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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

commercial nature.

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


End Users

* 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