Open source movement

From Academic Kids

The open source movement is an offshoot of the free software movement that advocates open-source software as an alternative label for free software, primarily on pragmatic rather than philosophical grounds.

The movement was founded in 1998 by John "maddog" Hall, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, and others. Raymond is probably the single person most identified with the movement; he was and remains its self-described principal "theorist", but does not claim to lead it in any exclusive sense. In contrast with the free software movement, which has always been essentially directed by a single figure (Richard Stallman), the open source movement is "steered" by a loose collegium of elders that includes Raymond, its other co-founders, and such notables as Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall, and Guido van Rossum.

The founders were dissatisfied with what they saw as the "confrontational attitude" of the free software movement, and favored advocating free software exclusively on the grounds of technical superiority (a claim previously made by Raymond in his essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar). It was hoped that "open source" and the associated propaganda would become a more persuasive argument to businesses. Raymond's comment was "If you want to change the world, you have to co-opt the people who write the big checks." (Cygnus Support had been pursuing exactly this approach for a number of years already, but not advertising it widely.)

The group adopted the Open Source Definition for open-source software, based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines. They also established the Open Source Initiative (OSI) as a steward organization for the movement. However, they were unsuccessful in their attempt to secure a trademark for "open source", to act as an imprimatur and to prevent misuse of the term. Despite this, the OSI developed considerable influence in the corporate sphere and has been able to hold abuse of the term to a tolerable minimum through vigorous jawboning. With the FSF, it has become one of the hacker community's two principal advocacy organizations.

The early period of the open-source movement coincided with and partly drove the dot-com boom of 1998-2000, and saw a large growth in the popularity of Linux and the formation of many "open-source-friendly" companies. The movement also caught the attention of the mainstream software industry, leading to open-source software offerings by established software companies such as Corel (Corel Linux), Sun Microsystems (StarOffice), and IBM (OpenAFS). By the time the dot-com boom busted in 2001, many of the early hopes of open-source advocates had already borne fruit, and the movement continued from strength to strength in the cost-cutting climate of the 2001-2003 recession.


Relations with the free software movement

Since its inception, the open source movement has been a matter of controversy within the hacker community.

Stallman, speaking for the Free Software Foundation (FSF), has criticized the motivation of the open source movement. According to him, the pragmatic focus of the movement distracts users from the central moral issues and the freedoms offered by free software, blurring the distinction with semi-free or wholly proprietary software. Stallman describes the free software and the open source movements as separate "political camps" within the same free-software community, however, and says: "We disagree on the basic principles, but agree more or less on the practical recommendations. So we can and do work together on many specific projects."

Both free-software and open-source advocates have rallied together in times of crisis, such as Microsoft's intense attacks on the GPL in 2001 and the SCO lawsuit attacking the Linux kernel in 2003. Indeed, there is not a strict division between the two movements, as many individuals identify to some extent with both groups (although some, like Stallman, espouse one of the two philosophies exclusively).

Tensions between the two communities have occasionally been exacerbated by a habit in the trade press and elsewhere of casting their differences as a personal drama between Stallman and open-source notables such as Raymond or Torvalds.

In practice, the operational definitions of free software and open-source software are the same. The lists of compliant licenses maintained by the FSF and OSI are nearly identical, differing only in corner cases such as the first version of the APSL. Adherents of the free-software and open-source movements typically have no difficulty cooperating on software projects.

Open source vs. free software thus joins the list of philosophical divisions amongst hackers, alongside the editor wars, and KDE vs. GNOME.

Some authors, when discussing the movements together, use terms other than "open source software" and "free software" to attempt to describe the union of these two concepts. These other terms include open source software / free software (OSS/FS), free / open source software (FOSS), and free-libre / open source software (FLOSS).

Open source culture

Main article: Open source culture

Some in the open source movement have claimed that open source principles can be applied to technical areas other than computer software, such as digital communication protocols, data storage formats, and open source hardware. Bolder claims extend open source ideas to entirely different fields, such as the dissemination of general knowledge.

See also

External links

es:Movimiento_del_Software_Abierto pl:otwarte oprogramowanie


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