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Author Topic: Open Source, Free Software, Closed Source etc. discussion  (Read 2458 times)

Cpilot

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Open Source, Free Software, Closed Source etc. discussion
« on: April 26, 2006, 08:14:55 PM »
Because of a recent topic on the forum and because of a similar one earlier ( AutoIt3 versus AutoHotKey ). *

I thought it would be appropriate to open a discussion on the definitions of “Open Source Software”, “Free Software” and the different thinking about each movement and what it means.

Some background:
Why "Free Software'' is better than "Open Source’’
Open-source Vs closed-source

I believe that it is worth discussing the, well intentioned, decision to go open source and what the unintended consequences could be.
For instance if someone decides to open source a project with the intention of allowing others to come along and modify and change that code for the benefit of the project.  Should they then have the expectation that their code be confined to that project only or does it become "free range" code? Available for any use anyone wants to make of it ,for example a competing project or even one completely unrelated to the original?

Do people really think through their decision to allow their project to become open source and then have a presumption to absolute ownership of their code if it is used in a manner they don't agree with?
How much credit to the original author is enough?
Is open source a good idea? Or should there be more consideration before deciding open source.
Is closed source underutilized?
This discussion could be helpful for people who may want to consider starting an open source project by possibly pointing out any pitfalls and problems with this kind of licensing.

Thoughts? Ideas?  :huh:

*Keep in mind that the mentioning of Autoit and AHK is not intended to point them out specifically but to only use as an example of the possible problems with open source. This discussion is not an attack on any specific project but hopefully a serious discussion of the inherent problems with different licensing schemes.  :Thmbsup:*
« Last Edit: April 27, 2006, 12:05:43 AM by brotherS »

mouser

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Re: Open Source, Free Software, Closed Source etc. discussion
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2006, 10:20:26 AM »
I have a few open source projects; few have garnered enough interest from other programmers to make these issues relevant.

A very common thing I hear from new programmers is that they run out of time or energy to work on a program and plan to make it open source, expecting that when they do a swarm of programmers will pick it up and start extending it..

The hard truth is that you only have to browse through SourceForge a bit to see the immense graveyard of unfinished Open Source projects.

The steep learning curve involved in using someone else's code means that a project usually has to be well developed and fully funcitonal before it will attract other coders.

I think often people open source code when they really don't want to see it die but can't work on it anymore.  In this case, seeing someone else pick it up and breathe life into it can be very fulfilling, no matter what they do with it.

But for those coders who are still actively involved in it, it would take a special person to not be bothered to see their code forked and then renamed and becoming famous.  But then, the Open Source world is filled with such special people who have a very strong ethical and emotional commitment to free software.

Once again it also comes down in large part I think to the stresses of a winner-take-all capitalist marketing system, where many of us have to worry about earning money to the extent that it would be a real financial hurt if a program we were working on were to become the foundation of a popular program for which we got no credit or reward.  That could really eat you up inside.  Wheras if you had an independent safe income stream you might just say que sera, sera.

mouser

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Re: Open Source, Free Software, Closed Source etc. discussion
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2006, 10:25:10 AM »
I guess my general advice about how to decide if you want to make your program Open Source is to view it from a zen perspective.  Make your code open source when you are ready to give it away.  Prepare it as best as you can so it will get along well with others, and then enjoy it however it's used or not used as the case may be.  If it forms the basis of someone else's masterpiece, you can sit back and enjoy the knowledge that your code is living on and working hard doing it's job, whether you get the credit or not.