9. September 2010, 15:56 | by WD Milner | Full Article |

There are many myths and misconceptions surrounding the open source model of software design and distribution. Many of these arise from the use of “open source” as a generic marketing term, but it has a very specific meaning. If a project or application you are considering doesn’t allow you to access the code, doesn’t allow the creation of derivative works, doesn’t allow for the redistribution of said works, then it is not open source.

Open source licencing isn’t a communist/socialist/fascist/secret society/insert-favorite-bogeyman-here plot. Open source licence is just another licence model. It is simply the terms under which the author/owner of a project chooses to release it under for public use. While these terms usually differ radically from those used by closed source or proprietary projects, they are essentially the same - a set of rules mandating what and how others can use the product. Those who object to it being free are usually those with vested interests in similar products they charge money for.

Contributing to open source projects can be done in many ways. Programmers can contribute code and features, but general users can also contribute. Offering feedback, bug reports, feature requests, helping to edit the documentation, making translations or just helping out fellow users on-line, in forums or in person are all contributions that can improve a project for everyone. A large part of what drives the open source model is the freedom of users to take the code, tweak it, change it, feed improvements back into a project, or take them in a new direction and form a new project.

For those who like to control the process themselves, they can retrieve the code, patch it if needs be, and compile it into a working application. If none of that appeals to you, most projects are available pre-compiled and tested and some even by commercial operations that will provide paid support. These are options that are only available through open source.

And yes, open source works with more proprietary offerings like Microsoft® Windows and Apple® OS. A prime example is the popular Firefox web browser. So explore what the open source world has to offer. There may be times you won’t find that special specific-type application your looking for, but there is still plenty to be had. And you sometimes can’t find that special application in proprietary software either.

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Categories: ,
Keywords: open source,myths



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