LinuxWorld: What is open source?
Sep 28, 2000, 02:22 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Barr)
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"Winer is a bright, literate software professional. At first
blush I thought his negative tone about open source and his
confusion about the topic were simply the result of classic ingroup
vs. outgroup thinking: a legacy programmer writing proprietary code
versus the free and open source revolution that is turning the
software world on its head. That and perhaps a bit of fear about
the inevitability of free software and the impact that might have
on his economic well-being...."
"'A program is said to be open source if the full source code
for the program is available publicly with no constraints on how it
can be used,'" Winer said. Under that definition, the only thing
that qualifies as open source is public domain software. Every
license places some constraint, or else there would be no point in
having it in the first place...."
"Winer then proceeds, using his own definition, to the
conclusion that the GNU project is not open source since the GPL
puts constraints on the use of the software. The GNU project list
of programs includes Emacs, GIMP, GNOME, GCC, and about 150 others.
But many other programs are covered by the GPL, even though they
are not directly a part of the GNU Project. The Linux kernel, for
example. Imagine the disappointment of the thousands of programmers
around the globe who have worked on GPL'd software when they learn
that Winer has revoked their visas to live and work in the