Get the best tech support and pay the lowest price on any Web hosting package with Avantex. Click here for more information.

SureMail™ is the most reliable email service there is. Get less spam and less email virusses. Unlimited autoresponders. Learn more by clicking here.
Get a free domain name when you host your site with Sun Hosting. Your choice of Linux or Windows. Click here.

Save thousands of dollars by building your own Web site. No programming skills necessary. No software to download or install. Learn more by clicking here.

What is really meant by the term open source?

Add to     Digg this story Digg this

January 26, 2009

Over the past few months, you've probably been reading news or IT magazines that suggest open source will be doing very well in 2009, or you may have heard people say that 2009 will be a lot better than 2008 was when referring to FOSS (free and open source software).

But what exactly is meant by the term "open source" and which business model does the term really target anyway? It is clear that there are still some out there that aren't really sure.

At any rate, we sometimes assume, correctly or not, that other people mean the same thing as we do in the same words they use, but the truth can sometimes be a lot different.

The real meaning behind the term Open Source or FOSS is worth examining more closely, especially when an IT vendor or systems' integrator is trying to sell your company some goods destined to your IT department or end users.

For example, Microsoft representatives generally try to establish a world view sympathetic to their own cause by talking as if the accepted distinction in the open source arena is between commercial and non-commercial. They will say that at any open-source event or symposium they they participate in. However, Microsoft's definition of open source is grossly inaccurate and is certainly meant to confuse people.

It's a lot more accurate to say that open source's true distinction is between proprietary and non-proprietary software. By the way, that is exactly the term that is officially being used by IP (intellectual property) lawyers in court rooms all over the world!

The inaccurate distinction between commercial and non-commercial software is simply designed to imply that only proprietary software is acceptable commercially! In other words, companies and various organizations of all sizes should keep acquiring proprietary software and various applications and leave the non-proprietary variety to hobbyists?

Hummm... (!) Is this really how it should work?

Technically speaking, FOSS business models can and should exist on a scale from "software lock-in" to software "lock-out", ie- more freedom for all its users.

Of course, moving up the scale results in much lower costs and results in important savings for those that embrace open source 'natively' as it is often referred to.

For an IT vendor, IS consultant or systems integrator, open source simply means a shift from a product-oriented (read- commercial) world view to a service-oriented one. Or is it?

Here are 5 main but important items on the open source scale:

  • Commercial open source: This business model is essentially proprietary, with some open source ideology thrown in as a "sweetener" of some sort.
  • (Please click here for page 2.)

    Add to     Digg this story Digg this

    Get rid of email spam and email viruses. Click here for more details.

    home | news archives | advertise with us | contact

    Copyright © OS Today.   

    All logos or service marks on this website are the property of their respective companies.