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An open source alternative is some type of software or programming utilizes source code that is freely available to the general public. The wide availability of the source code makes it possible for anyone to modify the code for use in a wide range of applications. The idea behind an open source approach is to encourage collaboration on further developing the products created with the code, through what is known as an open source community.
The utilization of various open source alternative solutions has led to the development of a number of different types of electronic products. Several of the more popular search engines used around the world are the result of open source collaborations. Web servers have also been created using an open source approach. There are even examples of word processing software, spreadsheet creators, and presentation software that began life as an open source alternative to expensive products that are considered proprietary.
Proponents of the concept of open source alternative development point to the benefits of involving all sorts of resources in the effort. Along with companies, individuals can also be involved with a given open source community. Testing, modification of the code to add additional features, and the release of new versions can all be accomplished quickly, due to this combination of varied resources. As with any development project, the management of an open source alternative product requires oversight by a program manager, if the project is to stay on target and develop its full potential.
For consumers, an open source alternative means the ability to enjoy software options that are freely shared, with no cost involved. Since many of these open source offerings can match or even exceed the functionality and efficiency of similar software products that cost a great deal of money, interest in open source products has increased significantly over the last decade. Students and others with limited financial resources can make use of open source office suites, accounting systems, and other electronic communication tools.
In many cases, it is possible to download open source products directly from the Internet. A few sponsors of various open source alternative products also provide the software on CDs, usually for a modest charge that covers the cost of the CD and any shipping fees involved. Users are often invited to take part in the further development of the products by sharing their experiences with the versions they use, and making recommendations regarding features they would like to see added to future releases of the product.