Open source

Updated: 01/18/2023 by Computer Hope
Open source

Open source describes a program or file that can be freely modified by anyone. Open source allows users or organizations to adjust the program's functionality to perform for their specific needs. There are numerous open source licensing agreements a program or file may follow. Therefore, it is best to refer to the appropriate documentation to see what the original developer allows and prohibits.


Licensing agreements are commonly included in the header or footer of a licensed document or the source code of a program.

Should I use "open source" or "open-source" in my writing?

Both "open source" and "open-source" are acceptable and widely used in today's writing. When used as an adjective before a noun, use "open-source" (with a hyphen) in your writing to help prevent confusion. For example, in the sentence "I enjoy using open-source software." the word "open-source" is describing a type of software.

When used as a noun, use "open source" (with no hyphen) in your writing. For example, in the sentence "My software is open source." the use of "open source" is not an attributive adjective and does not require a hyphen.

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