The rich Robin Hood
What is open source and how did it originate?
Open source is software which is freely redistributable and can readily be
evolved and modified to fit changing needs. The Free Software Foundation
founded by Richard M. Stallman supported a great deal of open source
development from the early 1980s. They successfully released Emacs and GCC
(Gnu C Compiler) which form the core for all unix programmers. Excluding the
actual presence of the source code, the software license is the most
important part of open source software. There are many such licenses
available and in use. Although open source does not recommend any specific
license, FSF's GPL (Gnu Public License) is the most popular and widely used.
Many people find that GPL has a slant towards non profit and has an anti
GPL is not the end to all means. Many programmers in the open source economy
have opted for creating their own software license which essentially follow
the GPL but have some ideological independence.
What's in it for me?
Open source software is of advantage to both the end user and developer
community. Let us first examine the very obvious advantages to the end user
* The "free" factor of software.
* Availability of source code for modification.
* More technically sound software.
* Better response to customer suggestions.
* Good karma for distributing free software with source code.
* An entire online world willing to update and make your software better.
* No advertising and maintenance costs!
* Fun factor.
I'm a developer and I still don't find the above reasons compelling enough
to make me develop open source software! Unless you are college/school hacker,
the robin hood factor is little reason for most ordinary developers to shift
to open source. Thankfully, open source is a much more mature idea.
Most developers like to guard source code because they fear that competitors
might use it to gain an unfair advantage. This is a serious fact which cannot
be ignored in any field of innovation. Linux is a good example of an high
quality implementation of a UNIX system. There have always been many wannabe
OSs that have aimed to do the same but even with Linux's open source, it is
only the popularity of Linux that exists. The positive aspect in open source