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Basics of Open Source Coding

Basics of Open Source Coding - PCSTATS
Abstract: The programs that run the text you're reading right now, are probably configured in such a way as to prevent your tampering with them. But Open -Source seeks to change all that.
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External Mfg. Website: none Oct 05 2000   S. Dennis  
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Free Software Leads to Commercial Software

Open sourcing has led to so many breakthroughs that now commercial software companies are jumping on the openwagon -- with a few important distinctions in their openness, of course. Netscape is developing an open source browser called Mozilla, and in the interests of keeping it, well, not exactly open -- more like slightly ajar -- the company has created its own version of GPL. The Netscape Public License (NPL) allows users to contribute code to Netscape software, but it also gives Netscape the right to take those contributions and market them commercially (i.e., non-openly). The Mozilla Public License (MPL), another Netscape innovation, prevents the use of GPL codes on MPL-protected applications. Which restricts the programming substantially, of course.

Even the most open of open sourcings has its drawbacks. The main one is known as code forking. This happens when one project splits into two nearly-identical projects. The problem with forking is that those projects will potentially lead to programs that will be incompatible. Luckily, the open sourcing community (made up for the most part of programmers who work for free in their spare time) is strongly against forking. Peer pressure within this community is palpable and powerful. While there is obviously no law against writing two very similar types of code (when all codes are legal), the structure of the open sourcing community renders forking mutually detrimental to all parties.

For now, while you read this text and navigate the web, you're still relying for the greatest part on software that's copyrighted and immutable. Given the strength of the market, this is not likely to change anytime soon. But open sourcing remains one of the most remarkable ways for computer technology to evolve -- before everybody's eyes.

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 Pg 1.  Basics of Open Source Coding
 Pg 2.  — Free Software Leads to Commercial Software

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