This chapter discusses various ways that open source software (OSS) methods of software development interact with the corporate world. The success achieved by many OSS products has produced a range of effects on the corporate world, and likewise, the corporate world influences the success of OSS. Many times, OSS products provide a quality product with strong support, providing competition to the corporate model of proprietary software. OSS has presented the corporate world with opportunities and ideas, prompting some companies to implement components from the OSS business model. Others have formed companies to support and distribute OSS products. The corporate world, in turn, affects OSS, from funding labs where OSS is developed to engaging in intellectual property disputes with OSS entities. The consumer of software is sometimes baffled by the differences in the two, often lacking understanding about the two models and how they interact. This chapter clarifies common misconceptions about the relationship between OSS and the corporate world and explains facets of the business models of software design to better inform potential consumers.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Open Source Software (OSS): Software that allows the user to see and alter the source code; closely related to free software.
Free Software (FS): Software that users have the freedom to alter, use, and redistribute, usually under the terms of the General Public License. Closely related to Open Source Software, the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. “Free” is not associated with cost but with the freedom associated with it. However, free software is often cost-free as well.
Proprietary Software (PS): Software that does not allow the user to see or alter the source code.