I have been a WordPress user for some years now. I run a few blogs on this amazing Open Source Software. Well ok, all my blogs run on it! Finding WordPress, is the best thing that happened to my online self. It did 2 things for me,
- Enabled me to create great websites with ease, without me having to meddle with HTML, js, css, php or any other web language.
- Introduced me to the world of Open Source Software.
I haven’t stopped raving about Open Source since then. It has become a mindset that if a software is not Open sourced it is not in the best state it can be.
Yes, we’re dependent on certain software like Windows, or Mac OS X for example, but even that dependency can be removed by use of UNIX or one of its distributions. Other than this dependency on OS, there’s not much which cannot be done using an Open Source Software. Some are in fact done better with Open Source, like creating a website with WordPress, finding photos on Flickr,
The power of Open Source
Believe me, I am not the alone in believing the power of Open source. An example closest to home for us at Morpho is Atlassian. We use their JIRA on a daily basis. Using JIRA costs the company, and it surely doesn’t come cheap. But it is free for Open Source projects which are under an approved license by the Open Source Initiative, and their source code is available for download to user via a public website.
Opening up our code for others to use, modify and improve upon is really what the web needs to do. Having so much faith in the system I have asked even my brother, who freelances to write code to make Robots do what he wills, to Open Source at least some of his code for the world. Making your code open source is not always the way, sometimes there are certain restrictions that are implied on you. But when you’re writing it for yourself, do not hesitate.
I once edited a tumblr theme for a site. Wasn’t being web savvy! Just tried some fixes to get it to work properly. It was expected to do some simple things, but just wasn’t doing them correctly. Though I didn’t do much to it, but after making it workable, gave it a name and shared the working theme on my blog. I felt and still feel proud and happy for doing that.
Plan to go beyond. We all should.
I hope to contribute to the Open Source movement. How? Making a WordPress theme, for starters. Beyond that, Sky is the limit.
You should go beyond too!
Open source software (OSS) and open source definition (OSD) are rising stars of technology today. The term “open source” was coined in 1998, and is now a media buzzword. Today if a Web 2.0 company doesn’t have or use an Open Source product or project, it cannot be counted as a successful venture.
Software has historically been property of its owner; the rights of its development are with the Developer, until specified in the license with software. Licenses and initiatives like ‘GNU General Public License’, ‘Free Open Source Software’, ‘Open Source Initiative’ etc. help in defining the openness of software code to other developers, defining the terms & conditions of its allowed usage.
An open-source license is a license for computer software that makes the source code available for everyone to use & modify. This allows end user to review and modify the source code for their customizations and/or troubleshooting needs. Open-source licences are also commonly free, allowing for modification, redistribution, and commercial use without having to pay the original author.
The Cathedral and the Bazaar
There are not many printed works on the subject of Open Source about the revolution it has caused. An unusualness of the open source movement is that across its development over the last twenty years or so, there has been little self-documenting.
This is one reason that Eric S. Raymond wrote his famous essay “The Cathedral and the Bazaar” explaining the Open Source Concept, largely to ameliorate this condition of non-documentation.
Fascinated by the rapid development and growing sophistication of the Linux operating system, ESR began studying the open source development model. Why was Linux so mature, when the Free Software Foundation (FSF) had been trying to develop a similar operating system for years without success? He found that while the corporate, mainstream, closed-source method (the “cathedral” model) of coding large programs like operating systems is bound by Brooke’s Law; the open source development process (the “bazaar” model) actually reverses it.
Therefore, it should follow that thousands of programmers working on a single project should become mired in a nightmare of human communication and version control. As “Cathedral and Bazaar” explains, the open source model (the “bazaar”) overcomes this problem through customary central version control, mutual respect, and an army of developers and bug testers.
This is summed up in a famous statement by ESR known as “Linus’ Law” (named for Linus Torvalds, original author and maintainer of the Linux kernel): “Many eyes make all bugs shallow”. The Cathedral and the Bazaar, first presented in 1997 at the Linux Kongress in Bavaria, led directly to the release of the Netscape browser source and the current open source boom.
Open Source is a phenomenon that is growing in momentum, membership, and market share. It has already touched the lives of everyone who uses the Internet (since many of the services and programs that make the Internet go are either open source, or based on an open source program). It will continue to do so, and anyone required to keep up with technology in the world today needs at least some familiarity with its precepts and concepts.
Types of Open Source Licences
Copyleft is a pun – the idea being to turn copyright around upon itself. It is the concept according to which the software can be used for whatever purposes the end user wants – it can be copied, modified & distributed. It is opposed to Copyright software, which is a proprietary piece of code and cannot be copied, modified, distributed or used in any other way than what is specified by the licensor.
Free Software Foundation
The first organized effort to produce open source software was the Free Software Foundation (FSF), founded by Richard M. Stallman (known as RMS) in 1985. RMS formed the nonprofit foundation: to further develop GNU software, and to create a think-tank to further the notion of “Copyleft.”
The FSF developed this concept into the GNU Public License (GPL), a software distribution license that stipulates (in a nutshell):
- Software released under the GPL shall be freely distributable
- The software shall be distributed along with its source code
- Anyone is free to modify the source code and change the program, as long as the resulting program is also freely distributable and modifiable
This ensures that all of the GNU software (and any other software released under the GPL) is protected from those who would use the code to create proprietary, closed-source programs. Around half of the open source software available today is made available under the terms of the GPL. Today there exist several similar licenses of varying restrictions and attitudes toward commercial use and sale of covered software.
The Creative Commons copyright licenses help in creating a balance beyond “all rights reserved” by copyright law. It gives everyone an ability to let their creative work being used in the way they deem fit, and not defined by any stringent law. Thanks to CC-licensing tools, its vast user base and growing digital population with the right idea of what how they want their content to be used – copied, edited, commercial use – a pool of content that can be copied, distributed, edited, remixed, and built upon is available across the internet. This has given more power to the people.
Not everyone has visited Germany’s Schwarzwald or taken a picture of it, but it shouldn’t mean that they cannot use its beautiful scenery for something they’re creating. Creative Commons gives everyone the power to enjoy the beauty of Schwarzwald while sitting at home.
Creative Commons Attribution. This license says that the work can be used by anyone in anyway (even comercially), as long as original creation is credited. It is the most open of the licences. Use it only when you don’t mind your material being used anywhere.
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. This license says that the content has to be Share-Alike. What does it mean? When you create a derivative of some work licenced Share-alike, you have to share the work with others under the same licence, i.e. Share-alike. This entails that even if the derivative work is used for commercial purposes, it can be further modified & used. Wikipedia uses this as main content licence.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative: This license allows the work to be used without any modification for commercial or non-commercial purpose. You simply cannot change what the creator created.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial: This license allows the work to be modified, distributed, or other use for non commercial purpose only. You just cannot make money off of content under this licence.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike: This license is a combination of Non-Commercial and Share-alike licences. The work licenced under it can be modified or built upon; it has to be for non commercial purposes and the derived work has to have the same licence.
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives: This license allows the work to be used as-is and for non commercial purposes only. You cannot modify the original work and most certainly not make any money off of it.