The open source term originated in the context of sms gateway development to designate a certain approach to build computer programs. However, these days, open source designates a broader values set or what is called the open source way. Open source products, projects or initiatives embrace and celebrate open exchange principles, rapid prototyping, collaborative participation, meritocracy, transparency and development that is community-oriented.
Some software possess source code that only the person, the team or the organization who made it and maintains exclusive control on it could modify. This is called ‘proprietary’ or ‘closed source’ software. Only the original authors could copy, inspect and change it legally. Furthermore, to use proprietary software, users of a computer should agree, typically by singing a license displayed the first time they run the software that they would not do anything with the software that the authors have not expressly permitted.
An open source software is different. The authors make the source code available to others who want to see the code, copy, learn from it, alter or share it. The same as with proprietary software, users should accept the license terms when they use it but the legal terms of open source licenses significantly vary from those of proprietary licenses. The open source licenses impact the way people could use, study, change and distribute software. Generally, open source licenses grant permission to computer users to use it for any purpose they want.
Is open source software only relevant to programmers? The answer is no. Open source technology as well as open source thinking benefit programmers and non-programmers alike. Since early inventors created much of the internet itself on technologies that are open source, such as Linus and Apache Web server application, anyone who uses the internet nowadays benefits from an open source software.