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Open source describes software that can be inspected, modified and shared by anyone because its source code is publicly accessible. Source code is created by programmers to make software applications and programs perform certain functions. With closed source or proprietary software, only the person or team that creates a program can modify, copy or share its code. With open source software, any programmer has access to the program’s source code and can improve that program by adding features to it or by fixing the parts that may not work with other IT systems. Firefox, Chrome, OpenOffice, Linux and Android are examples of open source software, while Microsoft Windows is probably the most popular closed source software in use. Much of the Internet is built on open source software, including Linux and Apache Web server.

Open source also refers to a software development approach where program design embraces the principles of open exchange, collaboration, community participation, rapid prototyping, transparency and meritocracy. Open source licenses affect the way people can use, study, modify and distribute software. Some open source licenses stipulate that anyone who releases a modified open source program must release the source code for that program with it, often without charging a licensing fee for it. By design, open source software licenses promote collaboration and sharing because they permit other people to make modifications to source code and incorporate those changes into their own projects.

Open source software offers the business benefits of control, security, stability and innovation. Open source software gives users more control because they can examine the code to make sure it’s not doing anything they don’t want it to do, and they can change the parts they don’t like. Because anyone can view and modify open source software, errors or omissions that a program’s original authors missed can be quickly identified and fixed by the open source community. Stability is crucial to long-term development projects, and open source software gives programmers assurance that the software and tools they rely on won’t disappear or be abandoned if the original authors stop working on them. With thousands of independent programmers testing and fixing bugs in the software, open source development provides the potential for more flexible technology and quicker innovation than closed source development. As an open source software company, SUSE continuously improves upon these open source technologies to meet customers’ business requirements: CloudFoundry, OpenStack, Ceph, KVM, Xen, OpenHPC, OpenSUSE, GNOME, OPNFV and many others.