves the door open to massive opportunity in terms of growth. Many people may think that open source software is something that is relatively young but its history stems back more that four decades and its journey is one of the longest in the history of software. From some extensive research I discovered that it was in the 1960's IBM and others were starting to sell large scale commercial computers that came with free software where the source code could be modified and improved. As proprietary firms then started to stop free distribution of software and start charging users for it, it then led to the foundations of the current open source movement that we know today being formed by two groups in the late 70's and early 80's.
In the East Coast of America, one group was found. Soon another group was also founded in the West Coast. A programmer named Richard Stallman worked for MIT artificial intelligence decided to quit his position and start the GNU project and the free software foundation. Their ultimate aim was to create an operating system that is free.
This then led them to designing the GNU General Public License that was used as a legal implication so that it ensured that the software would always remain free. This license was used to promote the development of more software that are free. Richard Stallman then went on to write the GNU manifesto that stated the availability of source code and the freedom to modify and re-distribute it are fundamental rights. Respectively on the west coast the computer science research group were improving the UNIX system which then went on to become "BSD Unix". If we move on swiftly to the 1980's and 90's the scene then started to change immensely as strong user communities were built using USENET and the Internet.
Open source has continued in this development in various groups. As a result of the user communities it led to the software that had been developed being merged and integrated which resulted in complete environments being able to be built on top of UNIX using open source software. As we move into the early 1990s a student from Finland was implementing the first prototype of the Linux system.
This move caused many people to work together and make the system more usable for the mainstream. After a while, the GNU/Linux operating system was born. These are the events which changed the model of open source so that we can enjoy the projects of today for free. What an amazing journey open source is and even more fascinating is that fact that it has enriched to world of information technology and our lives immensely.
Learn more about Open Source and the various applications that runs on Open Source. Check it out at ==> http://www.osdw.org