Open Source Evolution

Overview

Enterprise Open Source Software is continuously gaining acceptance in business organizations. This is essentially due to the understanding of the potential benefits deriving from the adoption of OSS project solution. Indeed, Open Source Software solutions offer great opportunities for cost reduction and quality improvement, especially for small and medium enterprises that typically have to address major difficulties due to the limited resources. In this direction it is relevant understand and gain knowledge regarding the evolution of such software over systems the time. This paper report results of an empirical study aimed at analysing the evolution of most relevant ERP open source system during their lifetime.

What is Open Source Software?

Open Source

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software distributed with its source code available for modification. The software usually includes a license for programmers to change the software in any way they choose. They can fix bugs, improve functions, or adapt the software to suit their own needs. The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a leading authority on OSS; their definition of open-source software complies with rules under 10 criteria.

These include:

  • Software redistribution
  • Source code availability
  • Distribution of licenses
  • License properties
  • Anti-discrimination

Why Open Source?

Commercially available software, or proprietary software, doesn’t give access to its source code because the software is someone else’s intellectual property, as a result, users often pay for it.

OSS, on the other hand, is a collaborative effort — the software is shared intellectual property among all who have helped develop or alter it.

Open Source entails the free availability of source code and distribution. Free software, in like manner, includes code modification but emphasizes the freedoms users enjoy to do what they like with the software.

In addition, software can be classified as freeware. This means users download the software at no cost, but they cannot make any changes to its source code.

Advantages of Open-Source Software

While cost is a driving factor, OSS has several additional benefits:

  • High-quality results when the source code is passed around, tested and fixed.
  • It is a valuable learning opportunity for programmers. They can learn and apply skills to the most popular programs available today.
  • Many consider open-source software more secure than proprietary software because bugs are identified and fixed quickly.
  • Since open-source software is in the public domain, there is little chance it can become unavailable. This is important for long-term projects that rely on these tools for the duration of the project.
  • Most of the software is free. Costs may arise later, however, such as subscriptions or support fees.

Popular Types of Open-Source Software

Open-source technologies helped establish much of the internet.

Furthermore, many of the programs you and I use every day are based on open-source technologies. For example, Android OS and Apple’s OS X are based on the kernel and Unix/BSD open-source technologies, respectively.

Other popular open-source software is:

  • Mozilla’s Firefox web browser
  • Thunderbird email client
  • PHP scripting language
  • Python programming language
  • Apache HTTP web server
  • database system

Brief History

For those who entered the IT industry in the late 2000s, open source software is part of the norm. For them, there isn’t a time when open source software was not free and available to everyone, and permeating through almost every facet of technology.

But those who have been with open source from the beginning know that such was not always the case. As open source stands at the brink of technological breakthroughs, we remember its past and look forward to its promising future.

It’s unclear exactly when open sourcing truly began, but many would agree that it started way back in the ‘80s when software was free by default and sharing of code was widespread. It was during this time that Richard Stallman emerged and founded the free software movement, which brought the concept of open source out into the world and gave it the firm foundation on which it now stands. The movement saw the creation of the GNU Project and Free Software Foundation, but it was a struggle. Open source remained at the sidelines for most of this time, as proprietary software reigned supreme. For Stallman and his peers, establishing free and open source software was a moral crusade, and an uphill battle.

By the 1990s to 2000s a new kind of movement emerged. Linus Torvalds created the Linux kernel and because of it, more people were able to use open source operating systems and improve them to a level that was competitive with proprietary platforms.

Unlike the programmers of Stallman’s time, Torvalds and his peers’ primary motivations for moving open source forward were not moral but functional. They viewed it as the more efficient way to code, and way less expensive than its proprietary counterparts. Despite this industry-aligned motivation and the developments that arose from it, open sourcing was still a much-debated issue. Many a programmer had to battle with giants like Microsoft for using open source software.

Open Source Today

Fast forward to today and we can clearly see that open source is no longer an issue, it’s the norm. In fact, it’s steadily making its way into practically every area of technology, even creating job opportunities that were once non-existent. Its value is no longer questioned, it is widely known and embraced. It’s not just created by individuals sitting at the side-lines anymore, it’s created by large corporations too. And with plenty of developments still on the way, there’s no doubt that the scope and significance of open source can only increase.

The Future

Open source won. Open, free and transparent software projects will continue to dominate the way software is built and run on the internet.

As of late, big corporations Yahoo, IBM, Facebook and even Microsoft have slowly but surely gone the open source route. These companies have each announced open source projects and plans, with a big chance of more to follow. There’s also been news of open source making its way into the Internet of Things courtesy of the Linux Foundation.

With the strides it’s been making, it seems clear that open source is headed somewhere good.

However, as cloud computing marches towards a utility service the vast majority of the software written and the open source software adopted will lease utility cloud services for very pragmatic reasons.

This started years ago around AWS S3. Important open source infrastructure like RubyGems and the Docker Registry happily delegate storage responsibilities to S3 so they can focus on building great tools and APIs and not worry about tough challenges around data durability.

Convox is working to advance this trend. The Convox project is developed in the open for all the philosophical reasons, embracing the pragmatism of leveraging cloud services when possible provided they hit an acceptable quality and cost bar.

This presents a pragmatic approach to all of us. You can maximize the time you spend writing business software and minimize the time worrying about infrastructure by:

  • Building your business software on top of open source technology
  • Delegating the boring parts of configuring cloud infrastructure to open source infrastructure tools like Convox, etc.
  • Paying for the utility cloud services, built largely on open source, that your infrastructure tools leverage

You’ll know you’re in the future when:

  • Your development team is shipping bug fixes and features that make your customers happy daily
  • The platform below is largely invisible
  • The infrastructure is automatically getting more reliable and affordable over time
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