Open Source

The open source movement is where a large number of programmers and other computer users advocated unrestricted access to the source code of software. Openness is a term that refers to projects that are open to anyone and everyone to contribute to the actual programming. This in turn has helped form superior software throughout the technology world. Many people who deal and understand open source claim it is superior in a number of ways to closed source. Many reasons are cited for supporting the open source movement. Among the reasons are stability, reliability and security. As of the early 2000’s most of the programmers are employed not to produce software for sale, but they design software for other purposes that the company might need to run their everyday operation. Sometimes companies frequently over protect software for various reasons mostly the thought of losing money that could have been gained through the sale of the source code.

In a traditional method a company would sell the rights to use individual copies of software as their source of income using trademarks, copyrights, and patents. In the open source environment the revenues stream would vary from the traditional method in several ways. One way to make money through open source would be to give the program away and then charge for installation and support. Another way to generate money would be to customize the source code to fit individual companies.

The development of open source software is mainly a volunteer effort while closed source software development is usually a salary-driven effort. This volunteer effort could sometimes be less efficient and less focused than the closed source. One trend of improving the open source programming usually offers greater flexibility to the end user and allows them to modify the open source to fit their needs. Open source, which many will argue, is best because it is created through open and cooperative efforts. Closed source advocates say that since no one is responsible for the code there is no way to know if a volunteer has fixed the bug or problem with the software. Open source advocates says that with closed source software no one know what bugs exist because the vendor will not allow access to their source code. This will sometimes cause the software companies to charge more for fixing the problem or will release a new version that would also have to be purchased for the upgrade.

These are some items that educators will be discussing for sometime to come. You are well into the Information Age and hopefully have moved away from the Industrial Age techniques. Teaching our students to be passive purchasers of closed software is not enough. Just having the students move their mouse throughout the confines of the software is not helping our children think outside the box.

Students should be given the opportunity to see how their new software works and how the programmers put the code together. They should be given the opportunity to extend the code of the open source software and find other functions that could be helpful.