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A Social History of Free and Open Source Software


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A brief overview of Free and Open Source Sof

A brief overview of Free and Open Source Sof

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  • Outreach Manager for OSU Open Source Lab What is the OSL? Tripartite mission: hosting major open source projects, providing training to student employees, outreach to help other organizations use “the open source way” Previously Google Inc responsible for their Summer of Code program, Google Code In (then GHOP) & launched dev blog
  • Who uses open source regularly? Those that didn't raise hands: Who uses Facebook? Google? Shops on Amazon? A little bit of history on the OSI – why they exist, approval of licenses
  • Explain who Richard Stallman is Recap the printer story:
  • Explain each of the four freedoms Explain in detail what each one means in real terms Discuss ways each freedom relates back to Richard's experience with the printer at MIT
  • There is a great deal of 'practical' information in the GPL and all software licenses – provided as is, warranty free, etc. Software licenses are manifestations of personal value systems Consider this is equally true in the case of corporate “personhood”
  • Fears of mixing in GPL licensed code and giving up rights to corporate created works Different ideologies made for difficult conversations – think back to Sproul and the NDA Seen to hamper innovation due to lack of adoption
  • Selling people on the same values as those that guided Netscape Linus Torvalds, creator of Linux, 'blesse' the term April 8, 1998 the community elders voted to begin promoting the term open source and adopt rhetoric of pragmatism & market-friendliness For quote, see
  • Many, many years of arguing and consternation License incompatibility is a big source of issue; more than 100 approved OSI licenses at this time See book cover – image obtained from Amazon for this work Not particularly interesting but remember, this is a “religious” view for some people Licenses are an expression of people's value systems in addition to being legal documents
  • Discuss patent clause in Apache license and how it helps to preclude patent litigation Apache has had a great deal of outside contribution despite not requiring it – mention mainline branch maintenance vs. internal branches Consider again the notion of corporate personhood in context of software licensing: Google prefers Apache Eclipse project sponsored out of IBM and created their own license to go with the code base
  • Both ways have created excellent business successes Independent developers still largely value the GPL, with more than 50% of newly licensed projects on SourceForge and other hosting sites being GPL (this information is dated to around 2005, though, be warned)
  • Transcript

    • 1. A Social History of Open Source Software Pacific Northwest College of Art Leslie Hawthorn, Outreach Manager October 11, 2011
    • 2. Introduction
    • 3. What is Open Source? Software that can be freely downloaded, used, modified and redistributed. Generally: Licensed under an OSI-approved license
    • 4. Before There Was Open Source.....
    • 5. The Four Freedoms
      • Freedom 0: The freedom to run the program for any purpose.
      • 6. Freedom 1: The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish.
      • 7. Freedom 2: The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor.
      • 8. Freedom 3: The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements (and modified versions in general) to the public, so that the whole community benefits.
      The Four Freedoms The Four Freedoms
    • 9. The Four Freedoms
        The GNU General Public License is a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works. The licenses for most software and other practical works are designed to take away your freedom to share and change the works …. When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for them if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs, and that you know you can do these things.
      The Four Freedoms From the Preamble to the GPL
    • 10. The Four Freedoms
      • Businesses were hesitant to use free software
      • 11. Fear of stagnating innovation
      • 12. Enter Open Source
      The Four Freedoms Free as in Freedom - For Business?
    • 13. The Four Freedoms
      • Open Source Initiative founded in 1998
      • 14. Non-copyleft licenses are approved by OSI
        • MIT X11, BSD, etc.
      • Response to “moralizing and confrontational attitude”
      The Four Freedoms New Licenses Emerge
    • 15. The Four Freedoms The Four Freedoms The License Wars
    • 16. The Four Freedoms The Four Freedoms Apache License
      • License is not viral like several before it
      • 17. Clause regarding patent litigation is key
      • 18. Considered incompatible with GPL by Free Software Foundation
        • But not by the Apache Software Foundation
    • 19. The Four Freedoms The Four Freedoms The Business Cases
      • Linux is the biggest example of GPL'ed code as a business success
        • RedHat on track to $1B in revenue this year
      • Apache Incubator has more than 100 projects
    • 20. The Four Freedoms The Four Freedoms Why Does Any of This Matter?
      • FOSS is good for business
        • Avoiding vendor lock-in
        • 21. Influencing public opinion on 'how' things should be done
        • 22. Recruiting tool to find new employees
        • 23. Reduce training times and employment costs by using common building blocks
    • 24. Thank You! Leslie Hawthorn, Outreach Manager [email_address] @lhawthorn This presentation is licensed for your (re)use:
    • 25. Images
      • The OSU photo is copyright Greg Keene and is used with his permission.
      • 26. The photos of Richard Stallman are made available by Flickr users under a Creative Commons License.
      • 27. The OSI keyhole logo and the ASF feather logo are trademarks of the Open Source Initiative and the Apache Software Foundation. Use in this presentation is considered fair use according to each organization's logo guidelines.
      • 28. The St. Laurent book cover was taken as a screenshot from the product description on, 10 October 2011.
    • 29. Resources
      • Producing Open Source Software:
        • This guide for starting a FOSS project provides a good overview for newbies, too.
      • Guide to GSoC Mentoring:
        • Documentation for Google Summer of Code Mentors that will also be of general use to folks looking to add new contributors.
      • Student Guide to GsoC:
        • Docs for GsoC students that will also be of general use for learning how to contribute to FOSS projects
    • 30. Resources (cont'd.)
      • Mentoring in Open Source Communities: What Works, What Doesn't
        • Excellent article interviewing several FOSS developers on their mentoring methodologies.
      • How to Ask Questions the Smart Way
        • The often cited guide to asking questions effectively in the FOSS world. Not always gentle in tone – your mileage may vary.
    • 31. Even More Resources
      • The Free Software Definition
        • The document for understanding the concept of software being free as in uncensored speech rather than no cost
      • The Cathedral and the Bazaar
      • 32.
        • Seminal piece on the early history and fundamental concepts of the Free Software movement
    • 33. The Last Resources Page
      • The Open Source Definition
        • Document used by the Open Source Initiative to determine whether or not a particular license can be considered Open Source. Useful for understanding the differences between Free Software and Open Source.
      • Please suggest additional resources!