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Bitcoin’s Source Code, Pt 1: What Does Open-Source Mean?

Many examples of open-source software exist today, including the code for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. “Open-source” describes software or code that is available for anyone to use, modify, study, or share without incurring any cost. In most cases, the open-source software has been created through unrestricted and collaborative community involvement, which is sometimes called “crowd-sourced.” The word “source” in this case refers to the source code that lays the foundation for software programs. In some cases, the same source code can be used as the foundation for many different software applications built on top of it. For example, the Valve Corporation’s game engine code, ironically named Source, has been used to create approximately 50 different games, many of them by independent developers using the open-source code. Continue reading...

Bitcoin’s Source Code, Part 2: What Does It Mean That Bitcoin Is Open-Source?

Open-source software code can be viewed and changed by anyone, but it actually works in the favor of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Bitcoin’s source code was uploaded by Satoshi Nakamoto to a code-sharing site called Sourceforge, which enabled anyone to download, use, and modify the code as they saw fit. In fact, he encouraged the community to do so. The fascinating thing about the design of Bitcoin and many other open-source software is that they will work, and will continue to exist, without anyone owning the rights to the code. In most people’s concept of ownership and responsibility, the owner is responsible for maintaining something, for protecting it from attacks, manipulation, vandalism, fraud, etc, and is also responsible for making sure that it is safe for other people to use. Continue reading...