When is it "open source" and not "open-source"? (Hyphenation puzzlement)

Subject: When is it "open source" and not "open-source"? (Hyphenation puzzlement)
From: "Edgar D' Souza" <edgar -dot- b -dot- dsouza -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 11 Jun 2010 08:54:35 +0530

Hello, TechWhirlers,

I wound up in a little cul-de-sac of hyphenation hell, wondering in
which of these cases the words "open source" would be hyphenated - and
when not:

"organisations are shifting to open-source operating systems"

"learn other open-source scripting languages, like Perl"

"RHCE is the best option for those shifting from proprietary to
open-source technology"

"customers are going to run both open-source and proprietary software
in their enterprise data centre"

"companies working in the open source domain"

"A few years back, a small proportion of fellow hackers and the open
source community would nod in agreement"

"there is an increasing demand for open source professionals"

I feel I have gotten bogged down in the semantics of the expression,
and am sidelining grammar. I consider the general definition of "open
source" (copyrighted works - code, data, artwork, content - that are
licensed under an accepted open source license) and how the two words
relate to the following noun. "Open-source operating systems" seems
obvious: a particular subset of operating systems that are, indeed,
"operating systems licensed under an accepted open source license." I
follow the same thought process for "software"/"technology"/"scripting

It's when I get to other nouns, like the last 3 cases, that my
semantic check breaks down and I'm left wondering whether to hyphenate
or not. Clearly, (IT) professionals are not themselves licensed under
an accepted open-source license... :-( and yet, this seems to be a
compound adjective followed by a noun...

Do I need to hyphenate these cases as well? Are there other nuances
that I need to learn about? I've been driving myself nuts over this
for over a day, and references on the Net didn't help resolve my
dilemma - so I felt it was time to ask you: please help!


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