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An open source product is free software, including its source code, made available to the general public. Users must be able to obtain, distribute and update an open source program at no cost for it to be considered truly open source. There is disagreement about when the concept of open source software came into the mainstream, but since the source code for Netscape Navigator, an Internet browser, was released as Mozilla in 1998, there has been significant growth in the amount and types of open source products available to the general public.
In addition to open source Internet browsers, web content management systems are another popular open source product available for businesses and individual users. Web content management systems allow users to publish content for their website without having to directly use HTML commands. Users are able to upload documents, videos, movies, audio and a wide variety of other types of files to their websites.
For consumers who don’t like using the most popular operating systems for their computers, there are open source operating systems available for use. These operating systems often include other open source products or features, such as a web browser, an office suite, media applications and instant messaging. As of 2009, newer open source operating systems offer private cloud computing behind a firewall.
Users who wish to explore more specialized open source products can find a number of available options. Some of the most used open source products include word processors, spreadsheets, presentation programs, database management programs and vector graphics editors. These types of open source programs are often bundled into office suite programs.
Other specialized open source products include money and accounting programs that may be used for personal finances or businesses. Artists and designers can find open source graphic design programs and image manipulation programs, while journalists, writers and personal users can find open source blog programs. Additionally, database server and web server programs are available in open source formats.
Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems have been the slowest to reach open source format out of all types of computer software programs. The first open source ERP system was released in 2009, with others in development to be released over the coming years. Businesses use ERP systems to manage all of their internal and external resources, such as assets, human resources, finances and materials. Most ERP systems are custom fit for a specific business and include advanced applications such as customer relationship management, supply chain management, project management and warehouse management.
You can find virtually anything in the open source world and the available software is better than you might expect. In fact, Linux is totally open source and relies on open source software packages. The primary reason it has been adopted as an operating system is because it is top notch stuff and great software is available for it. The fact that Linux and most software for it is free doesn't hurt, either.