Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

The Lure of Open Source Software

Filed under
OSS

If "there's no such thing as a free lunch," why is there free software? Anyone who has lived in shared accommodation as a student will understand the FOSS principle—if one person cooks more than he can eat, he can either give the excess food to someone else or throw it away. If he gives the leftovers to a housemate, he hopes that the housemate will eventually reciprocate; in this situation, both individuals get a "free lunch" because the cost of the second serving is negligible each time.

Most FOSS is written by developers "scratching an itch"—solving a problem that they personally encounter. For example, Andy Tanenbaum found the UNIX source code license too restrictive, so he wrote MINIX, a simple POSIX-compliant operating system that he could use for teaching students. To keep the system simple and elegant enough for undergraduates to understand, he didn't allow complex features to be added. Linus Torvalds found this restriction too confining; he hacked together the simpler Linux kernel, allowing anyone to submit features, which allowed Linux to grow in ability faster.

Linus' motivation was not to create something for the community; it was to create a system he could use. By distributing his code as free software, he received other people's code in return. The Linux kernel now is far more complex than it would have been if Linus had been developing it himself.

Article Contents:

  1. What Is Open Source?

  2. The Motivation for Open Source
  3. Who Gets Paid?
  4. Security, Bugs, and Features
  5. Off the Shelf?
  6. Not Sustainable?

Full Article.

More in Tux Machines

Head 2 Head: Android OS vs. Chrome OS

A large part of Google’s OS success hasn’t been because of its awesomeness. No. Frankly, we think nothing speaks louder than the almighty dollar in this world. But both are “free,” right? So this is tie? Not really. Although Android is technically free since Google doesn’t charge device makers for it, there are costs associated with getting devices “certified.” Oh, yeah, and then there’s Apple and Microsoft, both of which get healthy payouts from device makers through patent lawsuits. Microsoft reportedly makes far more from Android sales than Windows Phone sales. You just generally don’t see the price because it’s abstracted by carriers. Chrome OS, on the other hand, actually is pretty much free. A top-ofthe-line Chromebook is $280, while a top-of-the-line Android phone full retail is usually $600. We’re giving this one to Chrome OS because if it’s generally cheaper for the builder, it’s cheaper for you. Read more

Kodi (XBMC Media Center) 14.2 Officially Released, Kodi 15 “Isengard” Is On Its Way

The Kodi development team, through Nathan Betzen, had the pleasure of announcing today, March 28, the immediate availability for download of the second and last maintenance release for Kodi 14 (codename Helix), before they continue with the development cycle for the upcoming release, Kodi 15, dubbed Isengard. Read more

Debian 8 Jessie Installer Now Supports Running a 64-bit Linux Kernel on a 32-bit EFI

The Debian Installer team had the pleasure of announcing on March 27 that the second Release Candidate (RC) version of the Debian 8.0 "Jessie" installer is now available for download and testing. The RC2 version of the installer brings a great number of improvements and fixes. Read more

First Look at GNOME 3.16

The highly anticipated GNOME 3.16 desktop environment for Linux kernel-based operating systems has been announced on March 26, 2015, and has been declared by the GNOME development team as the best GNOME release yet. Of course, we wanted to give GNOME 3.16 desktop environment a try and see for ourselves the new features, apps, and improvements. Read more