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How you get the best open source training generally depends on two factors: the rate at which you learn and whether you have prior experience working with open source software. If your employer is switching from fee-based, closed source software and sends you to a workshop or seminar to quickly obtain the specific skills you will need to do your job, that will be the best open source training for you. People who already are comfortable using open source software and learn quickly can expect to get the best open source training by taking college courses. Those who are totally unfamiliar with this type of software and who might need to learn at their own pace tend to do best when they train themselves.
Open source software is a term used to refer to computer applications released under the GNU General Public License, which allows users to view, modify and redistribute the source code. It is commonly called free software, which has caused many people to mistakenly believe that it is always free of charge, but this is not the accurate definition of this type of free software. The word "free" is a reminder that you have freedom with open source programs. These freedoms include not only the liberty to view and customize the source code but also to use the software for commercial purposes and to install it on as many machines as you would like.
If you decide to get open source training by taking college classes, you might be required to enroll in a specific program or declare a major in which open source training is part of the coursework. For example, many students majoring in web design and development must learn open source applications such as the Hypertext Preprocessor language (PHP) and MySQL. Opting to self-train can be very cost effective because it almost always is much cheaper to purchase a book than it is to pay for college credits. It is highly recommended that you read the reviews of the books you are interested in buying, because many computer books are literally riddled with errors. The World Wide Web Consortium, which is responsible for setting web standards, is an excellent free option available for open source training.
Many free software programs are widely used internationally, and others are much less popular. If you need to train to use an unpopular program, you will not have as many sources as you would for the well-known ones. Among the applications that have millions of users is PHP, a versatile language used predominantly in web scripting; MySQL, a database management system often used with PHP; and the OpenOffice suite. The GNU Image Manipulation Program is a free alternative to Photoshop for working with graphics; Pidgin handles Instant Messaging; and Linux is a free Unix-based operating system that can be used in place of Microsoft Windows. Ultimately, the very best open source training involves doing actual work with the programs.