the Socio-historical background of the free/OSS philosophy;
the techniques for developing and implementing free/OSS;
the OSS and community based prosperity;
the philosophy of “Triple D” and
the role of LIS professional in the contemporary Open Source Movement.
The OSS & its philosophy :
Open Source Software describes the intended use of software and methods for its distribution.
In the word of Stallman, we should “think of ‘free’ as in ‘free speech’, not as in ‘free beer’”.
For example GNU software project “a project advocating the distribution of free software”. It begins with Richard Stallman. His interest was to create “free software, but the term “free” should be equated with freedom, and as such people who use “free” software should be:
Free to run the software for any purpose;
Free to modify the software to suit their needs;
Free to redistribute of the software gratis or for a fee;
Free to distribute modified versions of the software, etc.
Fast forward to the late 90’s when globally networked computers are an everyday reality and the .com boom is booming. There you will find the birth of the term “Open Source” and its use to describe how software is licensed:
i. the license shall not restrict any party from selling or giving way software;
ii. the programme shall include source code and must allow distribution of the code;
iii. the license shall allow modifications and derived work of the software;
iv. the license may not restrict how the software is used;
v. the license must not be specific to a product, etc.
Socio-historical background of the free/OSS philosophy; The Artificial Intelligence (AI) lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was founded in 1958 and became one of the birthplaces of computer science and computer culture. During 1960’s young male electronics hobbyists devoted their time to programming and studying these machines. They called themselves “ Hackers ”. A word denoting a person who enjoys exploring computer systems, being in control of the systems, and facing the challenges they present
A sub culture created among the MIT hackers with traditions and social norms of its own. Important values for the community were freedom, intelligence, technical skills, and interest in the possibilities of computers while bureaucracy, secrecy, and lack of mathematical skills were locked down. Six rules of hacker ethic as codified by Levy: 1. Access to computers, and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the hands-on imperative! 2. All information should be free;
3. Mistrust authority: promote decentralisation; 4. Hackers should be judged by their hacking not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race or position; 5. You can create art and beauty on a computer; 6. Computers can change your life for the better (Levy, 1984, pp. 40-45). Computer programmes were treated like any information created by the scientific community. Software was free for everyone to use, study, and change. Building on programmes created by other programmers was not only allowed, but encouraged. On one hand , they were common property of the community.
Techniques for developing and implementing free/OSS OSS is also a process for the creation and maintenance of software. This is not a formalised process, but rather a process of convention with common characteristics between software projects. The developer of a software project almost always trying to solve a specific computer problem commonly called “scratching an inch.” Accordingly, the developer provide the source code to all for use. Looking at the common needs for the software, a mailing lists is usually created to facilitate communication, and the lists is preserved for future reference. As we know “two heads are better than one” philosophy takes effect and the project matures.
OSS and community based prosperity
The culture of OSS born & brought up in a society where a group of people were involved in software testing, modifying, and finally redistribute the final product among the community. This process is a never ending process.
If we sum up, it is found that the prosperity of OSS is directly associated with:
By the community;
For the community;
Of the community;
Philosophy of “Triple D” Here the philosophy of Triple D is working with Determination , Devotion , and Dedication. To working with OSS, Knowledge of computer programming is not necessary. In fact, a lack of computer programming is desirable. In other words, you do not have to know how to write a computer programmes in order to participate in OSS development. We the professional should play an active role in the Open Source Movement in this contemporary era.
Role of LIS professional in the contemporary Open Source Movement. Free/OSS is a growing organism. Proliferation of ICT in the field of Library and Information Science and their application creates new and successful projects in and around the globe. We the professional should admit and accept the call of the epoch, and play an active role in the ongoing Open Source Movement. As we know that receive, modify, and re-distribute is the philosophy of the gift culture and we are the components.