Open Source software differs from proprietary software in many important ways. First, open source software is obtainable free of cost. Second, open source software projects have different support options. Third, the source code is available and therefore modifiable and subject to intense scrutiny. Fourth, open source projects rely on a different business model. Each of these differences can ultimately be either an advantage or disadvantage to the end user.
|Cost||Mostly available for a fee||Must be free to use, modify, and redistribute|
|Support||Support provided by the vendor at a cost.||Community of users and developers|
|Ownership of Source code||Organization that created it||Free, no ownership|
|Modifications of Source code||Only organization/creator can modify||Free, anyone can modify|
|Copyright||Licensed; typically for a fee||Licensed; typically for a fee|
The diagram below from the GNU Operating System website displays different categories of free and non-free software.
E-mail the HealthIT e-mail box: email@example.com