Open Source software & its Licensing

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How Open Source Technology is useful these days for Software Development. Licensing also plays major role in it.

Background to Study

When we say Open source the first thing that comes in our mind is something that is open & easily available to all, for e.g. Operating System like GNU/Linux and its applications. This was before 30 years but now a days there are number of open source software's that are available. GNU/Linux has a long history that goes back to the creation of UNIX (1969) and lots more.

UNIX came as a big change against all those burdensome propriety operating shipped by various hardware vendors. In contrast UNIX was developed by a small number of people. In summer 1969 UNIX was developed at Bell Telephone Laboratory whose original name was UNICS. Ken Thompson was the initiator and Dennis Ritchie and Rudd Canaday were active contributors. The main purpose was to create a pleasant environment for them. UNIX turned out to be easy to use and understand when compared to other competitors. The most important factor that made UNIX such a popular was the source code which was free in beginning. Later when AT&T realised that they had in UNIX of some great values and tried to capitalize on that, universities were forbidden to use the source code in education. This motivated Andy Tananbaum to write MINIX, from where Linus Torvalds got his inspiration to write a Kernel for his Intel 386, the Kernel that later became Linux.

Linus Torvalds a student of university of Helsinki bought a personal computer with an Intel 80386 processor, 4 megabytes of memory, and a 40 megabytes hard drive - quaint in today's computing environment, but quite a powerful personal setup for 1991. This personal computer also came with Microsoft DOS (disk operating system) as its standard software but Torvalds was not at all interested in DOS. He always liked the technical approach of UNIX operating system which he was learning in his school. Torvalds came to know about Minix which is a simplified Unix clone in 1990 which was written as teaching tool by Professor Tanenbaum at Vrije University in Amsterdam. Minix started running on all personal computers and its code was available for less than $100 on floopy disks. Torvalds installed this code on his PC and started building the kernel of his own Unix like operating system, using Minix as the scaffolding. Torvalds in autumn 1991 let go of the Minix scaffold and released the source code for the kernel of his new operating system, which he called Linux. In 1994 the first official linux, version 1.0 was released by Torvalds. Linux became a major technological and market phenomenon at the end of the decade. And in 1999 Linux became a public relations phenomenon. (Weber, 2004)

Aims and Objectives to Study

Initially computers were used as a research tools when they first reached universities. Software was easily available and was used without paying any money and the programmers who worked hard for building the software, were only paid for the time they spend designing and programming the software. They were not paid for the programs that they created. As time passed computers were reached to the business world and then the programmers started restricting the rights of use of their software in order to support themselves and their families. They started charging fees based on the number of copies of their software used. It is since 1984 when Richard Stallman formed the Free Software Foundation and its GNU Project and put his idea and made free software so popular. The main concern for Richard Stallman was that people should appreciate their freedom and they should get as much freedom as they can. When he felt that all users should have a specific set of rights, so he designed a set of rights and then codified them in a set of rights named GNU, also called as GPL (General Public License). Stallman called his license the copyleft as it gave rights to the users for making the copies of the software. Gradually Stallman developed influential software which were free such as GNU C Compiler and GNU Emacs. This GNU Emacs editor was so attractive to some that it was coined as if it's a work of religion. Seeing his dedication & sheer intelligence towards free software, many other developers & coders were inspired to contribute their self developed free software under GPL. Although the others work is not inspired with same democratic enthusiasm, still it can be said that it's derived from Stallman passion, where the open source definition includes many of his ideas.

Whereas the life of open source definition started as a policy document of the Debian GNU/Linux Distribution. An early times Linux system called Debian which is still popular these days, was developed for free software. But Debian's main problem was that they could not define properly what was free and also the free software policy never made clear to the people around the world, even though there were other licenses than copyleft that supposed to be free. Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond (Raymond is also known as Margaret Meade of free software) just met occasionally at the Hacker's Conference and after that they both were in contacts with each other with the idea for Open source. Stallman's idea of freedom was very popular among broad & open minded programmers, for which Raymond was more concerned as conventional & traditional business people were put off by Stallman. Raymond felt that this was flourishing in research but boiling the development of Linux in business world. He also felt that the right document to define Open source would be Debian Free Software Guidelines, but in order to achieve that he needed to remove Debian specific references and also prepare a more general name. Then Stallman edited the guidelines in order to form the Open Source Definition.

A corporation for Debian was formed which was called Software in the interest of public and in order to couple its use with the definition, he made an offer to register a trademark for Open Source. To which Raymond agreed and he registered a certification mark. It is a special form of trademark which is meant to be applied to other person's products on period basis. Later on as time passed around after a month or so after he registered the mark, it was clear to him that the Software in public interest might not be best option for Open source mark. So he transferred the ownership rights of mark to Raymond. Since then Raymond and Stallman have formed the Open Source Initiative which is an organisation that exclusively manages the Open Source campaign and its certification mark. In political intelligent industry, it was pointed towards the current use of the term Open Source. Many people preferred the established name of Free Software, whereas others felt the term Open was already used many times & lots of places. Stallman concerned that the excessive user of term Open could never be wrong as it has dual meaning. In English language it means either liberty or price. In commercial world of computers & its software where license is also major thing to be considered, price is often used meaning of Open Source. Later Stallman took his step back from the idea of Open Software due to lack of emphasis on freedom, even though the term Open Source became more popular. Also his role in the origin of free software was ignored along with his Free Software Foundation, as he complained of being “written out of history”. (Parens,1999)

Open Source V/s free software's -

Software which can be distributed, freely modified, redistributed is referred as Free Software. Its free software, that doesn't mean that it's of zero cost. The usage of term Free Software started with Unix & became common & popular there and now recently introduced to the general computer community. Free Software is also referred to as Liberated Software (software libre) or freed software or FRS (Freely Redistributable Software). In Feb 1998 there was an attempt to avoid the confusion over the world “free” in the English language that “open source “ is not same as Free software but it is marketing name for Free Software. The term Open Source refers to the fact that the source code is open for all to use, modify, reuse & distribute. Debian Free Software Guidelines or the Free Software Definition is from where u get more detailed meaning of Free Software and Open Source Definition is where officially Open Source is defined. Originally Open Source and Free Software refer to same, but now different but still largely similar set of software, with stressing on different logic.

Both Open source and free software can be used for studying, copying and redistributing without any restriction. Free Software cannot be modified but open source can be modified. All available open source software is freeware but free software is not always open source. Open source software can include source code, but free software will not include source codes. Usage of Open source can have restrictions and allowed to reproduce or modify depending on licensing conditions, but free software can be freely distributed but cannot not reproduce or modified. There is vast difference between open source software and free software. The main difference between this two is the way they look at the world and also in their values. Open source is a development methodology where as free software is a social movement.

This are some of the well know Free Software

Operating Systems

General Utilities


Windowing Systems

Desktop Environments

Web Browsers

Productivity Applications

Office Suites

Server type software

Linux (or GNU/Linux)












The X









(Netscape 6)















Some of the Major organisations for Free Software/Open Source are as follows:

Free Software Foundation

Linux International

Free Software Foundation India

The GNOME Foundation

The KDE League

Software in the Public Interest and its Debian GNU/Linux and Debian GNU/Hurd projects

The Open Source Initiative

The XFree86 Project

Software Liberty Association of Taiwan

The Free Standards Group, parent of the Linux Standard Base

The Apache Software Foundation

Free Software Foundation Europe

Some of the major Free Software websites are as follows: this is major community and news site with forum this is major software release announcement site is the advocate site for free software developers

Rationale / Significance

The free software movement was started in 1983 for all the computer users worldwide. GNU-the free operating system was launched in 1984 specially to avoid the non free operating systems that deny freedom of their users and float an example for free software and open source. The main purpose and utility of GNU is that its free software. Despite of having no technical advantage of GNU over Unix, it still has social & ethical advantages. Socially it allows users to cooperate with each other. Ethically it respects users' freedom. But always the best known good practice is applied in daily work. For e.g. the best practice of using memory variables is through dynamically allocation data structures in order to avoid junk fixed size limits which consume more memory space. But on other side Unix support to small memory size in 16 bit machines was not accepted as by the time it would finish the GNU system development, 32 bit machines would be in use. In programs where handling large & complex programming logic files was not required, programmers were made first to read entire file into core, and then scan its contents without taking in to consideration about I/O. This change in machines enabled many GNU programs to surpass in reliability and speed. (Stallman, 1999)

A license was designed specifically to protect the freedom of all users of program in 80's and also the most essential components of such a system and as well as GNU General Public Licence was developed. There was also a situation where not all the users and developers of the free software agreed with the goals of free software movement. In 1988, a part of free software community splintered off and began campaigning in the name of open source. To avoid misunderstanding open source was termed as free software but it soon became associated with philosophical views quite different from those of the free software movement.

During the course of making Open source popular, some of its proponents considered it a marketing campaign for free software which would appeal to business executives by citing practical benefits, while avoiding ideas of right and wrong that they might not like to hear. Other proponents flatly rejected the free software movement's ethical and social values. When campaigning for open source they did not cite or advocate those values. The term open source quickly became associated with the practice of citing only practical values, such as making powerful, reliable software. Most of the supporters of open source have agreed to come to it since then, and that practice is only making it more popular. Due to problems in accepting free software, its developers switched to open source as it was more acceptable to their business needs.

Literature Review

Concept of Open Architecture

Open software system and open API together makes open architecture but by this we cannot know what is different software that is cond in such systems. To know more about this we should first identified what software elements are cond in such type of system that affects whether they are open or closed like

Software source code component: This code can be standalone programs, libraries, frame works, or middleware, inter-application script code or intra-application script code any one of this.

Executable components: In this source code may not be open for access, review, modification, and possible redistribution as this programs are in binary form.” Executable binaries are a complication of source code and they can be viewed as derived works”. (Alspaugh Scacchi ,2009)

Application program interfaces/APIs - The minimum requirement to form an open system is the availability of externally visible and accessible API.

Software connectors - High level Architecture, CORBA, MS .NET, and GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) libraries these are some of the examples which intends to provide a standard or reusable way of communication through common interfaces.

Cond system or sub-system architectures - In this system there are different licenses that may be present which can affect the overall system license. Sub- architecture or a cond system may be surrounded by a license firewall, a layer of dynamic links, client-server connections, license shims or other nectors that block the propagation of reciprocal obligations to minimize license interaction.

Open Source

“The open source is a bill of rights for the computer user”. (Parens,1999) Open Source requires that the certain rights that a particular software license must allow you in order to be certified must be clearly defined. There are some software's that has lot of restrictions in their licensing but certain programs like Linux operating system and Netscape's web browser have gained good popularity. There is rapid development in the companies that use open source software as much of this advantage is by individual who just need an improvisation to serve their needs, which mainly takes place in collaborating companies.

Concept of Open Source Software

Most of the time open source software is considered to access the source code which is not true. The Open Source Initiatives have clearly defined the criteria, the distribution terms of software have to comply in order to be called open source. The criteria's are as follow:

Free Distribution:

The terminology “free software” is most of times misunderstood for being free of cost. Actually it has nothing to do with cost, it's related to freedom. As free word refers to freedom & no cost, there is not confusion between selling copies and free software. In order to raise funds for free software development & cover development costs, the copies of free software are sold on CD-ROMs. The programs which are not compiled in that CD/DVD is not considered as free software, but still developers are looking for alternative to ship that free software but could not do so due to ambiguity of “free” and could not still find any simple alternative. Actually English language has lot of words & meanings but it lacks a simple meaning of terminology “free” which is self explanatory as freedom, but people understand it as cost.

Any person can share software with any one they like without any additional payments. Richard Stallman (1998) articulated “4 freedoms of free software”, where the developer will be having freedom to run program, refer its source code and modify it as per his requirement, distribute and publish to others in free. Whereas Raymond (1999) countered with the opposite view that software with ideology of sales in lieu of money will lead to less development time and least bugs.

Source Code:

The source codes of the open source software may be distributed or reproduced or can be made available at reasonable reproduction or distribution cost.

Derived work:

Users or persons obtaining source code must be allowed to modify and distribute their work.

Integrity of Author's source code:

The distribution of modified source code must be allowed although restrictions to ensure the possibility to distinguish the original source code from the derived work are tolerated, e.g. Persons modifying the source code needs to give names of original author or reference from where they referred for the original code.

No Discrimination against Persons or Groups:

The licence should not make any discrimination against any person or any group of persons or any organization. It should not lead to any kind of discrimination, be it, racial, culture, community, company, society, etc.

No Discrimination against Fields of Endeavour:

The license should not be restricted against particular areas.

Distribution of License:

The rights attached to the programs for distribution must apply to all whom the program is distributed / redistributed without the need for execution of an additional license by those new parties to whom the source is distributed newly.

License Must Not Be Specific to a Product:

The rights given by the new license must not be different for the original distribution licence, even when it takes place in a totally different context. It should be clearly having references about other software's which are being used in your software.

License Must Not Contaminate Other Software:

The license must not demand any condition on the software distributed along with the licensed software.

Open Source in Digital Preservation

The principle of promoting open access to a good's production or design process and the product itself is denoted by open source. This principle is mostly used in reference of computer software which means that the knowledge assembled in software programs and operating systems is available. Some of the well known examples of open source software is Mozilla Foundation and some of its web application are FireFox and Thunderbird. Open source is often mentioned in digital preservation context for open standards play an important role. One can have anything as a open source like file format specifications and document format can be as open source but only thing is that the open standards should be maintained. Together they specify quite a large number of preservation requirements but for a number of reasons they cannot be proclaimed as a one fits all solution for digital preservation. Open source is not necessarily confined to software. Open standards, for example, can also be regarded as open source, in the sense that they are freely available and open to the public. Assets conforming to open standards are more qualified for being preserved over a long period of time in as much as they give access to the file format, making it easier to develop a tool which migrates this format should it become obsolete There are some file format specifications which themselves is a open source like spreadsheet and some of the document formats. One can also get satisfactory result from the proprietary solutions with the advantages of continuing and guaranteed customer support. However the most important thing is that how the industry and user accepts the standards and tools than the actual openness itself. The best standard does not necessarily have to be the most feasible when considering support, availability, and acceptance by industry partners. Open standards for files to be preserved, and also the implementation of the preservation software and its parts under an open source licence brings advantages. Other institutions can use components developed using open software and adapt them to their needs. Furthermore, especially with respect to trust, open source software is much easier to evaluate then proprietary software Open source is not like other commercial software, its applications differ in quality of implementations. Whereas, commercial software comes with warranties but open source applications comes without warranties so one should gather all the essential requirements when you use open source software. Due to source code availability the main advantage of open source software lies in the possibility of customising and tailoring it to an institution's needs. Also shortcomings in the software can be corrected independently by either taking corrective actions oneself or by mandating some other company. With open source software one does not have to wait for some update of the vendor which might never come.
How software licenses are expressed

There is a scheme proposed for expressing software licenses that are more formal and less complex than natural language. It allows identifying conflicts that may arise from various rights and obligations pertaining to two or more softwares licenses. To express a right or obligation let's take tuple <actor, operation, action, object>.” The actor is the licensee for all the licenses we have examined”. The operation is one of the following: “may”, “must”, or “must not”, with “may” expressing a right and “must” and “must” and “must not” expressing obligations. The entities who have been granted a sublicense only hold copy right. Hence only rights that are listed are available. If any right is missing then it means that it is not available. A license can be expressed as a set of multiple rights. Each right is associated with zero or more obligations, which must be fulfilled so as to use that right.


MySQL is open source software. As MySQL is open source the best thing is anyone can download MySQL from internet and can use it without paying anything. MySQL is trademark of MySQL AB. MySQL AB is the company of the MySQL founders and main developers. MySQL was originally established in Sweden by David Axmark, Alan Larsson, and Michael Monty Widenius. All the developers of the MySQL server are employed by the company. MySQL software delivers a very fast, multi-threaded, multi user and robust SQL (Structured Query Language) database server. MySQL software has dual licensing, which means you can use the MySQL software free of charge under the GNU General Public License. Anybody so inclined can study source code and change it to fit their needs. MySQL database is very fast, reliable and easy to use.

MySQL database is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) which means that the MySQL software can be used free of charge under the GPL. If you do not want to be bound by the GPL terms you may purchase a commercial license for the same product from MySQL AB. Since MySQL AB owns the copyright to the MySQL source code, we are able to employ Dual Licensing which means that the same product is available under GPL and under a commercial License. MySQL AB also sells commercial licenses of third-party open source GPL software that adds value to MySQL server. The GPL license is contagious in the sense that when a program is linked to a GPL program the resulting product must also be released under GPL lest you break the license terms and forfeit your right to use the GPL program altogether.

Research Methodology

Data Collection

There are two major approaches to gathering information. Sometimes required information required is already available and we just need to extract those information. However, there are times when the information must be collected. This type of research will take the second approach where the information is not already available and need to be collected.

This research mainly based on the Primary data that is why the methodology of research mainly based on qualitative research method rather than quantitative method. There are some reasons behind it why I am choosing qualitative research methods because this research is mainly on document study rather than survey.

Qualitative Research Techniques

There are number of software licences which are in use and various companies have created their own special license with some special and easy to use features representing their individual business model. The licence is made in such a way that the owner of the source will not take any authority or blame in case any problem arises due to his freely distributed code. There are number of free licenses in the software industry and some of them are GPL, LGPL, MIT /X, BSD. In 1989 Richard Stallman wrote GPL version 1 he knew that there were two ways where the middleman freedom can be taken away 1- by adding restrictive license terms 2-by concealing the source code. GPL 1 was designed to prevent these two terms. In 1991 GPL version 2 was also designed to prevent patent holders to prevent their patents to impose licenses on redistributors in a way that could make the software non free.

Licence Compatibility

There are number of different people/companies/organizations that produce different components in software systems but sometimes it becomes impossible to use all of them in combination as they belong to different modules and are often distributed under different licenses. This will create incompatibility between each of the licenses. At the moment this is the real problem which is becoming worst as many new companies shave started to participate in open source movement and they create their own license instead of using an existing one. The GPL (General Public License) or LGPL (Lesser General Public License) provides the best protection against the misuse and are compatible with most open source software already released as they are most common licenses.

For e.g.

1) With respect to recent examples in Software industry, we have seen lot of examples of rivalry and competition between many major companies like Microsoft & Oracle. When Microsoft releases a new OS, it will do such internal settings that Oracle Database will not work on it so that users will shift to Microsoft Database, as in case of MS Vista Oracle 10g could not be installed on Vista machines. But later on after some months, Oracle was compelled to release Oracle which will get installed on Vista OS. Hence this cold war keeps on going in this industry.

2) Major audio software Winamp, was not working earlier on Linux OS, as the Linux supporting files for audio which was being used by Winamp was violating Licence rules. Hence Linux removed those files. But later on when this issue was dragged to court, then it had to provide those supporting codec files needed for playing audio files through Winamp.

Hence, dependency between numbers of different software plays a major role in this Software industry.

Copyrights & Licensing

In fifteen century the idea of copyright was developed in parallel with the development of printing press. This was exclusively exploiting works that they had commissioned to protect the rights of original. It has been always an uneasy relationship between the creator of the work and publisher. It is obvious that the creator will wish to retain the control over the use of book and the income that is derived from the commercial exploitation of work. Even publisher will want to take control over the book and income that is generated. The importance of Publisher grows more compared to writer/creator as publishing business involves lot of capital investment. But it may be valuable to writer/creator also in case he is a popular & successful writer & has generated lot of income from his works.

Royalty -

it is the most common trade made between the creator of the work and publisher. It is licensing of work in exchange for payments. In case of books, authors are generally entitled to royalties on every copy sold by the publisher. Generally all those published Software do not involve the payment of royalties to the individuals. Software is made by a large team of people and requires substantial expenditure of capital, hence resulting in ‘work for hire'. It just involves paying licensing cost of software purchased or being used depending upon contract.

The main purpose to develop open source licensing is to prevent any one to exclusively exploit work. We can define software as fundamental and dynamic. Software being as a functional in the sense that program that contains code should work properly and software defined as dynamic means that it can perform those functions in an entirely different context so each programs that is created presents two types of different values first as s formal purpose as a database and second one as potential source of code for use in performing other functions.

Rights and Obligations

There is some common basis for software licenses as copyright which gives the original author of a work certain exclusive rights like sub-license, publish, distribute, copy, merge, right to use and sell copies. Such type of rights can be licensed to individual or in groups, either exclusively or non-exclusively or it may be licensed to others. Rights enter public domain after some period of years until then copyright may only be obtained through licensing.

Licenses may impose compulsion which is required to be satisfied in order for the licensee to realize the assigned rights. Common obligations can be like an obligation to publish or post the source code modified by you (MPL) at no cost, or the other mutual obligation to publish all source codes included at time of development or which is linked statically (GPL). The obligation can conflict in a scenario when mutual obligation to publish source code of other component (GPL component) is combined with proprietary or private or personal license where it's prohibited to publish source code. In this case, the whole system rights cannot be available. Not even rights to use can be available, as both obligations cannot be combined & satisfied simultaneously. Here are some of the points that describe the basic relationship between software license rights and obligations like let's say that if the specified obligations are met, then the specified rights are granted. For example to access all the MPL rights for the original and modified code one need to publish modified source code and sub-licensed derived works under MPL. It is very easy to get confused or make mistakes as license details are difficult to comprehend and track. Licenses written by the lawyers are complete and exact but sometimes it is difficult for non lawyers to grasp but on other hand licenses written by developers are often incomplete and legally ambiguous. The challenge increases more & becomes tougher when we come across cond systems that are made of multiple components with diverse licenses, so that the need for legal interpretations can be made unavoidable.

List of Licenses Available

Basically there is not much difference between open source license and free software license. The only difference between this two term is that open source is that open source is approved by open source initiative and free software is approved by free software foundation. There are number of licenses available.

Here are some of the license that are used widely

MIT license
Mozilla Public license (MPL) 1.1
GNU General Public License
Apache Software license 2.0
Common Public License 1.0
Eclipse Public License
New and Simplified BSD Licenses
Common Development and Distribution License
Adaptive Purpose License
Q Public License (QPL)

GNU Public License-One of the most well-known licensing models for open source is the GNU General Public license (GPL). The GPL grants right of redistribution, be it commercially or free of charge, as long as the new software is licensed by the GPL as well. Source code under the GPL is allowed to be modified but the derived work must again be published under the GPL. Because of this very strong copyleft the GPL is often considered too restrictive. A company that uses software or libraries published under the GPL also has to publish their software, i.e the software is created with the help of the GPL'ed source code.

GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) - Due to its ‘viral effect the GPL makes the use of free software in commercial software quite unattractive and thus contrains the applicability of open source products. In contrast of the GPL, companies using source code that is published under the LGPL in their commercial product don't have the obligation to publish the whole product under the LGPL again. Thus the LGPL is especially suitable for software libraries such as the GNU C libraries

Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) - A software product under the BSD licence allows commercial use as well as being included into other commercial products. The derived work of a BSD product does not have to be free itself. It can be redistributed under a commercial software license.

Mozilla Public License (MPL)- The source code of the well known internet browser Mozilla is released under the MPL. It grants the right to incorporate an MPL protected product into another software product which then can apply any licence. Modifications however have to be licensed under the MPL again.

There are also some of the special purposes licenses like

Educational Community Centre
NASA Open Source Agreement
Educational Community License

The major concern over GNU is not to be popular just like other software but instead to give freedom to the users. To achieve this or overcome this concern, there should be some distribution terms that would prevent GNU software to be called as proprietary software. One of this method or terminology is termed as copyleft.

Copy Left

A general method which makes a program free is what known as Copy Left. All modify it and extended versions of programs are also required to be free. Public domain is the easiest way to make program free software. People can share their programs and they can also make any improvements if required. On the other hand uncooperative people can convert program into proprietary software. Uncooperative people can make changes as per their wish and can distribute whole program as proprietary product but people on the other hand who receive the modified form of program do not have right that the original author gave them. The main aim of GNU project is to give all users the freedom to redistribute and change GNU software.

We might have many users who will use the software if middleman removes the freedom to use, but those users won't be able to enjoy the freedom. So instead of putting GNU software in public domain we copy left it. Any user or person or middleman who redistributes the software, whether it's with changes or without changes, he/she must also pass along with the changes in software, the freedom to further copy & change it by other user or person, which is the benefit provided by Copy Left. In this manner Copy Left provides full freedom to any user.

There are lot of free programs such as GNU C++ compiler. They exist only because of Copy Left, which helps programmers to contribute to development & further improvement of such free software. When any modified source or improved version of existing source is distributed, which is illegal to do so, the employer usually decides to release & distribute it as free software rather than dumping it. In order to Copy Left a program, we need to take care of its copyrights & distribution terms. They give the right to use, modify, redistribute the existing program code or modified program or newly generated program out of existing program when existing distribution terms are not modified. Hence the source code as well as the freedom to use or distribute it becomes legally to use.

Basically, Copy Left is a general concept and you cannot use this general concept directly. One can use only a specific implementation of the concept. GNU General Public License is the place where we use the specific distribution terms that we use for most software in GNU Project.

What is Free License

One of the most widely used free software license is GNU General Public License. Basically GNU General Public License is free software which is designed to give you four essential freedoms.

One can run the program for any purpose as per one's wish.
One can study the source code and change it as per they want to do.
Users can make copies and distribute to others.
One can publish or distribute modified versions as per their wish.

If one have all of these four freedoms than the program is considered as free software.

Advantages of Free software

If the GPL seems a bad idea from the standpoint of commercialism, consider the recent surge of successful freeware packages - they are indicative of a system that does indeed work. This success has evolved for two reasons: First, error in the code itself are far more likely to be caught and quickly fixed under the watchful eyes of peers. Second, under the GPL systems, programmers can release their code. This concept of course begs the question of why anyone would release his or her work for free. This answer is simple: Most projects don't start out as full featured, polish pieces of work. They may begin life as a quick hack to solve a specific problem bothering the programmer. As a quick-and-dirty hack, the code has no sales value. But when this code is shared with others who have similar problems and need, and these additions travel back to the original programs. The project thus evolves as the result of a group effort and eventually reaches full refinement. This polished program contains contributations from possibly hundreds if not thousands of programmers who have added little pieces here and there. In fact, the original author's code is likely to be little in evidence. Here's another reason for the success of generally licensed software: Any project manager who has worked on commercial software knows that selling, marketing, supporting, documenting, packaging, and shipping can be more expensive than developing the software. A programmer carrying out a weekend lark to fix a problem with a tiny, kluged programs lacks the interest, time, and backing money to turn that hack into a profitable product.

Research Hypothesis

OSS (Open Source Software) has been dominant in IT infrastructure for years. GNU/Linux and various flavours of BSD UNIX have dominated the Internet. PERL and PHP have been the predominant development languages of the WWW, and Apache actually has expanded its early 80% market share among web servers. All of those products are OSS. 2006 might reasonably be called the Year of Open Source, as OSS adoption grew widely beyond its traditional use in technology infrastructure to replace proprietary database, content management, and CRM products as well.

Open Source Software (OSS) is software distributed to the public with its source code, allowing anyone to use the software, redistribute it, and change its functionality as desired. Frequently, OSS is called 'free' software, but most OSS retains copyright and exists to serve commercial purposes such as custom enhancements, training, and support. So all OSS is 'free to use', but only some OSS is 'free as in beer'. OSS contrasts with proprietary software, which is distributed as run able binary code only. Proprietary software is 'closed' in a broader sense than lack of source code; feature changes, enhancements, and bug fixes all occur under the control of the source code holder rather than of users. Customers also are locked into relying upon the proprietary software vendor to support its products adequately.

Hypothesis of OSS

Hypothesis 1 -

Open Source Software will have a core team of developers who will contribute to the development of core product with new features & enhancements.

Hypothesis 2 -

For small software's the core developers will take ownership of source code.

Hypothesis 3 -

Apart from core team, there would be a team larger then core which works on fixing bugs and another team larger then bug fixing team which will be responsible for finding bugs.

Hypothesis 4 -

Software which has an excellent core team may also fail due to lack of testers & bug fixing resources.

Hypothesis 5 -

Commercial software is prone to have more bugs compared to open source software.

Hypothesis 6 -

In open source software which is successful, even developer will also be a user.

Hypothesis 7 -

OSS software have faster rate of response to any usage problem report or bug reporting.

Hypothesis 8 -

Patches in OSS can be delivered to all users as soon as it's released, but in commercial software it's bundled in a package & shipped at a predetermined schedule.


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