Open Source: Some Basics to Know

The first decade of twentieth century is just about to end next year and let’s take a look at how much technology has changed  human civilization. 
The Internet always makes amazingly rapid progress even when we are shutting our eyelids. New inventions pop out, novel ideas run amazingly fast and inconceivable breakthrough is continually made. Really, there seems nothing able to impress us like the virtual world.
And now, along comes the term ‘open source’. It is not new at all   if you are a computer geek or programmer or fervent enthusiast of the Internet. To me and many other laymen, however, the phrase sounds relatively new. I myself have always heard the buzz of open source but never knew what it was precisely like, all I knew was that Linux is one of the examples. That’s it. Not more. But now it’s time to educate me and you, dear readers, about what open source is concerned about.

  • Definition: Open source is an approach to the design, development, and distribution of software, offering practical accessibility to a software’s source code (wikipedia).
  • Why people love Open Source: Open source is much safer than licensed softwares like Windows. You can enjoy surfing the Internet with peace of mind as it is less likely for your operating system to get attacked by those diabolical viruses. It also provides  a new alternative to eradicate piracy once and for good. Say goodbye to those cracked operating systems and pirated illegal softwares!
  • Why people despise Open Source: There are some risks though if you have open source operating system on your computer. The most frequently heard downside is that open source softwares have some incompatibility issues with other hardwares and softwares.
  • Open source products: Probably GNU/ Linux operating system is the most celebrated open source product we know but you might need to know that there are many others such as Apache HTTP server, osCommerce (e-commerce platform), Mozilla Firefox.

And do you know that Indonesian government has started to migrate from proprietary softwares (for example Windows) to open source? But you may ask, why should we migrate to open source? Well, according to Richard M. Stallman ( a prominent figure in open source realm), an endeavor to be free from proprietary softwares could lessen dependency on licensed softwares that giant foreign multinational corporates produce. To rephrase, why must we pay if we can get it free?? It would be much better to allocate the part of  state budget (coming from taxes we pay) which is normally spent to  purchase closed source softwares/ proprietary softwares to something more worthwhile.

I suppose mr. Gates doesn’t really mind relinquishing his innumerable  number of his loyal Windows costumers who plan to or have turned to open source. After all he is already too affluent with his properties and bank accounts worth billion dollars. Right, mr. Gates?

(This post is written for Lomba Blog Open Source P2I-LIPI and Seminar Open Source P2I-LIPI 2009)

 Click this LIPI link for further information on the seminar.

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