Open Source and Creative Commons Overview

What exactly is “open source”? Open source is material that is freely available for distribution, modification, must allow future modifications, and is not for profit. Hardware and software are both available as open source; this article addresses software. Anyone who uses open source must, in turn, make it freely available.

There are many reasons that individuals create and contribute to open source projects. Many individuals believe in the open source philosophy and sharing knowledge, it promotes involvement in a technological community, it can be a way to advertise personal resumes, and sometimes is a way for a contributor to claim “bragging rights”.

Open source is available as operating systems, software applications, software libraries, photos, graphical images, sounds, videos, and is spreading into any area available through digital media and electronic technologies.

So where can you find open source and what are the “rules”?
Rules for educational institutions and non-profit agencies may be different than commercial enterprises. Etiquette suggests that you include credit for the original author/creator/developer and is sometimes required. In turn, you must freely share any open source material that you have used.

For images, photos, and other digital media, there exists a Creative Commons license; the author grants others the right to copy, distribute, and modify the work, as long as the author is credited. You need to carefully view the Creative Commons license for any media that you use, some licenses are more restrictive than others.

Of course, care should always be taken from downloading anything from the web. Take proper precautions to avoid downloading and/or installing computer viruses.

PLEASE NOTE: the links below are provided for your reference. Northeastern University does not own or manage any of the content on the webpages listed below, and therefore is not liable for any unsupported software.

Linux Open Source:
Ubuntu Linux-based operating system
Fedora Linux-based operating system
Open Source Software
SourceForge An open source software development web site
Specialty software:
Virtual Box Virtual systems
Cygwin/X X terminal
OpenOffice Word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more
Open Source Mac Free and open-source software for Mac
Open Source GIS  
GIMP GNU Image Manipulation Program
Mozilla Firefox Browser
Mozilla Thunderbird E-mail client
MediaWiki Used for Wikipedia
Filezilla FTP software
Cyberduck FTP for Mac OS X
Pidgin Instant Message client for Windows
Adium Instant Message client for Mac OS X
Mplayer Video player
VideoLAN VLC Media player
Notepad2 A small, fast and free text editor with syntax highlighting for HTML and other common languages.
Wikimedia Commons A database of freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute.
Flickr Creative Commons Many Flickr users have chosen to offer their work under a Creative Commons license, and you can browse or search through content under each type of license.
(view the key to find out the Creative Commons license for the photo/image)
MorgueFile Free images for your inspiration, reference and use in your creative work, be it commercial or not! (read the license)
Copyright Friendly Wikispace Copyright-Friendly and Copyleft Images and Sound (Mostly!)
for Use in Media Projects and Web Pages, Blogs, Wikis, etc.
The Freesound Project A collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds (not songs).
Open Source Cinema Videos
Audacity The Free, Cross-Platform Sound Editor
Internet Archive Digital books, music, images, and Wayback Machine
Web Design
W3C Open Source Software Open source software for the web community
Open Source Web Design Free web design templates
Open Source Templates Free website templates
Content Management Systems (CMS) / Bloggers
Plone CMS using python
Posted in 2010 October IS Newsletter and tagged , .