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LinuxWorld: What is open source?

Sep 28, 2000, 02:22 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Joe Barr)

"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 bazaar."

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