What is Open Source? =

Open source software can be found everywhere, on your Android phone and in your crypto wallet. But what does open source actually mean? In this blog we provide an extensive explanation about open source, why it is important for crypto and blockchain, and how you can participate in the open source code yourself.

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  • What is Open Source?
    • Example of open source
  • Why is Open Source Important for Crypto and Blockchain?
  • What are the benefits of open source?
    • Collaboration and innovation
    • Security
    • open source is free
  • How is money made with open source?
  • How can you earn money with open source blockchain and crypto?
    • Gitcoin.co
    • Cent
    • Bug bounty program
    • Trusted Token
  • What are well-known open source blockchain projects and how can you participate?
    • What are the largest open source blockchain projects?
    • As a developer, how can you participate in open source projects?
    • How can you participate in open source if you are not a developer?
  • How is open source legal?
  • Finally

What is Open Source?

Open source literally means that the source code of a program is publicly available. Because the source code is public, anyone can see how the program works and what the program does. In addition, open source software can often be modified by anyone. Of course you can’t just do that: you have to understand coding and the other programmers have to approve your adjustments.

Open source is special because the program is not written behind closed doors. Thanks to the public nature of the source code, the intentions of the programmers are completely transparent to the users. Because everything is controllable. Thanks to this transparency, consumers know that the software they are using can be completely trusted.

Built-in trust is important for crypto and blockchain. Because the source code is online, the user knows that their data will not be misused.

Example of open source

The most famous example of open source is the Linux operating system. Linux was made public in 1991 by Linus Thorvald who developed the operating system as a hobby. Linux is used by many companies to run servers. But you probably know Linux best as the operating system that Android is based on. Linux is secretly the most used operating system on earth and is completely built by open source developers.

The video below explains what open source software is in 3 minutes:


Why is Open Source Important for Crypto and Blockchain?

Open source is important to crypto and blockchain for two reasons. The first reason coincides with Bitcoin’s raison d’être: by building a completely transparent system, banks and governments cannot cheat. Open source software has nothing to hide.

The second reason is that open source software offers many more opportunities to developers. If you have a good idea, like Linus Thorvald, you can use Ethereum source code to build your own app, for example. Open source therefore not only ensures transparency, but also innovation.

What are the benefits of open source?

The biggest advantage of open source is that everyone can work on the code together.

Collaboration and innovation

Because the source code is open and exposed on the internet, anyone with an internet connection can view the code. This means that any software developer can play with the code. Will a new hot wallet be released on the Ethereum platform? Then developers can check whether everything works seamlessly with each other, how the operation can be improved and whether there are any security flaws.

For example: The two largest contributors to the Bitcoin Core project, the open source software that runs a Bitcoin node, are a Dutchman and a German, who contribute weekly, voluntarily, to the source code of the Bitcoin Core in C++, Python and HTML. network. The nice thing is that you can see exactly who did what.

The crypto and blockchain community distinguishes between four different types of interactions with the source code:



  • Checking code
  • Adding new code
  • Reporting errors
  • Submit a request to remove code

Because programmers can add something on their own, you lose the part where you have to get permission from your boss or company. You just build the code and if it works well then it is added to the source code. This way of working ensures that you can try out all kinds of different ideas at a fast pace. Open source therefore has a strong innovative character.


Because the software is public, anyone can attack, tear it apart, and stress test it. Security is not dependent on a small department within a company; everyone on earth can participate in this. This means that, in theory, a 12-year-old could find and report a security breach. An open source program is therefore much better stress tested than a normal program that is developed behind closed doors.

Open source is free

The main advantage of open source is that it is free. By removing the financial barrier, everyone, young and old, rich or poor, can participate in the project. As a result, quality is at the top of the agenda and not personal gain.

This democratic accessibility is central to the crypto and blockchain philosophy of Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The fact that open source is free unfortunately causes one of the biggest disadvantages of open source: the programmers are not paid. So the knife cuts both ways. A criticism from the developers is that miners profit from the source code without adding to it. There is a good chance that miners will be forced to share part of their profits with the developers of the network in the future.

Programmers who contribute to open source do not have to work for free: there is a perfect blockchain / crypto solution for the open source earning problem.

How is money made with open source?

Making money with open source doesn’t have to be difficult. A good example of this is the open source operating system Linux. Linux is free for everyone to use for both individuals and companies.

Because you can easily customize the operating system, it is widely used in companies to run servers. IBM is a good example of this. Linux is so important to IBM that the company is happy to pay money to keep Linux software up to date.

Earning money with open source is therefore not difficult: if many people use your software, they are willing to pay for maintenance and service. You just have to be the best.

Open source software is much cheaper for companies. Instead of having to employ someone on a permanent basis to maintain their own software, they can hire a specialist to tailor the open source software to their needs. The tasks that the specialist performs:

  • Add extra features with plugins and add-ons.
  • Modify and improve existing code (updates)
  • Maintenance

How can you make money with open source crypto and blockchain?

Blockchain and crypto are the technology of the future and come up with the perfect solution for the earning problem of open source developers. You can follow the progress of the source code perfectly and link the meaningful changes to a reward. Of course, the developer will then be paid in crypto.

Unfortunately, these systems are still in their infancy. Crypto and blockchain are therefore still heavily dependent on volunteers who want to advance the technology. Nevertheless, there are a number of large companies that ensure that developers can earn a living by developing open source software. Examples include MIT, Coinbase, Lightning, Blockstream, and Square Crypto.

The textbook example is the Ethereum network. Ethereum wants to give real value to everything of value through their blockchain. Developers can therefore easily receive compensation for their labor via the Ethereum network. The two largest parties that help with this are Gitcoin and Cent.


Gitcoin.co is a great example of how blockchain and crypto are changing open source. Gitcoin wants to reward developers for meaningful contributions to the Ethereum network. Gitcoin does this in 6 ways:

  1. By offering bounties: A company can post an issue through Gitcoin. The developer who solves the problem gets a reward.
  2. Kudos: These are rewards you can give to a developer as a token of thanks and appreciation. The Kudos are pictures worth Ethereum.
  3. Research Scholarships: This is similar to the bounty program. The duration is just longer. So a developer can work on a project for a long period of time.
  4. Targeted advertising: Developers can advertise their own projects through the Codefund program and raise funding in this way. Of course, the project must be relevant to the Ethereum network.
  5. Hackathons: competitions where developers compete against each other to build the best solution. The winner wins the prize pool.
  6. Quests: You can follow a training program to learn how to program for the Ethereum network. You will receive Kudos for every test you pass.

All rewards at Gitcoin are currently paid out in Ethereum. Businesses can pay Gitcoin with stablecoins.


Cent is both a revenue model for participants and a social media platform. Here you can post art, ideas, software and stories. If someone finds it interesting they can ‘seed’ you. You then get 25% of the seed and the other 75% goes to the other people who also seeded. In this way, everyone is encouraged to participate in the network. The seed is Ethereum. Here too, if your work has value, you will be rewarded for it.

You can earn Ether at Cent in four ways:

  • By seeding
  • By answering
  • To tip
  • By ranking answers

Bug bounty program

Websites like Coinbase have their own bug bounty program. This works just like the Gitcoin bounty program, except that you will find these programs on the websites of the software developers themselves.

Trusted Token

An interesting mention is the Trusted Token of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance (EEA). You can see the Trusted Token as a reward for a ‘closed’ open source project. The Trusted Token can only be given to another company. In this way, participants of the EEA can encourage other companies to actively participate in the open source projects of the EEA.

What are well-known open source blockchain projects and how can you participate?

Anyone can participate in open source projects such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. The level at which you participate differs. If you can program, you can go to the developer forums of the major blockchains: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Hyperledger, Corda Quorum, Openchain. If you can’t program, you can always participate in the blockchain as a blockchain node or miner.

Below you will find the largest open source blockchain projects. Then we show you how to participate in a project.

What are the largest open source blockchain projects?

The largest open source blockchain projects all come from industry. The big IT companies have known for a long time that blockchain is changing the world. The biggest players are companies such as IBM, Intel and JP Morgan. It is interesting that all five blockchains are centrally organized. This means that you need permission to participate. The main reason given for this is that it makes the network faster. Although the networks are organized centrally, the source code for each network can be found online.

Below is a list of the 4 largest blockchains:

  1. Hyperledger from The Linux Foundation: Primarily aimed at businesses. Largest participants are IBM, Intel and SAP Ariba. Hyperledger does not have its own cryptocurrency.
  2. Enterprise Ethereum from the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. Here too, the industry is the largest target group. It does have its own cryptocurrency: Ethereum.
  3. Corda: mainly run by banks. The goal is to maintain the privacy of transactions. Only the participants of the transaction can view the transaction information.
  4. Quorum: Bank blockchain run by JP Morgan. Quorum is on the Ethereum network.

As a developer, how can you participate in open source projects?

The classic place where you as a developer end up if you want to participate in open source projects is Github. Almost all blockchain projects have shared their source code here. You can also find current projects here that you can participate in. You can also go directly to the developer forums of the projects themselves, for example those of Bitcoin.

How can you participate in open source if you are not a developer?

Open source is usually thought of as developing programming code. The nice thing about blockchain and crypto is that anyone with a computer can participate in an open source crypto or blockchain project.

A good example of this is the aforementioned Bitcoin Core project. You can easily download the source code to your computer and run the program. You are now a node on the Bitcoin network! Your computer is now used to verify transactions. Unfortunately, you don’t earn any money this way. You do ensure that the Bitcoin network remains decentralized and objective.

You can also choose to mine Bitcoin or Ethereum. This is more intensive and also requires slightly heavier computers. As a miner you can build the next block of a blockchain by solving the Bitcoin or Ethereum problem. If you do that successfully, you will receive Bitcoin or Ether.

How is open source legal?

Open source is legally quite complex. You can easily protect physical property by keeping it in a safe. This is not possible with intellectual property such as software. In such cases, Copyright must protect the creator’s property.

Copyright takes effect immediately as soon as someone has created something. Think of photos, music or designs for a house; but also software. Copyright says that the creator of intellectual property may determine whether someone else may use, borrow, adapt or buy the work.

In order to make open source software truly open source, copyright must first be addressed. This is done with a license. The maker releases their intellectual property in the license, so that others may also use the software.

In open source projects, a number of basic rules are often built into the license. For example, that the software may not be used in another project, or that an update may only be carried out if all participants agree.

Because copyright is recognized by all countries, the licenses associated with it are internationally recognized. However, each country has a different interpretation of copyright. Open source projects therefore adjust their user licenses so that they comply with local regulations in most countries.


Open source projects have long since proven themselves. Still, there is a long way to go. To retain all the benefits of open source projects, a better solution will have to be found for the developers. Websites like Gitcoin are taking the lead here.

If you still have questions based on this blog, feel free to ask them at the bottom of this article, with us on the Crypto Forum or in the AllesOverCrypto Facebook group.






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