Why Open Source?

This post is a follow up to my previous post, which I agree was a very biased and personal but a valid ecommerce guide. Since I am new to blogging, the response from that post made me realized why so many of us are blogging now. It’s good to hear positive feedback and it’s even better when you get feedback which you don’t agree with as this would further develop into a healthy debate. My intention was to provide the fastest and cheapest as well as SEO, SEM, affiliate and link building tools complaint solution. My reasons for this was purely to empower the user with a technology which is current and let him worry about the more important and relevant worries such as marketing, sales, management, and above all search engine optimization as there is nothing like free traffic. It’s not that I did not expect the response but somehow the thread lost its direction, which was to empower the user with tools to sell online. So in this second article on the same series I would like to discuss why I chose the open source technologies and what the open source fundamentals are.

What is open source?

Quote from redhat.com

“All software is written with source code. With open source software, the code is protected by a special license that ensures everyone has access to that code. That means no one company can fully own it. Freedom means choice. Choice means power.

That’s why we believe open source is inevitable. It returns control to the customer. You can see the code, change it, learn from it. Bugs are more quickly found and fixed. And when customers don’t like how one vendor is serving them, they can choose another without overhauling their infrastructure. No more technology lock-in. No more monopolies.

And we believe open source simply creates better software. It multiplies one company’s development capacity many times over. Everyone collaborates, the best software wins. Not just within one company, but among an Internet-connected, worldwide community. It’s no coincidence that the rise of open source closely followed the rise of the Internet. The perfect breeding ground for collaboration, the Internet moves ideas and code around the world in an instant“

Quote from Dwheeler.com (a highly acclaimed research paper on Open source)

“Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS) (also abbreviated as FLOSS or FOSS) has risen to great prominence. Briefly, OSS/FS programs are programs whose licenses give users the freedom to run the program for any purpose, to study and modify the program, and to redistribute copies of either the original or modified program (without having to pay royalties to previous developers“

Mr. Richard Stallman writes about GNU (GNU Operating System) at gnu.org

“When we call software “free,” we mean that it respects the users’ essential freedoms: the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes. This is a matter of freedom, not price, so think of “free speech,” not “free beer.”

These freedoms are vitally important. They are essential, not just for the individual users’ sake, but because they promote social solidarity—that is, sharing and cooperation. They become even more important as more and more of our culture and life activities are digitized. In a world of digital sounds, images and words, free software comes increasingly to equate with freedom in general.

Tens of millions of people around the world now use free software; the schools of regions of India and Spain now teach all students to use the free GNU/Linux operating system. But most of these users have never heard of the ethical reasons for which we developed this system and built the free software community, because today this system and community are more often described as “open source,” and attributed to a different philosophy in which these freedoms are hardly mentioned.”

Common Misunderstandings of “free software” and “open source”

Mr. Stallman further clarifies the anomaly between free and open source software.

“The term “free software” has a problem of misinterpretation: an unintended meaning, “software you can get for zero price,” fits the term just as well as the intended meaning, “software which gives the user certain freedoms.” We address this problem by publishing the definition of free software, and by saying “Think of free speech, not free beer.” This is not a perfect solution; it cannot completely eliminate the problem. An unambiguous, correct term would be better, if it didn’t have other problems.”

Lastly from yoism.org, a site which advocates open source practices in real life.

“A community of individuals united by a shared vision of human possibility. Together, we can create Heaven on Earth.”

It all sound so good isn’t it? Do you think IT vendors who mold their services around open source model can survive? Please comment.

Recommended read.

http://www.dwheeler.com/oss_fs_why.html

http://www.redhat.com/about/whyopensource/

http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/open-source-misses-the-point.html

Facebook comments:

13 Comments

  • I am open source guy and I love it.
    It is very hard to predict their survival not because Open source has some flaws but because the future of IT is so much unexpected that one cannot say anything for surety. If you talk about open source solutions you think of reliable and mature solution.

    you had raised a very good question. I would like to say YES the future of Open source is bright.

  • Open Source is a happening thing in Germany atleast, nearly all students in IT has experience of atleast using open source tools. As I have shifted to linux recently myself, I find the tools here more productive (except for MS Office :( )

    As a business model, open source is working well, its not for everybody and every market to understand though, specially Pakistan.

    Remember Ants Consulting….

  • I live on open source. It earns my livelihood. :)

    In principals I do what RedHat does on a larger scale. I’m a full-time freelancer and provide services/consultancy for open source software. And it earns me triple of what I used to get after 2.5 years of experience as php-developer (when i left my job i was team-lead)

    So, I am assure you: you can not only survice but flourish with open source.

  • @Atif Abdul-Rahman:
    We have Open office in Linux, use it

  • I would like to add one thing here: its easy to praise open source and use open source software. But its difficult to make your own code open source.

  • @awahid:
    Being an obtuse critic here, OpenOffice sux, esp. when compared to MS Office2007. I am using both at the moment and try to stick to MS coz of its extra features and better UI in general.

    But OpenOffice is improving too so I am constantly keeping an eye on it.

  • Atif,

    What particular extra features do you like from Office?

  • Nice post but lacking your thoughts and experiences!

    Usually people think Open Source only associates with PHP, Linux etc but its not true and CodePlex [http://www.codeplex.com] is a good example of this.

  • well i see there are some believers.
    Qasim, Although i would have to say i dont use much of open source desktop softwares but i have been fortunate enough to try customize and in some cases contribute to alot of wonderful softwares
    I have also seen that some of the good softwares have conform them selves to cater to popular market demands because of a very vocal community.
    one can also see that Open source softwares have infiltrated the main stream, with excellent softwares(my research is usually on web-based OSS) such as
    Joomla – arguably the top content management system.
    Drupal – closely following joomla and can out perform joomla if your looking for social networking.
    pligg – excellent open source product, has been made with the functionality of digg.com
    moodle – another amazing product for online univerities.
    sugercrm, vtiger, oscommerce, magento, dotproject, openERP, well needless to say theres an open source product for almost every domain!
    hey Sohail!! long time no see! and good to see you do well.
    been using your opennewsletter for almost 3 year now. thank bro:)

  • @Atif Abdul-Rahman
    I am not sure how much you have explored OpenOffice, but I feel very comfortable working in OpenOffice. Yes there are some functionalities that I like to be added in OpenOffice.

    Something is better than nothing.

  • @AA-Rahman and awahid
    There’s no point in comparing MS Office and Open Office, since clearly, MS Office is waaay more superior in terms of stability, features, usability and a ton of other things.

    The only area where OpenOffice gains ground is the price tag.

    And with IBM’s recent funding in the OpenOffice project, lets hope we get a feasible alternate to the MS Office Suite.

  • Why though? Why is usability and features of Office better than OpenOffice?

    Especially features – dont both offer the same set of word processing features?

    Seriously I’m getting really curious about this so someone tell me what features of Office / Word they’re using that arent in OpenOffice

  • Osama,
    You might find the following article very helpful.

    linux.com/articles/45689

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