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Encyclopedia > Closed source software
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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, because the usual way to modify a program is to edit its source code and then compile it.

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.

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 openness of this hacker culture, and thus it came as an unpleasant surprise when more and more skilled programmers left academia to found their own companies and market their software, no longer giving their peers source code access.

Richard Stallman saw restrictions on sharing source code as a step backwards in terms of user freedom and founded the GNU project in the mid 1980s. The GNU GPL allows licensees to pass along copies, provided they include source code, and prevents freely-developed code from being taken proprietary.

Closed source still dominates commercial software development, but in the last few years through the success of open source projects like Linux, KDE, and Apache, corporate thinking has undergone a transformation.

Today, some corporations have recognized that closed and open source projects can complement each other, as is evidenced for instance by Sun Microsystems' move to develop their office suite, StarOffice, in parallel with its open source incarnation, OpenOffice.org. This is seen as a gain for corporate image and may be a good way to attract new talent.

  Results from FactBites:
Open vs. Closed Source Software (1529 words)
The reasons for writing open source software range from those who have a passion for computing and who want to contribute to make a difference to those who do not like having to rely on any single company to produce what is needed.
Open source software and its authors are legally protected by the GPL (General Public Licence).
Unlike closed source software, the software is normally provided without warranty and you have no recourse should the software malfunction or not perform, there is also no guarantee of good documentation or support.
Closed source - Simple English Wikipedia (144 words)
Closed source (or proprietary) software is the opposite of Open source.
Closed source software does not give others access to the source code of the software.
Closed source software is often considered less secure that open source software, however this is not always the case.
  More results at FactBites »



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