In the late 1990s, as Linux was gaining traction in the marketplace, and as many free software applications and operating systems were available, the movement got another name: open source, describing the open availability ofthe source code. Open source software projects are a digital version of a small-town tradition: the barn raising.
But open source projects can involve people from around the world. Most will never meet except online. Guided by project leaders—Torvalds in the case of Linux—they contribute bits and pieces of what becomes a whole package.
Open source software, in many cases, is as goodas or better than the commercial variety. And these programs are at the heart of the Internet’s most basic functions: open source software powers most of the web server computers that dish out information to our browsers.
When the code is open for inspection, it’s safer to use because people can find and fill the security holes. Bugs, the annoying flaws that cause program crashes and other unexpected behavior, can be found and fixed more easily, too.