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Open Source

The practice of making the source code for software freely available to all, so that anyone can fix or improve it - TWiki is an example of this, since anybody can examine and improve the TWiki source code.

The Internet itself is powered mainly by open source software, and it's debatable whether it could even have existed without open source technology. Open source also supports many intranets and TWiki sites, using software such as:

  • Apache - most popular Web server, with over 60% of the world market. This survey has some market share data for Apache, Linux and other open source tools.
  • Linux - the second most popular server OS after Windows, with 27% of the market as of Feb 2001, used (officially or otherwise) somewhere within the majority of large corporations; invested in by the likes of IBM and Intel. See also: TWikiOnLinux
  • FreeBSD - a Unix operating system that is the basis for MacOS X, Yahoo websites, Juniper routers and more, and derived from the original Bell Labs Unix - see also: TWikiOnFreeBSD
  • NetBSD - a BSD Unix that focuses on portability to many different platforms - see also: TWikiOnNetBSD
  • OpenBSD - an open source BSD Unix variant with a particular focus on high security
  • Perl - popular scripting language, used by TWiki and other Web applications - see also: PerlTips, ActivePerl and Wiki:PerlLanguage
  • Cygwin - a Unix-like environment for Windows - see also: WindowsInstallCookbook and TWikiOnCygwin
  • Mozilla - a fully-featured web browser that is the basis for Netscape 6+ and many other browsers
  • BIND - the DNS server that resolves most of the domain names on the Internet
  • sendmail - the most popular mail transport in the world
  • MySQL - a widely deployed SQL database, used by SlashDot and many other websites
  • PostgreSQL - an open source Object-Relational database, optimized not for speed and simplicity as with MySQL, but for robust transaction support as with Oracle - see also: PostgreSQL.info site
  • PHP - a rapidly and widely adopted, HTML-embedded scripting language, relatively easy to learn, optimized to work with MySQL; loosely, an alternative to Perl for Web development.
  • MidnightCommander - non-GUI but still visual file manager. A must have for new admins with Windows background, IMO.

Open source means that software can evolve rapidly - changes can be made by (technical) users of the software, not just by the vendor. The result is that open source software is frequently very stable and featureful. Popular applications often develop worldwide communities of contributors. Major corporations may also release heavily developed proprietary software to open source (ex: Sun's StarOffice/OpenOffice; Netscape's MozillaBrowser), and also adopt existing open source for internal development, releasing their mods as open source additions.

OpenSourceLicensing is a key concept in OpenSource - by defining suitable copyright-based licenses, those who use the software are granted certain rights, and in some cases required to pass on those rights to others. FreeSoftware is a similar but not identical concept.

See http://www.opensource.org/ and Wiki:OpenSource for more information, http://commons.ca/articles/fulltext.shtml?x=335

TWiki is written in Perl in a Linux/Apache environment, uses the open source GNU RCS application for version control, and is developed under the GNU Free Software Foundation's GPL (General Public License). TWiki is copyright © Peter Thoeny. This site - TWiki.org - runs on Linux/Apache.

-- RichardDonkin - 13 Jan 2002
-- MikeMannix - 13 Jan 2002
-- PeterMasiar - 13 Jan 2002
-- JoachimDurchholz - 14 Jan 2002
-- MichaelSparks - 14 Jan 2002


There's an interesting survey of studies comparing OpenSource software to proprietary software, covering market share, performance, security, reliability, etc.

-- RichardDonkin - 21 Apr 2002

Interesting article about why in Peru, all government goes to OpenSource. It is a response of one very smart Peruvian Congressman to FUD letter from Microsoft. Explains that OpenSource is free to use, not free of charge, gives better learning opportunity to peruvian IT folks, better security, and better value for state (because MS own research states that purchase price is only 8% of total cost). Nice reading. Best part is when he is rebuking MS's FUD about no guarantees to being usable. He notes, that MS package doesn't guaranteed more.

-- PeterMasiar - 09 May 2002

Found a very concise slide from Boston Consulting group summarising some key points about open source developers - what motivates them, what sort of people they are, and what the community is like. I think the points apply to me pretty well, except I'm not a GenerationXer wink

-- RichardDonkin - 23 Feb 2003

http://www.economist.com/business/displayStory.cfm?story_id=2054746 talks about Microsoft and why the Open Source value proposition is so scary for them.

-- MartinCleaver - 11 Dec 2003

Analysis of the Apache Opensource project and its team structure: http://opensource.ucc.ie/icse2002/HannRobertsSlaughterFielding.pdf

-- MartinCleaver - 13 Dec 2003

Motives through the eyes of a lawyer http://aei-brookings.org/admin/pdffiles/php6Z.pdf

-- MartinCleaver - 15 Dec 2003

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Topic revision: r23 - 2007-02-18 - RichardDonkin
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