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Contributing to Open Source Projects and Code

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Traditionally, IT ran off the shelf commercial software, while datacenters ran proprietary Unix hardware and x86 based Windows servers. But recently, the end user computing environment has been disrupted by the advent of smartphones and tablets, with Linux becoming increasingly a dominant force in the data center. Not to mention that there have been predictions from IDC analysts in August 2015 noting that there is already a shift to open source systems like Couchbase and Couchbase Mobile in the server and mobile market.

Contributing to Open Source code is not as daunting as it seems. First off, the Open Source community is large and diverse with people working together on common problems. Stack Overflow is an example of how collective minds are able to solve related issues faster and share in everyday findings. The benefits are that you are able to get direct feedback from a vast community of experts with different skill levels while building out a support system of champions.

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Developers, distributors, and users of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) often face a host of legal issues which they need to keep in mind. Although areas of law such as copyright, trademark, and patents are frequently discussed, these are not the only legal concerns for FOSS. One area that often escapes notice is export controls. It may come as a surprise that sharing software that performs or uses cryptographic functions on a public website could be a violation of U.S. export control law. Export controls is a term for the various legal rules which together have the effect of placing restrictions, conditions, or even wholesale prohibitions on certain types of export as a means to promote national security interests and foreign policy objectives. Export control has a long history in the United States that goes back to the Revolutionary War with an embargo of trade with Great Britain by the First Continental Congress. The modern United States export control regime includes the Department of State's regulations covering export of munitions, the Treasury Department's enforcement of United States' foreign embargoes and sanctions regimes, and the Department of Commerce's regulations applying to exports of "dual-use" items, i.e. items which have civil applications as well as terrorism, military, or weapons of mass destruction-related applications. Read more

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