Open Source Initiative


The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organization established in 1998 to promote and protect open source software, and its development and communities. It champions software freedom, strives to increase awareness and adoption of open-source principles, and challenges closed systems. The OSI also maintains the Open Source Definition and offers open-source licenses.


The phonetic pronunciation of “Open Source Initiative” is: “Oh-puhn Sorss Ih-ni-shee-uh-tv”

Key Takeaways

  1. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a global non-profit organization that is dedicated to promoting and protecting open source software and its related communities. Their mission is to ensure the benefits of open source are understood and capitalized by businesses, governments, and educational institutions.
  2. OSI champions software freedom in society through education, collaboration, and infrastructure. This means they actively promote the adoption and creation of open source software, collaborate with like-minded individuals and organizations internationally, and provide resources and tools necessary to benefit the open source community.
  3. OSI also plays a major role in maintaining the Open Source Definition, which is the authoritative list of approved open source licenses. They act as stewards for these licenses, ensuring they all comply with the agreed upon standards of Open Source software.


The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is significant because it plays a key role in promoting and protecting open source software development and communities, along with advocating for the broad adoption of open source software. Since its founding in 1998, OSI has been a steward of the Open Source Definition (OSD), a benchmark for licensing and distributing open source software. The initiative’s advocacy of free access to software’s design, implementation details, and distribution methods fosters a more collaborative software development environment. It enables a wide spectrum of benefits including faster software innovation, increased reliability, higher quality and lower costs, making it a pivotal part of the technology landscape.


The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is an organization dedicated to promoting open source software. Open source software is about more than just freely available programming code—it’s about accessibility, collaboration, and transparency. The major purpose of OSI is to aid the proliferation of open source software by maintaining a robust list of open source licenses and fostering a community of contributors. By approving licenses, OSI ensures that software can be freely used, modified, and shared.Open source software is primarily used for creating a collaborative environment where programmers across the globe can contribute their expertise to enhance, debug, and modify the software. Many big tech companies extensively use open source software and also contribute to it, as it promotes innovation and diversity in the tech industry. Therefore, the Open Source Initiative serves as the steward of the open source definition (OSD), guarding its principles, preventing misuse, and encouraging wider adoption of the concept across sectors.


1. Linux Operating System: Linux is one of the most prominent examples of open source development and distribution. Initiated by Linus Torvalds, the source code of Linux is available for everyone to view, edit, and for developers to improve upon. This has led to the creation of enormous number of different versions, or distributions, of this operating system. They include Ubuntu, Red Hat, Fedora, and many more.2. Apache HTTP Server: This is the most popular web server in the world developed by the Apache Software Foundation. The software is available freely and community maintains and enhances its capabilities. Apache Software Foundation has also developed many other widely used open-source software.3. Mozilla Firefox: Firefox is a free and open source web browser developed by the Mozilla Foundation. It is used by millions of people across the globe. The source code of Firefox is available for everyone to view, use and modify, providing developers opportunities to enhance its functionality by creating additional plug-ins and add-ons.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is the Open Source Initiative (OSI)?A: The Open Source Initiative is a global non-profit organization that aims to promote and protect open source software and communities. Through a comprehensive certification process, it aims to guarantee that the software aligns with the Open Source Definition.Q: What is the purpose of the Open Source Initiative?A: The OSI’s primary mission is promoting the use of open source software among individuals, education, government, and businesses. They work to create legal, structural and technological frameworks within which open source can thrive. Q: What is the Open Source Definition?A: The Open Source Definition is a document published by the Open Source Initiative, which defines what counts as open source software. It includes guidelines related to the distribution, derived works, the integrity of the author’s source code, and non-discrimination among others.Q: How does software get Open Source Initiative approval?A: The OSI has an established process by which they review software for OSI approval. Developers submit their software and licenses to the OSI. The OSI License Review Committee examines these submissions against the Open Source Definition and then provides approval if they meet the criteria.Q: What are some examples of OSI-approved licenses?A: Some examples of OSI-approved licenses include Apache License 2.0, MIT License, GNU General Public License (GPL), and Mozilla Public License 2.0, among others.Q: Why should I use software approved by the Open Source Initiative?A: Using OSI-approved software guarantees that the software is truly open source according to the Open Source Definition. This means the software comes with freedoms like the right to distribute, study, change, and improve the software, ensuring transparency, adaptability, and community involvement.Q: Can I contribute to the Open Source Initiative?A: Yes, the OSI welcomes contributions from individuals and organizations on multiple levels, including participating in working groups, contributing to discussions on open source issues, membership, sponsorship, or donations.

Related Tech Terms

  • Free Software Foundation (FSF)
  • GNU General Public License (GPL)
  • Apache Software Foundation
  • Source Code
  • Collaborative Development

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents