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Open Source

One thing I'm very fond of is Open Source software. Or better Free Software (please see the difference ).

I think it's really important for the quality of software to release the source code and to give others the opportunity to take that code and either learn from your code so that their software will be better or they actively make your code better by modifying it.

Many people wonder what makes people writing free software? They could earn money with doing the same! First, free software doesn't mean that you can't earn money with your software. Well, not in the traditional ways (despite it is possible, Richard Stallman sells the gnu-utilities for just $60 ;-). Have a look at Frank Hecker's "setting up shop" paper for a deeper insight to that.

For me (and i think the most others too) the main reason for writing free software is learning more about programming, gain experience in new technologies and working in a team on a specific software. That are invaluable experiences that make you a better coder!
Another reason is of course a little ego satisfaction ;-). Yes, it's always great to see that others use your software and you get some feedback.

Free Software development is a bit different from conventional software development (see eric raymond's paper "the cathedral and the bazaar"). It's only written at all and written in that particular way because the author want's it, not because it is a company's interest. Many people resigned from the Mozilla project because it left little room for the individual author's ideas. Static timelines in a big company aren't much fun (see Jamie Zawinski's "resignation and postmortem" for his view about the Mozilla project).

In my opinion the Free Software model works and it is even possible that it someday takes the place of conventional software development.

May the source be with you...

Written sometime around the year 1999/2000.


Copylight (cc) 2001-2006 Stephan Uhlmann. Last change: 2007-01-08
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