Open Source: Outside the Box

conditioninspiredInternet and Web Development

Dec 4, 2013 (4 years and 7 months ago)


Open Source: Outside the Box

Outside the Proprietary Box

Innovation that sparks other innovations

Ex: AT&T and Carter Electronics (Carterfone)

AT&T had a monopoly on the market in the '60's
until Carter sued them. This integration of two
telephone technology sparked other innovations
such as the fax machine, answering machine and,
most notably, the modem.

Enormous consequences all because Carter made
the telephone market competitive and forced AT&T
to be more creative with their technology.

This is what Open Source is doing to the market.

Outside the Proprietary Box

Collaboration: Open Source depends on a
community of users and citizen developers to
continue developing and using the products.

Anyone with programming skills can make an
existing Open Source product their own.

Open Source is more about building
community than just putting out a product for

There are licenses but no licensing fees. This
is the economic aspect of Open Source. The
licenses encourage sharing and participation.

What is Open Source (aka OSS)?

Open Source
: The term is most commonly applied to the
source code of software that is available to the general public
with relaxed or non
existent intellectual property

The “open source” label came out of a strategy session held
in reaction to Netscape's January 1998 announcement of a
source code release for Navigator. The group of individuals at
the session included
Christine Peterson

who suggested
“open source”,
Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall,
Sam Ockman and Eric S. Raymond.

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) formed in February 1998 by
Raymond and Perens (Bruce)

... their goal was/is to
present the 'open source' case to commercial businesses.

Basic Terminology

Software is written as text (source code).

Software is most often distributed as an
application (binary) that runs in a specific
operating system and type of hardware

Source code is modified (compiled) and then
compiled to create another binary.

Free software and open source are in most
cases equivalent and may be found
abbreviated as FOSS or FLOSS.

The Beginning

Richard Stallman

Started writing free
utilities for Unix in 1984.

Launched the GNU
Project (OS).

Resigned from MIT and
founded the Free
Software Foundation in
1985. Resulted in GPL
(General Public License).

Created most of the
elements of a free OS,
except the kernel, by

Linus Torvalis

Linux (Kernel)

Wrote Linux in

It was released under
GPL, the software
license written by

Four Essential Software Freedoms

Freedom to run the program for any purpose.

Freedom to study how the program works ad
adapt it to meet your needs. Access to the source
code is a precondition for this.

Freedom to redistribute copies to help your
neighbors (community).

Freedom to improve the program and release your
improvements (part of GPL) to the public, so that
the community benefits.

For more about FSF go to

Common Model that Followed GPL

Linux = Operating System

Apache = Web (HTTP) Server

MySQL = Database Manager

Perl = Programming Language

Zackary Tirrel (technology consultant) says that

Library Technology
Reports (43:3

Page 6).

I would also add to this model Firefox as the Browser
of choice for Open Source.

More than a Term, It’s a Culture

Open source culture is one that promotes the free
sharing of found and created content.

The culture relies on participation from the users
(who provide regular feedback and enhancement
requests) and the developers (core and citizen).

It encourages community members to modify the
products and redistribute them back into the
community (a goal to continually improve the
original product).

It has been called a business model... one that
encourages collaboration, innovation and

Thus, the term Open Source Movement.

The Open ePolicy Group's Vision

From the ICT Harvard Berkman Center:


a synthesis of collaborative
creativity, connectivity, access and

is revolutionizing how we

Benefits of OSS

Ability to customize and
extend the basic features
to meet your needs.

It's an environment that
encourages collaboration
and innovation from the
users and developers.

Flexible formats.

Less vendor speak.

Sometimes free can
become fee which could
be a benefit if you're the

Most people that develop
open source do it because
they have a passion for it.

Eliminates the bottleneck
that happens with a lot of
enhancement requests for
proprietary software.

The right to experiment
and make it your own.

Economics: Better quality,
higher reliability, lower
costs and increased

Potential Downfalls

Projects get abandoned
and it's up to the
community to carry the
project forward.

No real standards

perpetual beta.

Copyright/Digital Rights
Management Issues do

If you plan to customize,
you need programming

Getting buy

Sometimes free becomes
fee, which means you
might have to pay for
something that you
previously received for

Just like with vendors, it
may take time to get all of
the features or
enhancements you want
in the product.

Sometimes a lot of

Examples of Good Use

Joomla at the South Carolina State Library:

Open Source Web Development Suite.

LibraryFind at OSU:

Federated Search (aka MetaSearch) & OpenURL

Examples of Good Use

Evergreen (ILS) in Georgia:

44 Libraries with 250 Locations

Includes Circulation, Cataloging and an OPAC that
uses faceted searching and FRBR
like records.


Greenstone Digital Library:

Examples of Good Use

State of Massachusetts (Productivity Suite):

In 2005, the state decided to move toward open file
formats for sharing electronic documents.

80,000 employees and 173 agencies were involved.

End result: Easier upgrades, more reliable, long
access to documents, better communication among
departments and better choice.

They didn't all have to use the same open source
software. They only had to use open source file

They hope this will lead to more competition in the
marketplace and therefore, lower costs.

Other Open Source for Libraries

Integrated Library
Systems (ILS):



Metasearch and
OpenURL Resolvers:



Digital Library and






What Makes OSS Successful?


allowing the exchange, reuse, interchangeability
and interpretation of data across diverse architectures.


focus is on fulfilling the needs of the user keeping
in mind their potential hardware/software constraints.


permitting stakeholders to create, grow and
reform the OSS community to leverage their strengths, solve
common problems, innovate and build upon the existing


maintaining a balance while addressing
organizational, technical, financial and legal issues in a manner
that allows the community to thrive.


adopting seamlessly and quickly to new information,
technologies, protocols and relationships.

From Chapter 7 of
Library Technology Reports

Licensed Freedom

Freedoms associated with Free Open Source Software
are still protected by software licenses that vary:

GPL (GNU General Public License): Adheres to the FSF's
Four Essential Freedoms so users can:

Use the code for any purpose.

Redistribute the code to anyone else as long as it still bears
the GPL license.

Modify the existing code and create a new product that is
also released with a GPL license.

BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution): Also allows
redistribution but has less restrictions on that redistribution.



for more information about OSS

Your Thoughts?

Global impact?

Impact on Libraries?

Your experiences with OSS?

Additional Questions or Thoughts?

Additional Resources


for downloads of OSS

Open AL:

3D audio for gaming.

Media Coder:

Converts files to different formats.


Vendor in OSS Software.

Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution

Book by
Steven Levy.

Revolution OS Documentary:

Library Technology Reports

(43:3) Entire issue devoted
to Open Source Software.


Instead of reading an article, go look at the open
source software available.

Download an application or review a demo of it.

Record your experience with the application,
potential uses for it in a library, if there are any
modifications that would need to be made to make it
use of Open Source Software in

3 pages at the most.

Feel free to use articles or web resources to
supplement the paper.