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Innovation

Free vs. Open

The biggest problem remains disseminating those fixes throughout the community. Having every user's address and being able to force compliance with security fixes is the main advantage the proprietary world retains.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive on

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The Father of open source hates the term.

Richard Stallman much prefers the term "free" software. He says four software freedoms are fundamental -- free to use, free to see, free to change, and free in response.

It's the obligation which is at the heart of his last freedom that has proven controversial. Thus the term open source. Open source has since become the common form of the term. (A new BBC documentary tries to compromise and use "Free and Open Source Software" (FOSS).)

Open source, or FOSS, is portrayed in the two-part documentary as an answer to the Digital Divide, a way to bring countries like Brazil into the 21st century. The idea that such companies as Intel, IBM, Sun and Microsoft all endorse the concept gets short-shrift.

That's a mistake. Open source, or FOSS, isn't just good for the poor. It's good for the rich, too, and those in between. FOSS brings every user into your development community, and brings everyone's imagination to bear on the application.

Programs that are open source can be improved more rapidly than those which are closed source. Their bugs can be stamped-out more readily too. The biggest problem remains disseminating those fixes throughout the community. Having every user's address and being able to force compliance with security fixes is the main advantage the proprietary world retains.

But for how long?

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