What is Open Source?

OSGeo holds a passionate belief in open source as the best way to build software.

Open source starts off with a license that provides royalty free (re)use of software. Next, open source guarantees access to the source code for audit and modification and the ability to redistribute the software with no additional costs.

At OSGeo our projects are freely available under OSI certified open source licenses.

A new way to Geo

Using open source offers greater control than you may be familiar with from proprietary (closed) software. You are no longer tied to per-seat licensing or to a single software vendor. Support is available from an ecosystem of service providers and through community participation.

If you are meeting open source for the first time you will be pleasantly surprised at the selection, innovation and dedication on display. Open source has a long history in our geospatial field, with some of our projects providing decades of dependable service!

While we understand many visitors are initially looking for technology, open source provides far more than just software – it provides freedom and a chance to join a team!

Open Source

Each open source project team may choose a license with few restrictions, or a license that includes an obligation to share improvements.

  • Permissive Licenses focus on providing software with few restrictions
  • Protective Licenses include an obligation to share improvements

The Open Source Initiative (opensource.org) maintains a list of open source licenses, and confirms these licenses convey the freedoms required for open source to be successful. Out of this list the organization lists several “popular” licenses:

The Free Software Foundation (fsf.org) are proponents of “free an open” source software, which adds additional obligations to share improvements.

Open Geospatial

The Open Source Geospatial Foundation advocates the use of Open Source to better serve our field. We also have many members who are also passionate about the importance of the Free and Open approach to more fairly leverage the wealth of geospatial information available today.

OSGeo is pleased to be at the forefront of the shift towards open geospatial:

  • Open Data applies the principles of free and open to geospatial data. This is more than publishing information for free access – open data provides a mechanism for participants to contribute change back as equal partners in data collection and review.
  • Open Education applies the principles of open source to the creation of teaching materials allowing organizations to share syllabus materials reducing cost and reaching a wider audience.
  • Open Science combines these ideas to better realize research objectives, by both sharing the data used to support a conclusion, alongside the open source software used for analysis.
  • Open Standards promote interoperability between applications, organizations and fields of endeavour. Open standard are a key tool allowing geospatial practitioners to work together, with the added benefit of avoiding technology lock-in.

Together these approaches define a new way of addressing the world’s needs. OSGeo is pleased to celebrate our members, partners and friends shaping this future!

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