Open source communities Essay


Open beginning communities have successfully developed many pieces of package, although most companies merely use proprietary applications. It is merely late that unfastened beginning package has become one of the most discussed subjects among package users and practicians. The turning attending in unfastened beginning package has been stimulated by at least three factors: the victory of merchandises such as Linux, Apache and MySQL, which are deriving portions in their ain markets ( runing systems, http waiters and databases ) ; the trepidation about the Microsoft monopoly in the package industry ; and, eventually, the progressively strong belief that ”classical ” attacks to package programming are neglecting to give a sensible reply to the lifting demand for efficient and dependable package applications, to the commercial companies who wish to get package in order to run into their company ‘s demands. [ 1 ]

The purpose of this essay is to supply a greater apprehension of the differences between free/open beginning and proprietary package, the advantages and disadvantages of each of them within the concern environment ; and eventually to enable a more informed determination doing procedure when it comes to taking between the two. The chief issues that have been raised include cost, serviceability, dependability, security, service and support. Having said this, the essay will analyze unfastened beginning and closed beginning package in concurrence to these issues. [ 8 ]

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now


Free/open beginning package ( FOSS ) is package for which the human-readable beginning codification is made available to the user of the package, who can so modify the codification in order to suit the package to the user ‘s demands. The beginning codification can be described as a the set of written instructions that define a plan in its original signifier, and when it ‘s made to the full accessible developers can read it, modify it, and redistribute it, thereby bettering and accommodating the package. This manner the package evolves strictly at a rate unmatched by traditional proprietary package. [ 3 ]

Free package and Open Source package have specific definitions and lawfully enforceable licences. A package license acts as the contract between the writer of the package and the licensee that defines the footings of usage of the package. Because package is considered as valuable rational belongings, package writers have assorted rights under the jurisprudence to assist them command the usage and distribution of their belongings ( with few exclusions ) . To be more specific, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ( DMCA ) and contract jurisprudence protect package writers ‘ rights. But what “ free package ” really means? [ 2 ]

‘Free ‘ refers to the autonomy to utilize, modify, and or administer the accredited package, non needfully the monetary value or value. They include the rights to run, transcript, survey, distribute and widen the accredited package. These rights are specifically granted with free package licences. In the universe of FOSS, the licence under which a plan is distributed dramas a important function as they define the importance the writer gives in issues such as the protection of openness, moral rights, compatibility with other unfastened beginning licences and proprietary licences. The most normally used licences are GPL, Artistic, BSD and GNU. [ 4 ] [ 5 ] SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 3

Basically Open Source is a cousin of the Free Software Movement that was created back in 1983 by Richard Stallman as an effort to advance the free distribution of package, unfettered by the standard proprietary codification ordinance and limitations. Free package ‘s regulations are bounded by the General Public License ( GPL ) , which as of 29th of June 2007 it moved to version 3 ( GPLv3 ) . But non all “ unfastened beginning ” package meets this definition. Software may be distributed in beginning codification signifier, but licensed with limitations forestalling its redistribution or its commercial usage. For intents of this essay, “ FOSS ” does non include such proprietary codification issued with limitations on redistribution or commercial usage, nor does it include package released into the public sphere. While that sort of licensing may supply for “ openly ” licensed beginning codification, it does non run into the definitions created by the FOSS Community. [ 6 ] [ 9 ]

There are assorted Open Source Initiative ( OSI ) certified licences available out at that place, each of them with its ain distinct regulations that crave close probe by any company or organisation interested to utilize open-source package. The regulations outlined in any Open Source License Initiative are typically really generous for anyone who merely wants to utilize open-source package. However, all the demands related to the redistribution might necessitate close and careful scrutiny to avoid any possible licence misdemeanor hazards or issues. [ 6 ]

On the other manus, proprietary package ( PS ) licenses normally take away rights. They often take away some or most of the rights listed supra. Proprietary licensed package is in private owned and the proprietor can lawfully except virtually any party it wishes from the usage, scrutiny, transcript, distribution, or extension of the package. The inner-workings of proprietary package are trade secrets. Frequent confusion occurs with the footings ‘proprietary ‘ and ‘commercial ‘ . Many FOSS licensed package is perfectly commercial, every bit good as, SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 4 better, or clearly superior than proprietary opposite numbers, and some proprietary licensed package while considered ‘commercial ‘ is un-competitive and hapless quality. [ 4 ]

Recently, many computing machine and package companies started admiting the free/open beginning motion. Back in 1998, Netscape ( now owned by AOL ) opened the beginning codification of its web browser. Sun Microsystems has besides released the beginning codification of its StarOffice plan. And interestingly, StarOffice has been released under the footings of the GNU General Public License. IBM besides, released an unfastened beginning version of its celebrated AFS file system. IBM has besides announced that it will back up and market the Red Hat version of the unfastened beginning Linux operating system and besides sponsored a three-day unfastened beginning conference in New York City in December 1999. There are many more illustrations bespeaking the support of elephantine companies in FOSS. [ 7 ]


But still, which one is better for a company? Open Source or Proprietary package? The primary ground that makes many companies to get down looking at open-source package is simple: monetary value. Because the package is free, it makes it an attractive option for any company that wants to salvage money. As mentioned earlier, open-source can be downloaded, installed and operated free of charge. This thought of package being free, attracted many developers that were excited in seeking to utilize new tools for developing applications, and were unable to make so in the past because of the high development costs. This type of freedom allowed many coders to get down lending to the FOSS motion that resulted in many of today ‘s popular package plans. Example of these unfastened beginning package ‘s are Linux, Firefox, and Apache. [ 6 ] SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – By Christos Konstantinou – siu06ck2 @ November 22, 2009 Page 5

It did n’t take long after that for commercial companies to get down sing and paying attending to open beginning package. With the IT budgets in changeless force per unit area and with the developers advancing the cost nest eggs and quality of FOSS, many big companies started look intoing in FOSS for their company undertakings. Examples of companies who adopted FOSS include The Weather Channel, Employease and Sabre. Today, about every type of endeavor package merchandise, get downing from e-mail waiters to office suites and even to voice over IP, are available as unfastened beginning. Once you become familiar with utilizing open-source tools, understand the differences and similarities between them, and proprietary package, you ‘ll probably happen many chances to put in FOSS for your company. [ 6 ]

FOSS allows companies to rapidly setup their operations without holding to invariably purchase new licences for commercial package. This scalability resulted to assorted development and trial environments, cut downing the cost and leting to merely seek new things without the added retarding force of proprietary package pricing, and the mandatory traditional budgetary procedure that used to acquire in the manner. [ 6 ]

In add-on, the fact that the beginning codification is available gives a large advantage to the companies, as they do n’t hold to acquire into the traditional modus operandi of keeping the codification themselves. Alternatively they rely on the community of developers that exist around the peculiar merchandises, to maintain the codification up-to-date and debugged. This enables invention and allows companies to accomplish extended equal support and coaction with other groups as good. Companies do non hold to worry about Vendor support or experience compelled to upgrade. This has a complete different impression compared to the traditional proprietorship package which is supported and maintained by merely the seller and which makes the life of the package straight linked to that of its seller merely. [ 6 ] SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 6

In footings of quality, dependability and security, we can back up the thought that because everyone can see the beginning Department of Energy, there is more opportunity of detecting bugs and repair them really fast. Whereas, PS codification is chiefly reviewed by a really little group of people before its concluding release, which has a consequence for the concluding PS merchandise non to be as bug free as FOSS. [ 3 ] [ 8 ]

Furthermore, another advantage for companies puting in FOSS can be considered the fact that there are assorted users lending from different platforms that result in doing FOSS more portable and compatible. This is easy achieved because all necessary alterations are made by users of the appropriate field. For illustration Open Office is available for MAC, Linux and Windows compared to MS-Office which is merely compatible with Windows, and exchanging to a different platform may ensue to incompatibility issues or lost. [ 3 ]

Furthermore, the FOSS Community can supply a significant selling advantage through improved name acknowledgment and can project the image of the company as a “ good corporate citizen ” . This merely means that actively interacting with FOSS and the FOSS Community, can be a manner for companies to open up a assortment of new chances, both concern and proficient, which will doubtless ensue in increased net incomes. [ 9 ]

Additionally, PS relies on the Vendor for new package updates, characteristics, holes and so on ; and this attack takes a immense sum of clip. In the instance of FOSS anyone can lend to it for doing it better, therefore you get newer versions with more characteristics and bug holes faster than PS. Not to advert that there are no per-copy fees for modified versions, in contrast with PS companies such as Microsoft who they ask you to pay royalties when a new version of their operating system is released. [ 3 ] [ 5 ] SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 7

Over the old ages at that place has been tonss of debating over the security of FOSS. PS companies, such as Microsoft, claim their merchandises are more secure because “ hackers ” can non see what lies behind the beginning codification. However, open-source is more secure because the package is unfastened to inspection by everyone ; bugs and security holes can be identified and resolved faster which clearly is really of import for a company.


In contrast to the advantages of utilizing Open Source package within a company, there are of class hurts for companies utilizing FOSS and the chief 1s will be analysed below:

  1. First, without uncertainty FOSS is cost free. Yes, you can download and put in it for free, but people argue that at the terminal it will really be more to keep it and develop the users on how to utilize it. Whether this is true or non depends on the scenario each company is looking. [ 6 ]
  2. Second, support can be difficult to come by, as the package is by and large provided “ AS-IS ” with no guarantees and no care support. Support is likely one of the biggest advantages of utilizing a PS in a company, because it offers ongoing support to the users which is considered a cardinal merchandising point for users without proficient experience. [ 6 ] [ 8 ]

Equally of import is the usability statement. FOSS has been chiefly condemned for its deficiency of serviceability, on the evidences that the engineering has non been inspected by serviceability professionals, hence it lacks pertinence for the bulk of users. In add-on, it is besides argued on the same subject that because FOSS does non lawfully necessitate certification such as SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 8 ushers or manuals, users can merely trust in on-line communities for support. And when FOSS provides certification, it is normally really general. [ 8 ]

Besides, a really of import concern is that the legal branchings are unsure. Due to the assortment of open-source licences that exist, and because the beginning codification is contributed by a vast of users, this would convey commercial companies in a really chilling place. Though, a item analysis and reappraisal of these licences with the nowadays of the legal section can ease many of the frights. Some FOSS sellers even offer damages against amendss if the open-source codification is involved in a case, which at the terminal can protect and profit the company puting in FOSS. As mentioned before, each scenario can change and we can non be certain. [ 6 ]

Similarly, it is of import to state here that freedom is like a two-edged blade. As with everything else, in FOSS freedom besides comes with a load of duty. The companies involved, must understand that they must non mistreat the freedom or harm others, both deliberately and accidentally, or seek to occupy private and proprietary information. FOSS faces or may confront challenges in the hereafter. These challenges can include the fact that hardware industries tend to maintain hardware designs secret as a consequence to be really hard for developers to compose drivers for peculiar hardware on FOSS package such as GNU/Linux. This limits the companies who want to put in FOSS by coercing them to buy merely specific types/models of hardware. [ 3 ]

Though, the worst menace for FOSS used in a commercial company, is package patents. Software patents make it really hard to cognize if some method for work outing aSE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 9 package issue is patented or non. This might ensue for the FOSS community and the company utilizing that method to look guilty of rational belongings violation. [ 3 ] [ 5 ]

Many companies are besides loath to experiment with FOSS because there is a impression that this type of package has the inclination to be less inclusive than the equivalent closed PS. It frequently appears that PS has more characteristics, better certification, is easier to larn, and is more user-friendly as a whole. Peoples believe that a merchandise is considered a victor merely if it has a considerable market portion. Though, my sentiment is that there is first-class grounds that FOSS has important market portion in legion markets. Recent Surveies from organisations such as Netcraft and IDC have shown that Apache for illustration is the current # 1 web waiter ; GNU/Linux is the # 1 waiter operating system, while MySQL is # 3 in the databases market. Statisticss non merely covered the market portion, but besides public presentation and stableness. At this period of clip we besides come across companies that replaced Microsoft Office with Sun ‘s OpenOffice productiveness suite, Ubuntu as operating system and Mozilla Firefox ‘s Web Browser. All these are authoritative illustrations that indicate that FOSS really works! [ 3 ] [ 6 ] [ 7 ] [ 10 ] [ 12 ] [ 13 ]


It has been proven that open-source can sometimes get the better of proprietary package. Hence, companies should do certain that their policies encourage, and non deter FOSS attacks when they look into geting package. There is a countless sum of FOSS now available, along with a immense sum of licences that has increased significantly and continues to increase twenty-four hours by twenty-four hours. After late look intoing the FOSS depository, the figure of FOSS undertakings hosted there was more than 155,000, with an sum of registered SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 10 users of over 1.5 million. Most of this package was developed in a decentralised manner by a huge figure of single developers from all over the universe. The amount of these attempts has formed an extraordinary aggregation of functional, dependable, and free package that can be used to run into every commercial company ‘s demands. [ 9 ] [ 11 ]

Therefore, my personal sentiment is that the best package out at that place in footings of invention, security, dependability, stableness and cost for either a little or large company is FOSS. This is because the codifications have been altered, tested and modified by coders ; faculty members and other administrations on behalf of the unfastened beginning community. A singular thing about the unfastened beginning package is that it can be tailored run into your company ‘s specifications without holding to purchase a license or even pay royalties to the original writers of the codification. It is gratuitous to state, that before deploying any package, merely as with any proprietary package, companies need to measure how good it meets the company ‘s demands. Equally shortly as these inquiries are answered, companies can so continue in geting the package they need ; but do certain to reexamine ( and/or negotiate ) the appropriate licences to be certain that they have the rights they need. [ 8 ] [ 9 ]

One of the down sides of FOSS, is that large giants like Microsoft have a batch of money to put in research and development of their ain merchandises, while the FOSS ‘s rely to a great extent on the generousness of developers, communities and faculty members, for their beginning codifications, certification and testing. It is besides of import to see the impact of package patents on FOSS, which can be really harmful. Much consideration should be paid to guarantee that patent statute law can non be used as a arm against FOSS. [ 5 ] SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 11

Finally, because each scenario varies, it is important for a company when make up one’s minding between FOSS and closed/proprietary package, to take into consideration the internal ( resources and capablenesss ) and external ( stable or germinating ) environment, every bit good as the degree of hazard the company is willing to take. All the above mentioned issues can be used as guidelines to do an informed determination between the two. [ 8 ] SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – November 22, 2009 Page 12


  1. Alfonso Fuggetta. ( 2002 ) . Open Source Software-an rating. Elsevier – The Journal of Systems and Software. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  2. Linda Hamel. 2004, January 20, Open Source Software – Legal and other Issues related to utilize of Open Source Software Products, presented at the Executive Leadership Conference, Boston, Massachusetts. [ Online ] Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  3. Nitesh Rijal, Shiva Ram Shrestha and Sunil Sharma, “ Open Source Software & A ; Free Software ” , NCIT, Dept. Of Elx and Com.. Eng. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  4. Ignacio Valdes. 2008 November, Free and Open Source Software in Healthcare 1.0, presented at the American Medical Informatics Association. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  5. Jesus M. Gonzalez-Barahona. 2000 April, Free Software/Open Source: Information Society Opportunities for Europe? , Libre Software Group. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  6. What is Open Source? ( 2009, November ) CIO-IN, Strategy Guides/Open Source. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – By Christos Konstantinou – siu06ck2 @ November 22, 2009 Page 13
  7. Justin Pappas Johnson, 2001, May 17. Economicss of Open Source Software. Journal of Economics & A ; Managment Strategy. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  8. bWired Company. 2009. Open Source vs. Closed Source ( Proprietary ) Software. [ Online ] . Accessed: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  9. Gwyn Firth Murray and Michael A. Duncheon. 2006 January. Free and Open Source Software: An Introduction. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  10. 2009 Web Server Survey. ( 2009, Nov ) . NetCraft Internet Services Company. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  11. SourceForge – Find and Develop Software Open Source Software ( 2009, Nov. ) . SourceForge. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  12. OpenOffice and Mozilla ‘s Firefox WebBrowser Survey Statistics ( 2009, Nov. ) . [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  13. Databases Market Share Survey ( 2009.Nov. ) Sun MySQL. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // SE3Z5 – Legal Issues Essay – Open versus Closed – By Christos Konstantinou – siu06ck2 @ November 22, 2009 Page 14


  • Open invitation taken up at last. ( 2004, December 1 ) . The Guardian. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //, ,1362744,00.html
  • Free Software Foundation. ( 1985 ) . The GNU pronunciamento. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: // .
  • David Bollier. ( 1999 ) . The power of openness. why citizens, instruction, authorities and concern should care about the coming revolution in unfastened beginning codification package. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  • The Open Source Initiative. ( 1998 ) . The unfastened beginning definition. [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //
  • Richard Stallman. ( 1998 ) . Why “ free package ” is better than “ unfastened beginning ” . [ Online ] . Available: hypertext transfer protocol: //