Brief definition of open sourceEdit

According to (Deek & Mc Hugh, 2008)[1] open source is described as “a product of free of direct cost, often superior in terms of portability and anyone can modify the code because we can see the code and its allowed by the licensing requirements”.

Moreover, this opinion is supported by (Wheeler, 2014)[2], a famous renowned computer scientist known for his work upon open source software and computer security, where he stated the definition is similar with add on of “without having to pay royalties to previous developers”.

How does open source work?Edit

The key element of the open source process, as an ideal type, is voluntary participation and voluntary selection of tasks (Weber, 2004)[3]. Anyone can join an open source project and anyone can leave at any time. This is not just a free market in labor. What makes it different from the theoretical option of exit from a corporation is that each person is free to choose what he chooses to work on or to contribute (Weber, 2004)[3].

There is no consciously organized or enforced division of labor. In fact the underlying notion of a division of labor doesn’t fit the open source process at all. The ideal type open source process revolves around a core code base (Weber, 2004). The source code for that core is available freely. Anyone can obtain it, usually over the Internet and anyone can modify the code freely, for his or her own use. From this point, the process differs among projects, depending largely on how they are licensed. Anyone can do almost anything with this code, including creating from it a proprietary product that ships without source code (Weber, 2004)[3].

The key to open source process is only partly what individuals do for themselves with the source code, It is also in what and how individuals contribute back to the collective project (Weber, 2004)[3]. An individual whose code path gets rejected always has a clear alternative path. He can take the core codem incorporate the patch, set the package up as a new open source project and invite other to join his project (Weber, 2004)[3]. This is called forking the code base or simply “forking” (Weber, 2004)[3]. Open source guarantees this right, in fact, some developers believe that the essential freedom of free software is precisely the right to fork the code at any time.

History of Open SourceEdit

In the 1940s, computing was at its early stages and was mainly used due to its quick mathematical calculation. Mathematicians or engineers develop programs to help them in their research. Since it has contributed a lot to the human race through processing arithmetic calculation, commercial software was not considered and software was shared freely. Computers then started expanding from solving scientific problems to processing business data. Programs were made to do automated tasks such as completing and obtaining data. Speed and accuracy became more important here. Compared to scientific applications, business applications deals with large number of inputs and outputs. Unfortunately memory capacity was very limited and input and output peripherals were very slow and inefficient at the time. This caused conflict that splits programmers who code efficiently and programmers who code that is easily understood, well-documented and clear.

Due to these problems, creativity and resourcefulness is important for a programmer. In the 1950s, it became a great achievement to have a program to be able to run, and it would then be widely shared. Example is PACT (Project for Advancement of Coding Techniques) established in 1953 was a collaboration between two parties that were competing with each other. The programmers persuaded the management of efficiency benefits which resulted in the motivation for this collaboration.

This concept of software development for business expanded rapidly and till the 1960s, the use of computers in business was more than it was in the scientific field. The US government forbid AT&T from entering the computing markets which secured the inability of Unix operating systems developed in 1969 to be sold commercially. The source code was then distributed to universities and research institutions for a standard fee. (J. Feller & B. Fitzgerald, 2002)[4]


  1. Deek, F. P., & Mc Hugh, J. A. (2008). Open Source: Technology and Policy. New York: Cambridge University Press
  2. Wheeler, D. A. (2014, May 8). Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS, FOSS or FLOSS)? Look at the Numbers! Retrieved May 16, 2015 from David A. Wheeler:
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Weber, S. (2004). The success of open source. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  4. J. Feller & B. Fitzgerald, (2002). Understanding Open Source Software Development.