The First Steps…
“Open source describes the principles and methodologies to promote open access to the production and design process for various goods, products, resources and technical conclusions or advice. The term is most commonly applied to the source code of software that is made available to the general public with either relaxed or non-existent intellectual property restrictions. This allows users to create user-generated software content through either incremental individual effort, or collaboration.” - Wikipedia
Oh well, that was Wikipedia defining open source in its own way, now it is our turn. This site of ours is an effort to make people better understand, comprehend and know open source as well as they know their closest people.
This site aims mainly at defining a perspective towards Open Source and its existence in the software world trying to bring in an appreciative opinion towards an effort to unify, enhance and make the software market more productive. This effort or movement is what some of the highest minds on the planet would like to call as the Open Source Movement
Consider this analogy:
Let us consider that you’re walking in a mall and a stranger comes up to you. He wants you to try a new food recipe he’s come up with. And he is not charging you anything to take it. You look at the recipe. The name of the item given by the man is ‘pizza’. So you “What the heck!” and give it a shot and hope that it turns out well. And it does! Not only does it taste brilliant, its looks and smell good too. Even more surprising is the fact that he you got a recipe from a total stranger. At the bottom of the page, you see a note. It says: ‘Did you like it? I know you did? You got this from me. Now it’s your turn to share it. Give this to someone else. If you can, experiment and make the dish better. And when you’re done, pass it on. It is not going to cost you, and it definitely is not going to hurt you.’
What has happened here is that the man believes that this will allow the recipe to reach the masses and be improvised suiting the taste of the people who’re consuming the dish. He is giving them the power to choose what’s best for them; to have the way they want it instead of it being fed to them.
This man is very similar to the present day vendors endorsing open source software.
On the other hand let us consider that you’re walking in the mall and you’re approached by a restaurant manager. You tell him that you were actually looking for a certain man who gave you a recipe for a pizza. He proudly tells you that he got rid of him as the so called ‘pizza man’ was giving away a very special recipe to anyone and everyone without much reason (or so he thought).
You are quite enraged by these thoughts as you sincerely agreed with the ideology of the ‘pizza man’ and shared his opinion about the sharing of intellectual property and allowing everyone to benefit from it, such that further innovation and progress takes place. But alas, you are left with no choice but to go to this man’s restaurant for food. This food at the restaurant is not bad, in-fact it is pretty good, maybe as good as the ‘pizza man’s pizza, but it didn’t seem to be worth the gaping whole it left in your pocket.
Also, the manager was a strange fellow, who asked you if you liked the food, and when you complimented it, he threatened that he would sue you in case you tried to reverse engineer the food item, i.e. find out how it was made in the first place. This was the most absurd thing you had ever heard.
After this experience you seriously considered looking for the ‘pizza man’ again and if not that, at tried to spread his ideas about sharing being the ultimate way to gain knowledge.
The restaurant manager here was very similar to the current proprietary software vendors in his practices. The same way in which he tried to get rid of the pizza man just because he threatened his business, proprietary software vendors are trying to wipe out the very existence of Open Source that is so beneficial to the world of software. Similarly, closed source software companies do not share their source code but go to the extent of suing anybody who attempts to discover it. It’s outrageous! It violates the very fundamental principles of freedom.
More on History of Open Source
The Early Years
The computer world lived in peace in the 1960’s and 70’s. The programmers readily shared their ideas and source codes with fellow programmers. Global communication was not very prominent at that time, so the flow of information was restricted to universities and research labs. The seeds of Open Source were sowed here.
He left MIT in 1984 to the start the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation, saying that id he stayed on, he “knew that at the end of my career, I would look back on years of building walls to divide people, and feel I had spent my life making the world a worse place”. RMS as he is called, was soon to become the leader of all things associated with Open Source.
During the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, open source software continued to develop. The Internet helped to coordinate and compile all the efforts and build up a bigger user base. Over time, much of the work was integrated creating complete environments based on UNIX. An interesting case here is of the ‘X Windows System’ which was the first Open Source software funded by a consortium of companies.
The Current Scenerio
During the 1990s, many open source projects have produced a good quantity of useful and high-quality software which are in use the world over. Some of them are Apache (the most widely used server today), Perl (an interpreted programming language with lots of libraries), XFree86 (the most widely used X11 implementation for PC-based machines), GNOME and KDE (both providing a consistent set of libraries and applications to present the casual and non-tech savvy user with an easy to use and friendly desktop environment and interface), Mozilla (the free software project funded by Netscape to build a WWW browser), etc.
The Last Word
In this fashion, the birth of ‘Open Source’ as we know it took place, and the early protagonists of the Open Source revival were born. Over time, they acquired good proportions in their respective fields, some going on to become market leaders. All such software boasted of high functionality and a large number of user-friendly features. By this time, Microsoft had got what they desired: monopolies in a large number of markets. At one time, their flagship product, Windows, was run on 95% of the PC’s worldwide.