Open source movement: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The open source movement is a broad-reaching movement comprised both officially and unofficially of individuals that feel that software should be produced altruistically. Programmers who support the open source movement philosophy contribute to the open source community by voluntarily writing and exchanging programming code for software development[1].This approach to software development allows anyone to obtain and modify open source code. These modifications are distributed back to the developers within the open source community of people who are working with the software. In this way, the identities of all individuals participating in code modification are disclosed and the transformation of the code is documented overtime[2]. This method makes it difficult to establish ownership of a particular bit of code but is in keeping with the open source movement philosophy. These goals promote the production of “high quality programs” as well as “working cooperatively with other similarly minded people” to improve open source technologies[1].



The Open Source Movement is branched from the free software movement which began in the late 80s with the launching the GNU/Linux project by Richard Stallman[2]. Stallman is regarded within the open source community as sharing a key role in the conceptualization of freely shared source code for software development[2]. The term “free software” in the free software movement is meant to imply freedom of software exchange and modification. The term does not refer to any monetary freedom[2]. Both the free software movement and the open source movement share this view of free exchange of programming code, and this is often why both of the movements are sometimes referenced in literature as part of the FOSS or “Free and Open Software” or FLOSS “Free/Libre Open Source” communities.

These movements share fundamental differences in the view on open software. The main, factionalizing difference between the groups is the relationship between open source and propriety software. Often makers of proprietary software, such as Microsoft, may make efforts to support open source software to remain competitive[3]. Members of the open source community are willing to coexist with the makers of propriety software[2] and feel that the issue of whether software is open source is a matter of practicality[2].

In contrast, members of the free software community maintain the vision that all software is a part of freedom of speech[2] and that proprietary software is unethical and unjust[2]. The free software movement openly champions this belief through talks that denounce propriety software. As a whole the community refuses to support propriety software.

While cognizant of the fact that both it and the open source movement share similarities in practical recommendations regarding open source, the free software movement fervently continues to distinguish themselves from the open source movement entirely[2]. The free software movement maintains that it has fundamentally different attitudes towards the relationship between open source and propriety software. The free software community does not view the open source community as their target grievance, however. Their target grievance is propriety software itself[2].


In February 1998 the open source movement was adopted, formalized, and spearheaded by the Open Source Initiative (OSI), an organization formed to market software “as something more amenable to commercial business use”[2]The OSI owns the trademark “Open Source[1] Open Source Developments

Overall, the software developments that have come out of the open source movement have not been unique to the computer science field, but they have been successful in developing alternatives to propriety software. Members of the open source community improve upon code and write programs that can rival much of the propriety software that is already available.[2]

Examples of software that have come out of the Open Source Movement


  • The collaborative nature of the open source community creates software that can offer customizability and, as a result, promotes the adoption of its products.[7]
  • The open source community promotes the creation of software that is not proprietary, thus resulting in lower costs.[7]
  • The development of open source software within the community is motivated by the individual who has expressed interest in the code and software creation. This differs from proprietary software that is often motivated via monetary means.[7].


  • The structure of the open source community requires that individuals have programming expertise in order to engage in open code modification and exchange. Individuals interested in supporting the open source movement may lack this skill set.[2]
  • Programmers and developers comprise a large percentage of the open source community and sought-out technical support may not be useful or clear to open source software lay-users.[7]
  • The structure of the open source community is one which involves contributions of multiple developers and programmers; software produced in this fashion may lack standardization and be incompatible with various computer applications and capabilities.[7]

Evidence of Open Source Adoption

The following are events and applications that have been developed via the open source community as and echo the ideologies of the open source movement.[2]

OpenCourseWare Consortium — organization composed various colleges that supported the open source software. This organization was headed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was established to aid in the exchange of open source educational materials.[2]

Wikipedia — user generated online encyclopedia that had branched into many other academic areas such as Wikiversity — a community dedicated to the creation and exchange of learning materials[2]

Project Gutenberg — prior to the exist of Google Scholar Beta, this was the first supplier of electronic books and the very first free library project[2]

Google — this search engine has led the way in transformation of Web-based applications, such as books, scholarly journals, that are based primarily on open source software.[2] Google continues to make applications based on open software. Recently, in November 2009, Google announced that it would be “enabling people everywhere to find, and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state districts, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar”[3]

Microsoft and Apache — Microsoft, a leading producer of proprietary software increased its participation and contribution to the open source community to remain marketable. In 2008, Microsoft made a commitment to the Apache Software Foundation , and pledged $100,000 a year to the Apache Software Foundation. It renewed this pledge in November 2009 stating that “We’re happy to share another milestone in our work with open source communities.”[3]

Government agencies and infrastructure software — Government Agencies are utilizing opens source infrastructure softwares, like the Linux operating system and the Apache Web-server into software, to manage information.[3].

Ideologically Related Movements

The Open Access Movement is a movement that is similar in ideology to the open source movement. Members of this movement maintain that academic material should be readily available to provide help with “future research, assist in teaching and aid in academic purposes.” The Open Access Movement aims to eliminate subscription fees and licensing restrictions of academic materials[3]

The Free Culture Movement is a movement that seeks to achieve a culture in that engages in collective freedom via freedom of expression, free public access to knowledge and information, full demonstration of creativity and innovation in various arenas and promotion of citizen liberties.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d Wyllys, R.E. (2000). Overview of the Open-Source Movement. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from The University of Texas at Austin Graduate School of Library & Information Science:
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Warger, T. (2002). The Open Source Movement. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from Education Resources Information Center:
  3. ^ a b c d e Taft, D. K. (2009, November 3). Microsoft Recommits to $100k Apache Contribution at ApacheCon. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from eWeek:
  4. ^ Langley, N. (2007). Apache is the big chief in the world of web servers. Computer Weekly, 34. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.
  5. ^ a b c d e Metcalfe, R. (200p, October 13). Examples of Open Source Software. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from OSS Watch:
  6. ^ The PHP Group. (2009, November 20). What is PHP? Retrieved November 22, 2009, from PHP:
  7. ^ a b c d e Webb, M. (2001, July 18). Going With Open Source Software. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from techsoup:
  8. ^ Students For Free Cultue. (2009). Main Page. Retrieved November 22, 2009, from


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