Open Source Movement - Evolution


Any technological advance needs a reason to be introduced into society. In the beginning, a difference between hardware and software did not exist. The user and programmer of a computer were one and the same. When the first commercial electronic computer was introduced by IBM in 1952, the machine was hard to maintain and expensive. Putting the price of the machine aside it was the software that caused the problem when owning one of these computers. Then in 1952, a collaboration of all the owners of the computer got together and created a set of tools. The collaboration of people were in a group called PACT (The Project for the Advancement of Coding techniques). After passing this hurdle, in 1956, the Eisenhower administration decided to put restrictions on the types of sales AT&T could make. This did not stop the inventors from developing new ideas of how to bring the computer to the mass population. The next step was making the computer more affordable which slowly developed through different companies. Then they had to develop a software which would host multiple users. MIT computation center developed one of the first systems, CTSS (Compatible Time-Sharing System). This lay the foundation for many more systems to come and what we now call the Open Source Movement.

The Open Source Movement is branched from the free software movement which began in the late 80s with the launching of the GNU/Linux project by Richard Stallman. Stallman is regarded within the open source community as sharing a key role in the conceptualization of freely shared source code for software development. The term “free software” in the free software movement is meant to imply freedom of software exchange and modification. The term does not refer to any monetary freedom. Both the free software movement and the open source movement share this view of free exchange of programming code, and this is often why both of the movements are sometimes referenced in literature as part of the FOSS or “Free and Open Software” or FLOSS “Free/Libre Open Source” communities.

These movements share fundamental differences in the view on open software. The main, factionalizing difference between the groups is the relationship between open source and proprietary software. Often makers of proprietary software, such as Microsoft, may make efforts to support open source software to remain competitive. Members of the open source community are willing to coexist with the makers of proprietary software and feel that the issue of whether software is open source is a matter of practicality.

In contrast, members of the free software community maintain the vision that all software is a part of freedom of speech and that proprietary software is unethical and unjust. The free software movement openly champions this belief through talks that denounce proprietary software. As a whole the community refuses to support proprietary software. It also is suggested there are external motivations exist for these developers. One motivation is when a programmer fixes a bug or makes a program it benefits others in an open source environment. Another motivation is that a programmer can work on multiple projects at the same time doing something they enjoy. Also, programming in the open source world can lead to commercial job offers or entrance into the venture capital community. These are just a few reasons why open source programmers continue to create and advance software.

While cognizant of the fact that both it and the open source movement share similarities in practical recommendations regarding open source, the free software movement fervently continues to distinguish themselves from the open source movement entirely. The free software movement maintains that it has fundamentally different attitudes towards the relationship between open source and proprietary software. The free software community does not view the open source community as their target grievance, however. Their target grievance is proprietary software itself.

Read more about this topic:  Open Source Movement

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