Closed source

From Academic Kids

Closed source is a term invented as an antonym for open source and used to refer to any program whose licensing terms do not qualify as open source. Generally, it means that the customer will only get a binary version of the computer program they licensed and no copy of the program's source code, rendering modifications to the software practically impossible from the technical side. The source code in this development model is regarded a trade secret of the company, so parties that may get source code access, such as colleges, have to sign non-disclosure agreements in advance.

The term may also refer to programs whose source code is available, but under conditions that conflict with the Open Source Definition. Microsoft's "shared source" initative is the most prominent example of this.

Much of academic and scientific programming is based on free interchange of source code, as scientists freely share materials and methods in order to replicate experiments. People like Richard Stallman were used to the open nature of this hacker culture, and it came as an unpleasant surprise when skilled programmers left academia to found their own companies and market their software, no longer giving their peers source code access. Stallman saw this a step backwards in terms of user freedom and founded the GNU project in the mid 1980s. His GNU GPL allows licensees to pass along copies, including derived works, provided they include source code. It specifically prevents freely-developed code from ever being used in closed source software.

Closed source still dominates commercial software development, but in the last few years through the success of a few open source projects like Linux, KDE, and Apache, corporate thinking has undergone a minor transformation, with some corporations deciding that closed and open source projects can complement each other. One example is Sun Microsystems' move to develop their office suite, StarOffice, in parallel with its open source incarnation, This is seen as a gain for corporate image and may be a good way to attract new talent.

See also

es:Código cerrado


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