Open Source Software

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A hamster and a computer keyboard

Everybody likes something for free, but the worry is that if it's 'free' it's either only worth the money you paid for it, or that there's a catch. But in the world of computers - a realm that is baffling to most of the people forced to use them every day - lots of programs and applications are available to all for absolutely no cost. Still, if you're the sort of person who actually understands how programs work, you might already know that the best way to get free software is to build it yourself.

The term 'Open Source' software loosely means that a programmer - or group of programmers - has revealled the code for their software to the world and licensed others to comment on and improve it. Everyone involved is driven by a belief that what they're doing is for the good of all, and so any contribution is offered freely and without thoughts for monetary gain (sound familiar yet?). In effect, it's 'Communism for Computers', only without the red stars and funny hats.

This collaborative topic hopes to examine what the term 'Open Source software' means, who uses it and what people's experiences of the philosophy are.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is it really free?

  • What is the difference between all the different types of licence - and does the type of licence really matter?

  • Are Open Source applications any good? Can you use Open Source Applications on commercial operating systems?

  • Are Open Source operating systems as good as commercial operating systems?

  • What are the benefits and what are the pitfalls?

Please note: we can't possibly include discussions about specific companies - so whatever you do, don't turn this into a chance to attack any familiar major players in the computer industry. They'll only sulk.

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