Applying open-source principles

Although open-source software has, strictly speaking, only been available for less than ten years, it has resulted in products that rival mainstream packages and operating systems from the world's leading software houses. Now, as Paul Stevens reports, open-source principles are being applied in several ambitious automotive projects.

Open-source is a term most commonly applied to software and it refers to a set of principles and practices whereby the design and production information is shared openly, without the normal restrictions encountered when developing software within a commercial environment where intellectual property is closely guarded.

Open-source software is therefore developed by individuals working incrementally or by groups of individuals working collaboratively and concurrently. One of the key enablers behind open-source software has been the internet, which makes sharing information so much easier. Firefox, and Linux are three examples of open-source software, and Wikipedia is perhaps the best known application of open-source principles.