Bret Hlodan: Open Source


Definition

Wikipedia states Open source can be defined as “a philosophy or pragmatic methodology that promotes free redistribution and access to an end product's design and implementation details.”

History

The concept of open source, or openly sharing information has been around for ages. A basic example of open source information would be sharing your cooking receipts with a neighbor or friend. This concept of sharing however has evolved throughout the years. By World War II, Henry Ford was sharing nearly one hundred patents with other manufacturers around the world. There was no exchange of money for this service. This was a new way for companies to collaborate and share their ideas simply to increase innovation and creativity. “Open Source” is a term used most commonly today when referring to software. This term indicates that the software’s source code, or the “blueprint” to how it works, is available to anyone. These individuals then have the ability to view, add, or modify the code that makes up the software. The term open source was coined in 1998, locally in Palo Alto, during the release of Internet browser Netscape Navigator. They used this term because the source code, or the foundation of the software, was available for anyone to view and manipulate. As time passed having an open source platform gained momentum and a positive connotation. Today we interact with software that is open source on a daily basis, which can be found in anything from applications on our computers to the operating systems on our smartphones.

Organization

Open Source Initiative is a non-profit corporation that advocates the benefits of open source platforms and builds relationships within the open source community. They promote that open source platforms will produce better quality, higher dependability, increased flexibility, and deter inflated pricing from vendors. This collaborative effort among programmers and companies will foster an environment where creativity and innovation can flourish.

What companies or programs implement open source

Many of us may think we have not had any experience with this type of software. However, almost half of all smartphones on the market run open source software. Google purchased the initial developer of the product, Android Inc. in 2005. This popular operating system has dramatically spread across the world since the inception of the first android phone in 2007. Since then, Android has become the best selling operating system as of 2010, according to Wikipedia. As of the fourth quarter of 2011, there are now over 700,000 Android phones being activated everyday. Another form of open source software that may not be familiar to the masses is Linux. This operating system is used in; The Department of Defense, Federal Aviation Administration, US Postal Service and US Federal Courts. This operating system can also be found on the ten fastest computers in the world. This is why open source software has become so popular and valuable. It fosters collaboration and creativity.

Future of open source software

The concept of making the software “free”, in terms of being able to freely modify it, was initially confronted with legal and policy issues. However many of those concerns that were considered strong impediments at the time have subsided. The only stipulation made is that once you have contributed to the software and changed it, you can not commercialize and sell it. This is a licensing agreement known as the GNU. With the mobile phone market and other mainstream operating systems adopting the use of open source software, the future of this movement is looking very bright.

 

 

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