Open source software is computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license that meets the Open Source Definition. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. For the history of the open source movement see Wikipedia:
The benefits of Open Source Software include, in summary, faster development, faster resolution of bugs, better security, future proofing and freedom from vendor lock-in, as well as the ability to examine and modify the source code.
One article that discusses these benefits can be found in PC World, Nov 5 2010. Another, perhaps a little dated now but still pertinent, is at http://open-source.gbdirect.co.uk/migration/benefit.html . For more articles, type ‘benefits of open source software’ into Google. Major players in open source in Australia include iconic business names such as IBM, Red Hat, Santos and Suncorp. For information about the Open Source Industry in Australia, see: http://osia.com.au .
Koha is a leading example of a successful open source project. Based at http://koha-community.org, Koha is actively maintained by librarians and software professionals from around the world. Koha operates in conjunction with industry-leading free open source tools including the Linux operating system , the Apache web server , the MySQL data base and the Perl programming language
Open source is increasingly the solution of choice in the library sector. The National Library of Australia used open source to develop Trove (www.trove.nla.gov.au) and considers open source solutions equally with other forms of software when procuring systems (NLA ‘IT Architecture Project Report’ March 2007).