"While relaxing this past Thanksgiving with my family, I asked
my Ph.D brother how he liked Linux Medical News newsletter he
replied that he liked the letter, particularly when my Chihuahua
Cindy speaks, but the articles 'are like a new language. I still
don't quite get what open source means.' He's not alone. It is time
to review the basics."
"Software is the stuff that drives computers, much like music on
a Compact Disk drives a stereo, or a TV set requires a broadcast in
order to be meaningful. Software is composed of odd little sonnets
to a computer that are frequently laboriously constructed by a
programmer. Here's a short example of the software that drives part
of LinuxMedicalNews. You don't have to understand any of it, just
know that it exists:
"The above is referred to as 'source code' since applying a
computer to the statements (code) above makes the computer perform
useful work. In this case a small part of what makes the poll on
the front page of LinuxMedNews work. In the terms of computer
programming, it is the 'source' for achieving that work. As you can
see from the source code example above, the intricacies of the
source code can be quite complex and hence, time consuming to make.
But once created, it can easily transmitted by floppy disk, CD-ROM
or the Internet and be reused by others. It can also be extended,
changed or fixed if it has an error. It becomes a concentrated
piece of knowledge, and one less thing for a programmer or software
engineer to spend time on. Good source code can greatly accelerate
what an engineer can create in a reasonable period of time."
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