Open Source

OpenSource is a style of software licensing and distribution, related to FreeSoftware (see also FreeSoftwareVsOpenSource).

The consumer of an open source program has the rights to do the following things to the source code:

Open source isn't PublicDomain. That means there is a license involved and the license has restrictions, which can include:

Licenses vary considerably on which of and how these restrictions apply. FrankHecker? has written (draft 20000620) a clear (though long) piece that explains the variations.

Depending on the Software, there are quite a long list of licenses involved in OpenSource:

EricRaymond, author of TheCathedralAndTheBazaar and TheHalloweenDocument commentary, and others have founded an organization and site to promote the concept.

Potential down- and upsides to OpenSource

I'd like to clarify the difference between open source as platform and as a development method (OpenSourcePlatform)

At the risk of defining YetAnotherMethodology, I would like to characterise OpenSource. This list is an interpretation of my reading of EricRaymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar book ISBN 1565927249 . The purpose of this characterisation (I'm not a fan of PigeonHoleThinking?, but sometimes it has its benefits) is to try and draw parallels between OpenSource and ExtremeProgramming in order to define what might be understood by CorporateOpenSource.

-- GerritRiessen

See also OpenSourceProjectOrganization.

Note the above describes the Bazaar Development Process described by EricRaymond in TheCathedralAndTheBazaar. FreeSoftware and OpenSource are involved strictly with the practice of providing full access to source code to your clients without imposing onerous restrictions on its use.

[If no one objects here, I'll come back in a week or so and ReFactor the first section to better reflect the 4 freedoms, and OSS Definition]

Homebrew and Open Source

Are the OpenSource and FreeSoftware communities really a software version of the HomeBrewComputerClub? I guess the key differences are 1) software vs. hardware hacking, and 2) licenses to guarantee everyone's hacking stays in the community.

I would be really interested in thoughts on this from a former member of the HomeBrewComputerClub (1970s/1980s Silicon Valley group that started Apple, and many other computer companies).

-- EricRunquist

As both an original Homebrew Computer Club member, and open source proponent (I was part of the original GNU WebChat? project in 1995, and have enjoyed using Linux since 1994), I'd say the most stunning similarity between Homebrew and today's Open Source movement is the spirit of freely sharing information and ideas. At Homebrew code was often shared freely, just as we did with schematics and information about group chip buys.

If you are interested in more detailed information about the Homebrew Computer Club see

-- BobLash?

Websites involved in Open Source Dev: People involved in Open Source: RichardStallman and the FreeSoftwareFoundation reject "Open Source". They promote FreeSoftware, which is philosophically distinct (and predates OS by about a decade). However, FreeSoftware is often considered to be a subset of the OpenSource movement.

It's suprising that MicroSoft has not been using a MondeGreen for OpenSource as open sores within its documents.

In UserFriendly, Illiad used this represent industry ridicule of OpenSource in early 1999; two years later, he played on his earlier joke by referring to MicroSoft's SharedSource? plan as 'shared sores'.

Question from someone else: is MicrosoftCorporation into SponsoredOpenSource these days?

There's also Castor, which is a java-based project that generates source for java objects that represent XML data files.

Why doesn't someone create a Wiki for Source Code examples? Or, if there is one, where is it? You mean, like CodePedia and MassMind? Are there any others?

AnswerMe Are there any good examples of failed open source projects, what happened, and how things could have been different (with or without open source development)? I have heard many good things about different aspects of the open source paradigm, but, I'd really like to know more about the down side of open source development. That way, I can have a more rounded understanding of the pros and cons of each. Thanks. - IntaekLim

Specific examples are what you asked for, and I hope someone more informed provides some.

Broad conclusions, however, need not anecdotes, but a broad base of evidence. Good attempts to derive lessons from well designed studies:

The Institute for Software Research at the University of California at Irvine has a large body of empirically-based research available on its Open Source Software Development Project's homepage at

The International Institute of Infonomics, University of Maastricht, Netherlands published their Free/Libre and Open Source Software: Survey and Study (FLOSS Study) in June 2002, available online at

Both resources might help you sharpen your question, as different criteria and metrics for measuring 'success' and 'failure' make comparison of open vs. closed software development problematic at best. We can't see inside closed shops as easily as we can browse Source Forge (see Part V of FLOSS Study: "Source Code Survey" for an attempt to glean information from code repositories). We have no comparable way of learning closed shops' true rate of 'success' on any conceivable metric; the best proxy would be a sample taken to be representative of the entire population of closed shops, but even then, the ones that refused to participate in such a study might well differ systematically from the norm. Failures certainly may make it to market, but they are not generally advertised as failures. For that matter, nominal open source projects that are failures on commercial and conventional open source criteria alike may well be counted as successful by their primary developers, for instance, student projects. These would need to be somehow eliminated from any code survey. In sum, like most software quality or programmer productivity questions, this is a very difficult question to answer empirically.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that systems tools or infrastructure software attracts more &/or more talented developers to open source projects than application or enduser software, making the latter more prone to failure in open source development (see examples above). How would one operationalize these variables in order to substantiate or falsify this perception? I'd like to know myself. -- PaulWilson

Please provide a link on OpenSource rationale... as the only profession on the planet that en masse provides a cost free service I think this would help: much appreciated.

As a developer, my time and sometimes my ability are limited, so I use OpenSource software. Because I rely on OpenSource software -- the product of other developers' effort -- I feel it appropriate to contribute my effort in return. Therefore, I write OpenSource software.

Without OpenSource, we would be forced to reinvent many wheels, and the evolution of software would thus be impeded. Earning a living from software development is only a small motivation -- for me at least -- to write software. I mainly write software because it's my contribution to building a better world, so I give it away.
For every example of a successful, useful OpenSource project, I can give you 20 or more examples that ended after the few programmers that created the project, stopped working on the project so they could get a paying job to feed their families. I am well aware of the few very successful OpenSource projects including Linux, Apache and others. I would like to point out a few of the problems with OpenSource.

For all the reasons above, I don't think OpenSource or "free software" is a victim less crime. --- DavidClarkd
Contrast with ProprietarySource, ClosedSource.

See also: LinuxCommunity, FreeSoftware, SourceForScience, TheDumbingDownOfProgramming, FundingOpenSource, OpenSourceAsAgileProcess


EditText of this page (last edited December 17, 2013) or FindPage with title or text search

Meatball   Why   Wikibase