What is it?
The term open source can apply to a number of endeavours, but is most commonly applied to software. It means that the design of the software is not specifically owned by one person or company but is available for all to use. More importantly it can be worked on and improved by anyone, making it progressively better. The various versions of the Linux operating system are open source, as are many full-featured application packages such as Open Office. They cost nothing except for the disc or book they come with.
How does it work?
Open source works by enthusiasts using and improving it and sharing their comments and discoveries with other users. Even large commercial software companies support and encourage some open source software development.
What do you need to keep in mind about your child and open source software?
There are many advantages. It's free, it's readily available for download, is usually of good quality, and its use can encourage children to learn to develop their own programming skills.