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Open Source GIS 101, Part 1: Defining Open

Not all open source licenses are alike.

Whether using Firefox to browse the web or using LibreOffice to type a research paper, we enjoy an ever increasing pool of powerful, free software applications. Far fewer of us are familiar with the licensing that allows us to freely use and share open source software.

To help clarify concepts of open data, open standards, and open source software, ESRI published an article in last summer’s addition of ArcNews, Defining Open.

Some open source licenses allow their code to be distributed with proprietary software, while others do not. One example is Mac OS X, containing portions derived from FreeBSD. Elements of Linux, licensed under the GPL, will not be found on your Mac.

Far from having an “us versus them” mentality towards open source, ESRI is an active member of the Open Source Community. To keep abreast of their efforts, visit esri.com/opensource.

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