Open Source software (OSS) is technically defined as software whose source code is available to the public, or "open". OSS differs from proprietary software in that it is not owned by anyone, does not require a fee to use, and may be altered and redistributed by anyone as long as they redistribute it under the same terms. Successful OSS projects are not created by releasing free source code; they are created through the growth of communities of shared interest.
Over the last few years the concept open source has gained currency within the geospatial community. However, although the geospatial community has already made huge strides towards OSS that can truly compete with proprietary software, many geospatial end-users still shy away from using OSS due to the lack of formal support and a fear of new technology. As such, a considerable degree of potential innovative geospatial projects based on OSS is left unexploited.
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