A project where the source code is available to look at. You may still have to pay a fee to view it. GNU Public Licence copyleft is the most common type.
To be considered open source, the license for use must permit at least modification and reuse of the source, perhaps subject to certain conditions, but not costing money. The source must be either explicitly or implictly part of every distribution and the source itself is either included or readily available at no cost. You may charge for the software, but you may not charge extra for the source.
Legally it would be software distributed under one of the OSI opensource licenses.
Some of the better known Java open source projects include: JOS, Kaffe (free virtual machine), GNU and the Java language, GCC for Java, GNU Classpath (free Java libraries), J-Emacs, Intel Open Runtime Platform, XML-projects of the Apache group (mostly Java based), Tomcat.
The advantages to the customer of open source are:
One problem with open source is that the military likes it. They can inspect the code. They can add secure extensions. If you write open source software with the usual licences, you are behaving like the plumber at Auschwitz. To avoid this, I mark my software non-military use only.
OSI (Open Software Initiative) provides an open source agreement that gives more freedom than GPL (Gnu Public Licence).
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