Open Source Software Essay

Total Length: 1916 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 9

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The term "open source software" has been used to refer to computer software whose source code is available for public use, either exactly the way it is, or after certain alterations are made to it. Such software normally requires no license fee. OSS applications are available for various purposes like web design, communications, office automation, content management, and operating systems (Necas & Klapetek, 2012). One major difference between proprietary software and OSS is license. Just like copyright material, one will nearly always find that software is licensed. Software licenses reveal what use the software is intended for. OSSs are unique as they are always distributed under certified licenses for meeting open source criteria (Gaff & Ploussios, 2012), including the rights of unrestricted software redistribution, source code access, source code modification, and distribution of the software's modified version.



Review of literature



OSS originates from the following 3 operating systems' creation -- Linux, UNIX, and GNU. Right from the start, OSS has been linked closely to academia. The origins of UNIX lie in the 60's joint venture between Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Bell Labs, for developing the novel "Multics" operating system. Drawing on that project, a few programmers came up with the flexible UNIX operating system (Gaff & Ploussios, 2012). Educational institutions could buy source codes of UNIX at an appreciably lower price compared to that demanded from governmental and business organizations.



The main reasons for the adoption of OSS by government and public organization is transparency, citizen access cost, and more efficient communication and service delivery. Fitzgerald et al. (2011) analyze five cases of the adoption of OSS in public organizations and develop an overarching conceptual framework to explain the enablers and inhibitors of adoption of OSS in public organizations. Through this review, the authors provide a useful resource for academicians, practitioners, and policymakers. The analysis is done through a comparative analysis of the five cases and the themes used are motivation, technology, strategies, social and economics, and the impact of adoption on theory and practice (Fitzgerald et al. 2011).



Analysis of the review



While reading Gaff & Ploussios (2012), the perception gained by the reader is that the authors intend to provide an accurate and authoritative informative piece regarding the matter of origin and adoption of OSS. The paper lays emphasis on the licensure of OSS, and the various types of license available. The paper is provided based on the understanding that the most authoritative regulatory bodies in the field; IEEE and IEEE Computer Society are willing to provide legal, professional, or accounting guidelines on the matter.
Therefore, for any party that seeks either legal or expert advice on OSS, then the services of another professional and competent individual should be sought.



The Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of MIT initiated a similar project aimed at code enhancement by passing the source code among its programmers. However, IT advancements at the time resulted in the project losing momentum. In the year 1984, Richard Stallman, a programmer, launched the GNU Project (Fitzgerald et al., 2011). The GNU's General Public License (GPS) enables its users to change the source code and release the changed version for use by others, under the very same license. GNU did not have a kernel though, until one was developed by Linus Torvalds. In the year 1992, this kernel became integrated into GNU's operating system. With time, Linux grew in sophistication with the aid of dedicated programmers whose job was attempting improvements on the kernel; thus, Linux-adapted software was created. The years that followed saw the launch of a number of enhanced and commercial Linux versions by vendors like Mandriva, Novell, and Red Hat. Linux continues to be available as a free OSS.



Comparison of Fitzgerald et al. (2011) and Gaff & Ploussios (2012)



Both paper agree that the present-day open software involves more products compared to close Internet-related ones. One can see OSSs, operating systems, special systems and cooperation systems. Concurrently, a number of systems profit through the Internet, making digital cooperation among geographically-distinct entities possible. The Danish public sector and the entire European Union are switching to digital communications when supplying public services -- citizens are situated at the core of this initiative. In other words, coherent services must be provided on a larger level, calling for collaboration among administrative entities and between EU administrative levels, local and county authorities, and national governments (Fitzgerald et al., 2011; Gaff & Ploussios, 2012). Such change urgently requires IT systems for e-governance (e.g., with respect to exchange alternatives among authorities, on security the exchange occurs with, and with the masses. OSS in e-governance poses both opportunities and challenges.



Gaff & Ploussios (2012) argues that a switch to e-governance will require substantial IT investments in the coming years. Hence, it is natural to closely assess the IT meant to be invested in, its application, and who will be in charge of the ownership and creation of basic e-governance technologies. The above activity will boost interest in opportunities unfolding from OSS, making the discussion of OSS's potential application in e-governance relevant as well as economically profitable. On the….....

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References


Fitzgerald, B., Kesan, J.P., Russo, B., Shaikh, M. & Succi, G. (2011). Adopting Open Source Software: A Practical Guide. Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.

Gaff, B. M., & Ploussios, G. J. (2012). Open source software. Computer,45(6), 9-11.

Guzzi, A., Bacchelli, A., Lanza, M., Pinzger, M., & Deursen, A. V. (2013, May). Communication in open source software development mailing lists. In Proceedings of the 10th Working Conference on Mining Software Repositories (pp. 277-286). IEEE Press.

Lerner, J. (2013). The comingled code: Open source and economic development. MIT Press Books, 1.

Maurer, Stephen & Scotchmer, Suzanne. (2006). Open Source Software: The New Intellectual Property Paradigm, NBER Working Paper 12148.

Necas, D., & Klapetek, P. (2012). Gwyddion: an open-source software for SPM data analysis. Open Physics, 10(1), 181-188.

Spinellis, D., & Giannikas, V. (2012). Organizational adoption of open source software. Journal of Systems and Software, 85(3), 666-682.

Vetter, Greg R. (2004). The Collaborative Integrity of Open Source Software, Utah L. Rev. 563

Vetter, Greg R. (2009). Commercial Free and Open Source Software: Knowledge Production, Hybrid Appropriability, and Patents, 77 Fordham L. Rev. 2087
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