Open Source Software

Wouldn’t it be beautiful if all the best things in the world were free? Free as in freedom. Well, even that that’s not true, I still have good news: some things ARE free. And one of them is Open Source Software (OSS).

OSS is probably one of the best things that has happened to the software universe. Why? First, because it’s free. Second, because it’s good. And third, because it evolves and gets better. But what exactly is it? OSS consists in software which is, essentially, open to anyone to use, distribute and modify. This means EVERYONE can use it. Additonally, OSS is usually developed publicly, by many people (this is explained better in my following article about The Cathedral and the Bazaar).

OSS started with the Open Source Iniciative in 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond. As the founding code, Netscape Communicator was released free. The OSI was inspired on the free software movement, commanded by Richard Stallman, the founder of GNU Project.

Now: I won’t talk about the benefits of developing OSS as a public project (that goes into another article), but I will explain why is OSS important in today’s world. Here are some examples of important software that is OSS:

  • Linux: if you think in OSS, you think in Linux. One of the biggest projects, Linux is a kernel used in various operative systems. Today, most of the servers run ina Linux-based ambient.
  • OpenPGP: online privacy is crucial today, since almost everyone can get on the internet today. Criptography makes this work. OpenPGP (Pretty Good Key) is a program for end-to-end encryption, based on private and public keys.
  • MySQL: data is in this world. If we cannot store it, we cannot analyze it.
  • GNU: oh boy, where to start with this one. Linux is built upon GNU.
    flickr photo by blieusong shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
    compilers allow us to make programs. GNOME is an important (to my opinion, one of the best) desktop environments.
  • Apache HTTP: again, many servers are run in this.
flickr photo by blieusong shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
flickr photo by blieusong shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license