Open Software Foundation


The Open Software Foundation (OSF) was a not-for-profit organization founded in 1988 to create an open standard for the implementation of operating system software. Its main goal was to develop an industry-standard, open operating system to counter the perceived threat of proprietary Unix. Among its significant contributions, the OSF’s most notable is the OSF/Motif graphical user interface (GUI) that was utilized in Unix systems.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Open Software Foundation” is: “OH-puhn SOFT-ware foun-DAY-shun”.

Key Takeaways

Main Takeaways about Open Software Foundation

  1. The Open Software Foundation, aka OSF, is a consortium that was developed in 1988 with the goal to create and promote an open software environment. The foundation aimed to create a Unix-based operating system that independent of its particular manufacturer.
  2. OSF was merged with X/Open in 1996 to form The Open Group. This combination led the Open Group to create a solitary, consolidated open operating system, merging UNIX systems with OSF/1 to form a single specification called UNIX 95.
  3. Despite the ending of the original OSF project, the principles and goals live on through The Open Group, who still actively works towards promoting open, vendor-neutral technology systems and certifying conformance to its standards.


The Open Software Foundation (OSF) was an important milestone in the domain of technology since it provided a platform that promoted cooperation and standardization in the open-source software community. It was established in the late 1980s as a response to the proprietary Unix systems that were prevalent at the time, with a vision to create a single, standard version of the Unix operating system. This was a proactive shift towards fostering open standards, interoperability, and shared innovation efforts which would shape the future of software development. In promoting open source software solutions, the OSF played a crucial role in the evolution of the software industry, enabling better access to high-quality and cost-effective software resources for developers and end-users.


Open Software Foundation (OSF), now known as The Open Group, was established in 1988 with the primary purpose of developing an open and standardized UNIX operating system to counteract the proprietary UNIX system being developed by AT&T. It was formed by a consortium of technology companies including IBM, DEC, HP and others as a part of the “UNIX wars”. The aim was to provide software that was universally accessible and could be freely used, redistributed and modified, therefore, promoting software interoperability and an open computing environment.Open Software Foundation ensured that commercial software developers had the technical specifications required to develop software applications that could run on multiple versions of the UNIX operating system, expanding their customer base. Their projects like Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) and Distributed Management Environment (DME) aimed to provide a comprehensive set of distributed computing tools and techniques. DCE, for example, included components like Remote Procedure Call (RPC), Directory Service, Security Service, Time Service, as well as distributed file system (DFS). These components helped in creation of secure, efficient and robust networked applications. Today, thanks to the groundwork laid by OSF, many technology applications are built on open-source principles, allowing for more collaboration and innovation in the software industry.


1. Apache HTTP Server: The Apache HTTP Server, colloquially called Apache, is an open-source cross-platform web server software. It was developed and maintained by an open community of developers under the auspices of the Apache Software Foundation. As of September 2020, it remains the most commonly used web server software according to W3Techs, commanding a 34.1% market share.2. Python Software Foundation: Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. The design philosophy emphasizes code readability with its use of significant indentation. Python is managed and directed by the Python Software Foundation. It is open-source, meaning, the source code is available for the public to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.3. Open Software Foundation’s Distributed Computing Environment (DCE): The DCE was developed in the 1990s by the Open Software Foundation (OSF), now known as the Open Group. It is a set of programming tools and software that enable software to be developed for distributed computing, which is computing done over a network where processing may occur on one or more machines. DCE includes a remote procedure call (RPC) mechanism, directory services, security services, a time service, and a scalable and secure mechanism for distributed file sharing.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q1: What is the Open Software Foundation (OSF)?A1: The Open Software Foundation was a not-for-profit organization founded in 1988 as a response to the perceived threat of proprietary Unix. It was formed to create an open standard for an implementation of the UNIX operating system.Q2: What was the primary objective of the Open Software Foundation?A2: The primary objective of the OSF was to standardize the divergence in Unix-based systems by establishing a common reference standard for Unix.Q3: Who were the original sponsors of the Open Software Foundation?A3: The original sponsors of the Open Software Foundation included IBM, HP, Apollo Computer, Groupe Bull, and Siemens AG.Q4: What was the primary product of the OSF?A4: The primary product of the OSF was OSF/1, a Unix-based operating system.Q5: Did the Open Software Foundation develop any technologies that are still used today?A5: Yes, the OSF created the Distributed Computing Environment (DCE) and the Motif graphical widget toolkit. Both of these technologies have influenced present-day computing.Q6: Is the Open Software Foundation still operational?A6: No, the Open Software Foundation merged with X/Open to form The Open Group in 1996.Q7: What role did OSF play in software governance?A7: OSF played a significant role in promoting open standards and non-proprietary software, which helped shape the software governance landscape.Q8: How was OSF/1 operating system different from the existing UNIX systems of the time?A8: OSF/1 was developed to be an open version of the Unix software, with more modular features and advanced computing capabilities. It was meant to bring more standardization to the Unix-based system environment.Q9: What is The Open Group?A9: The Open Group is an industry consortium aimed at achieving software interoperability. It was formed through the merger of the Open Software Foundation and X/Open in 1996.Q10: What was the significance of the Open Software Foundation in the technology landscape?A10: The Open Software Foundation played a crucial role in driving standardization and avoiding fragmentation within the Unix-based system environment. Its contribution to open standards has significantly influenced the modern technology landscape.

Related Tech Terms

  • Operating System Kernel
  • Distributed Computing Environment (DCE)
  • Motif (User Interface)
  • Open Source Software
  • UNIX

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