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Next, the term source code refers to one of the two main forms in which a computer program may exist.When a user buys a particular application from a commercial vendor, a word processor, for example, the program typically has a form which is next to unintelligible to human beings but perfect for a computer.The spirit of the license is clearly informed by Stallman's moral philosophy but its unintended consequences go far beyond it.
Then there is what is perhaps the most important piece of software of them all, the operating system.
Unlike applications, which are run to perform a particular task and then closed, an operating system is always running in the background (as long as the computer is turned on) linking all the different devices connected to the computer.
The textbook definition of the problem begins by distinguishing goods which can be consumed only by a given person (or persons), that is, goods which very consumption excludes others from consuming them, and goods that do not possess this property.
Food is an example of the first type, a good which is "rivalrous in consumption", while ideas are an example of the second type: if someone consumes a song or a book, this act by itself does not exclude others from consuming the same song or book, particularly if technologies of duplication and distribution have made the costs of reproduction minimal.
The hacker movement referred to by the term "open-source" has burst into public consciousness in the last few years due to its spectacular success in the production of reliable and robust software.
Perhaps the most obvious symptom of this success is the fact that open-source software in several key areas (operating systems, server software) is the only serious alternative to the domination of the market by large corporations like .
In other words, the programs are distributed in a form that lends itself to further improvement and development by its users.
The term "open-source" was coined to reflect this alternative conception of how software should be produced, an alternative paradigm which is at once evolutionary and collective.
Finally, it is important to distinguish different kinds of software.
Non programmers are familiar mostly with application programs: word processors, accounting spreadsheets, Internet browsers, graphic design tools and so forth.