THE PROJECT ON OPEN SOURCE PRODUCTS
With the rapid development of technology in every sector in this age every organization and individual has no option but to embrace technology so as to stay at bay with the rest of the society. However, to achieve this may seem an impossibility to some organizations and individuals especially in the developing countries.
Open source products are changing the way transactions are carried out both in public sectors, private sectors and in personal businesses due to its easy accessibility by all. Open source promotes effectiveness and efficiency not only in transacting businesses but even in the broad cycle of communication.
This paper describes open source products critically assessing the importance of different factors in the open source and open standards environments.
It gives examples of some of the most common open source products, evaluates the current market for open source products, their benefits and pitfalls.
This paper touches on the emergence of open standards and their future impact as far as communication industry. It also talks about the ownership of these standards, their integration with the existing legacy systems, the future of open source products and finally draws conclusions based on the research done on the project.
People around the world have developed great interest in open source software. Before the open source software era prospective purchasers of IT products could not afford to buy software especially in the developing countries at the prices of the major suppliers, priority is directed to the development of Information Technology infrastructure and in the creation of electronic services.
The market for IT software in some countries like Sweden is dominated by a minority of players and there are inadequacies in market competition, so this results to high costs for consumers. Suppliers of these IT products have created many supplier-specific functions in the software making it impossible for the customer to change to an alternative product. High supplier dependency cannot be broken by competing products since they have similar conditions.
The only best way to counter this problem is by promoting products which are built on open standards and formats along with open source software thereby providing a greater freedom of choice.
Open source products will enable availability of open formats, open standards, open source code, portability and the ability to be able to use products on different platforms.
Outline of the project
This project consists of the main body giving a detailed view of open source software products, a definition of open source, examples of open source products, an evaluation of the current market for open source products, the benefits and pitfalls of open source in different organizations, the emergence of open standards, ownership of those standards, the future of open source software products and a conclusion on the research.
What is an open source product?
An open source product is a products for which the source code and certain other rights reserved for copyright holders are provided under a license that meets the open source definition or is in the public domain so that its access is very easy.
This way, the users can use, change, and improve the software and redistribute it in modified or unmodified form.
This product is often developed in a public and collaborative manner.
Open source software is the most is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user-generated content. this term originated from a marketing campaign for free software. Standish group as reported that the adoption of open source software models has caused consumers save aupto about $60 billion per year.
The open source initiative uses open source definition to dertermine whether or not a soft ware license can be considered open source.
This definition based on the Debian Free Software Guidelines was written and adopted by Bruce Perens.
Apart from access to the source code open source means a lot more, the distribution terms of open source software must meet or comply with the following criteria;
- Free redistribution
Under free redistribution the licensee shall not restrict any party from selling or giving away the software as a component of an aggregate software distribution containing programs from several different sources. The license shall not require a royalty or other fee for such sale
- The source code
Under the source code regulation, the program must have a source code and must allow distribution both in source code as well as in compiled form. In case where a product is not distributed with source code, there muyst be a well publicized means of getting the source code for a reasonable reproduction cost preferably downloading via the internet without being charged.
The source code must be the most preferred form in which a programmer can easily modify the program.
No deliberate obfuscating is allowed neither are intermediate forms such as the output of a preprocessor or a translator are allowed.
- Derived works
Under the derived acts regulation, the license must allow modifications and derived works and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software.
- The author’s source code integrity
if the license allows the distribution of ”patch files” with the source code for the purpose of modifying the program at build time, the license may restrict source code from being distributed in modified form.
The license must explicitly permit distribution of software built from modified source code. The license may require derived works to carry a different name or version number from the original software.
- No discrimination against persons or groups
The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons.
- No discrimination against fields or endeavor
The license must not restrict anyone from using the program in a specific field of endeavor, i.e. in a business or in a generic research.
- The distribution of license
the rights attached to the program must apply to all whom the program is redistributed without the need for execution of another license by those parties.
- A license must not be specific to a product
Rights attached to the program must not depend on the program’s being part of a particular software distribution. All the parties to whom the program is redistributed should have the same rights as those that are granted in conjunction with the original software distribution, if the program is extracted from that distribution and used or distributed within the terms of the program’s license.
- the license must not restrict other software
open source software license must not have restrictions on other software that is distributed along with the licensed software, i.e. the license must not indicate that all other programs distributed on the same medium must be open source software.
- the license must be technology-neutral
Under this, no provision of the license may be predicted on any individual technology or style of interface.
An introduction of some open source product
There are several open source products already in the market for use; the following is an introduction of some of them;
- Eclipse software
This is a Multilanguage software development setup with an IDE and a plug in to extent it.
This Multilanguage software is written in JAVA and can be used to develop applications in JAVA by means of plug-ins.
Its initial code base originated from VisualAge meant for JAVA developers. Users can extend its abilities by installing plugins written for the eclipse software framework.
Eclipse began as an IBM Canada project by Object Technology International (OTI)
Eclipse was developed as a JAVA based replacement for the small talk based VisualAge family of IDE products
Later in November 2001 a consortium was created to further the development of eclipse as an open source product.
This is a unix like computer operating systems used in servers but can also be installed in various computer hardware ranging from embedded devices to mobile phones, watches, mainframes and even supercomputers.
Because of its open nature, linux vendors and communities combine and distribute the kernel.
Today, linux distributions are used in numerous domains and have secured a place in server installations with the popular LAMP application stack
- The Apache HTTP Server
This is web server software that played a major role in the initial stages of the growth of the World Wide Web.
In 2009, apache was the first web server software to surpass the 100 million website milestone. It was the first viable alternative to the Netscape Communications Corporation web server.
Since 1996, apache has been the most popular HTTP Server in use.
Apache surports a varietry of features many implemented as compiled module whch extend the core functionality
- The Apache Tomcat
This is also called Jakarta tomcat or simply tomcat. This is an open source software edeveloped to by the apache software foundation (ASF) to implement the JAVA servlet and the JavaServer Pages.
Tomcat software has tools for configuration and management and can also be configured by editing the XML configuration files
Tomcat was started as a servlet reference system by a software architecture at Sun Microsystems called james dancan Davidson. He hoped that the software would be an open source program
Moodle stands for Modular Object – Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.
Moodle is an e-learning software platform also called Course Management System.
Moodle helps educators create online courses, but people can develop a different functionality by using this software that is an open system software
Moodle provides a variety of questions ie calculated, description, essay, marching, embedded answers, multiple choice, short answers, numerical, short answer marching, random, true/false.
Modle contains features for use with other specific systems like importing quizzes or entire courses from Blackboard or from the WebCT.
”Moodle” is a protected trademark and only its partners have the right to use the trademark to market their services like moodle hosting.
- Mozilla thunderbird
This iis an open source cross-platform email and news client development by the Mozilla foundation, a project aimed at creating a web browser.
Thundrerbird can manage multiple email newsgroup and RSS accounts and it usupports multiple identity within accounts.
Thunderbird runs a wide variety of platforms including windows, linux, mac OS X, OS/2, OpenSolaris, eComStation
The source code is freely available and can be compiled and run on other architectures and operating systems.
It provides enterprise and government grade sedcurity features such as SSL/TLS, also connections to IMAP and SMTP server
Thunderbird is used by the French military to contribute to its securityfeatures that march the requirements of the closed messaging system for NATO.
This is an open source software application suit available for different computer systems, written using its own GUI toolkit.
The name is a trademark held by a company in Netherlands and is in use by orange UK.
ISSUES SURROUNDING THE ADOPTION OF OPEN SOURCE PRODUCTS BY DIFFERENT TYPES OF ORGANIZATIONS
The adoption of open source by national governments via policy mechanisms and regulatory approaches has been examined by scholars.
One major issue when considering the adoption of open source products at the national level is the government’s interest in pursuing this option versus interests of other stake holders who are most likely to benefit from such a decision
i) The public sector adoption
Whereas some governments have begun to procure open source software, others have allocated public funds on large scale open source development projects.
”A natiom that ”considers” OSS signifies its desire to establish a level playing field within the public sector’s IT procurement policies” Lee (2006). But this policy is not actually for OSS because it does not indicate a government preference for OSS.
When policy makers choose to endorse OSS over proprietory branded software the decision is most likely to recive firm criticism as procurement discrimination from by proprietary software developers.
According to the official discourse and government policy for non proprietary software the introduction of non proprietary software into government will bring more politics rather than democratization, Berry and Moss (2006) discuss circumstances in which non proprietory software would contribute in the democratizing of the government.
Simon (2005) and Seiferth (2009) also discuss political issues such as standards setting and open licensing thet impact the public policy of open source.
ii) Issues related to the private sector adoption and use
The private sector influences the opportunities aand barriers to the adoption of open source a great deal. Samuelson (2006), in her writing; IBM’s embrace of open source draws attention to several developments including;
- An anti-microsoft strategy among firms
- Changed business models in the software industry
- An open innovation strategy for promoting faster and more efficient technical advances bonaccorsi and rossi (2006)
iii) The role of developers in the adoption and use of the OSS decisions
The developers of OSS also influence the adoption and use of open source products in both the private and public sectors.
The OSS developers have been described by authors as promoting fun, flow, learning, community, they hqave also been described as influencing financial rewards, improving future job prospects, and signaling quality.
The following factors are important mitigating and moderating factors in the converstion surrounding developer motivation; financial incentives, the task nature, group size,and group structure,. The motivations of open source developers shape the adoption of these systems by firms and government agencies socially.
Economic issues surrounding open source software
OSS producers have little advertising incentives a factor that will contribute to a substancial mass of uninformed customers resulting in market failures that might justify government intervention
The way forward in economic terms for Europe may be well to follow and encourage open source software for for reasons of creating a strong software industry and for a counterbalance to current monopolistic trends, Forge (2006).
This is a standard that is available to the public with various rights associated with it.
Open standards may have various properties on how it was designed.
The terms ‘open’ and ‘standard’ have various meanings associated with their usage, the term open is restricted to royalty free technologies while the term standard may at times be restricted to technologies approved by formalized committees that are open to participation by any parties and that operate in a consensus basis. Some internationally recognized standards bodies such as ISO, IEC, and IETF permit their standards to bear specifications whose implementation require payment of patent licensing fees.
Many definitions of standard permit patent holders to impose a reasonable, non – discriminatory fee and other licensing terms on implementers and other users unlike in the open source where there is absolutely no fee charged to the implementers or other users.
The term open source is sometimes used together with the term open source since a standard is not fully open if it does not have a complete free source reference open table.
Open standards that specify formats are sometimes called open formats.
Different countries and organizations have given various definitions of the term open standards but all the definitions are more or less the same, in most cases, it is only the clauses that have been changed but they all refer to the same meaning.
The following are a few of the characteristics of open standard product;
- Availability; open standards are available to eryone to freely read and implement
- Maximum end user choice; open standards create a fair competitive market for implementation to everyone
- No royalty; open standards are free for all to implement, however a fee may be required from standards organizations for certification compliance.
- No discrimination; the standards and the organizations that administer them are not to show favouritism to one implementor over another, except in technical reasons
- Extension or subset; the implementation of open standards may be extended or offered in subset form
- Predatory practices
- Under predatory practices, open standards may impose license terms that guard against subversion of the standard by embrace-and-extend tactics, otherwise, an open standard may not prohibit extensions
Ownership of the emerging standards
Due to secure authentication, the total cost of ownership is low and there’s maximum flexibility and choice. Interoperability enables flexibility in solution development and deployment with less risk.
The benefits of open source environment
Open source technology is of most importance in the present day and age to the public. Its high quality gives efficient services to the public. It is fairly secure so it is not easy for the product to be corrupted. Since open source can be freely manipulated it can be customized by the developers.
Open source is available for free or for a very minimal fee, no purchase of additional licenses is required hence reducing the costs. Open source has very low acquisition and implementation and support costs compared to proprietary products that can be really costly.
Open source software is readily available and can be downloaded for free so this makes it very easy to be evaluated by users
Open source software gives an allowance for wide range of support. Open source allows vendors to choose from a variety of support contracts depending on the quality of services and the costs.
Free access to the source code makes self support possible when there’s need. With open source software, the amount of vendor lock-in is very low, high initial costs associated with proprietary software makes it difficult to reevaluate the the choice of software in case of failure. Open source software gives room for any person to modify it and continue using it in case the first vendor abandons the system run by the open source software.
Pitfalls of open source products
Even though open source comes with several benefits, it also has its pitfalls but they are very few compared to the benefits.
These pitfalls include;
- Most of these open source products are unreliable
Most of the open source osoftware devoperes and promoters are strong believers of obscure and idealistic society where intellectual property rights never exist and software companies never sell software for business. This makes mst of the applications unreliable for business operations.
- Open source software has no support; once one decides to adopt open source products, one is on his own, one has to figure out on how to install and use applications without sabotaging his data and hardware.
- Open source software has high installation costs, very few open source products adjust well with windows so by adopting open source software, one has to be ready to incur costs of installing other operating systems that open source is compatible with.
- Open source software has no guarantee of updates. This is mainly because since no one pays for the software nobody is there to give updates of the development or on the introduction of advanced products in the market.
The importance of open standards environment
Open standards are of great benefit to the public at large, it allows any person to write the code and use it whenever there’s need. The open standards code can be used together with other existing codes. Open standards are highly interoperable, with this type of software an organization can easily mix and match different components within a system.
Open standards offer a full choice to the user and hence lowering the total cost of ownership efficiently and effectively.
Open standards offer room for innovation and they encourage competition hence continuous growth in the industry.
Open standards are a source for employment since it provides a venue for small entrepreneurs.
The future of open source products (http://www.itwire.com/content/view/17336/1141/) (http://acquia.com/files/osbc2008cbvpsurvey.pdf) (http://acquia.com/northbridgesurvey)
Open source is the most rapidly developing and growing technology in the IT field.
Several surveys have been conducted to establish the future of open source products.
Among the most effective surveys are the annual surveys carried out by the North Bridge Venture Partners. Michael Skok of North Bridge Venture Partners said that the highly visible commercial success of open source has helped firmly place it on the map as one of the most influential market segments within the software industry.
From the 5th annual survey conducted by the North Bridge Venture Partners in San Francisco USA in 2008, the following can be deduced from the graphical presentations of their findings;
In five years time about 50% of purchased software will be open software. It is most likely that there will be another open source company with the stature of Red Hat by 2010. By 2012 platform vendors such as Oracle, Sun, IBM, SAP, etc will command the majority of commercial open source software revenue (non-consulting) followed by conglomerates like Google, Yahoo and MS.
In future SaaS will have the greatest impact on the delivery of software and business models for open source applications and middleware vendors.
In the next 3 years open source is most likely to disrupt the following sectors; web publishing, social software and business intelligence.
Majority of the people over 80% agreed that the economy’s turbulence is extremely good with open source. The survey team found out that; lower acquisition costs easy access to libraries of communication code and freedom from vendor lock-in are the top three factors that make open source software attractive.
Open source is both a business model, marketing model, and a development model.
But still open source technology has not grown to a point where it can greatly influence the startup software vendor negatively from entering the market with a non open source product or service.
Research shows that in future at least all sectors of the technology industry will be at least vulnerable to disruption by open source with security tools affected the least.
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