Open Source Methodology as it Relates to Software

Written by admin on March 30th, 2011

Open source is a theory or method in business that makes a company’s sources and materials known and accessible in addition to its end product. This has become a prominent concept since the dawn of the internet and its information highway. The history of open source, although it was not known by this moniker, dates back to the early 20th century, when Henry Ford challenged a patent from George Seldin, which had created a monopoly on auto parts. Ford legally won the patent, making it worthless, and shared his own patents with auto makers around the country. He made his methods and materials common knowledge so that anyone could reproduce his processes and profit by them.

Today, while the term, open source, applies to a variety of industries, including agriculture, health and science, and technology, it has become a common buzzword primarily in the software market. Open source software is available in source code form, and those codes and rights normally restricted to copyright holders, are available to the consumer so that they can study, change, and improve the product. The concept, as it applies to software, has emerged from a growing outcry for free software. Studies have revealed that the existence and availability of open source software has saved individuals and organizations around billion per year.

The movement for free software began in 1983, and in 1998, a group of volunteer developers and IT professionals began designing open source software, and making it available to the general public. This became a viable option for individuals or organizations seeking software that could be customized like a proprietary system, but without the cost. This is different from free software because a free software package is limited in what it can do and it cannot be changed by the consumer. Open source software, on the other hand, has all software codes available so the consumer can change and update the software to meet their individual needs. Volunteer developers create these sets of codes and make themselves available to troubleshoot, as a paid team of developers would be available for help desk responsibilities for any proprietary system.

Open source software and, in turn, open source business concepts in all industries, has been raising eyebrows in a number of arenas. There are those who believe that the offering of codes, sources, materials, and ideology, will lead to economic repercussions, overall, and do away with the current capitalist basis of industry in our country. After all, why would a consumer purchase software if they can get it for free? And why would they buy a can of Coca-Cola if they know the recipe to make their own. The truth is that open source methodology puts software and soft drinks in the hands of those who lack the resources to purchase them, or those who have the time, materials, and resources to use the information at their fingertips to create their own product. The economy will be bolstered by the diverse populations of these people who will then produce and introduce other products and services because these open source products are available to them.

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