Thursday, October 7, 2010

open-source software

For week 5.

Guohua Pan, an instructional design specialist from Southeast Missouri State University, talks about the definitions and connotations of open source and the bazaar model of software development in his paper the Emergence of Open-Source Software in North America.

Notes from the article

Definition: Open source refers to a product, usually an original computer software program that is "of or relating to source code that is available to the public" wither partially or in whole.

Criteria of open source: (Johnson, 2005)
  1. Free redistribution; 
  2. Source code-distributed with the original work as well as all derived works;
  3. Derived works-allowing modification;
  4. Integrity of the Author's Source Code; 
  5. No discrimination against persons or groups;
  6. No discrimination against fields of endeavor;
  7. Distribution of License;
  8. License must not be specific to a product;
  9. License must not contaminate other software.

Advantages of open source:
  • It motives innovation;
  • It makes available the talent of the world;
  • It reduces the cost and helps to create a sustainable economy wherein co-developer's participation in code development is free.

Disadvantages of open source: (What makes open source may also break it.)
  • The quality of the product is often at risk-anyone can work on it;
  • The open source product is often left unattended to or forgotten once the original developer decides to no longer fund it and offloads this product as open source for the world community;
  • The hidden cost is unpredictable, to keep the project running as well as to make others aware of it and enlist their support and services.

The Bazaar Model - a well-known open source development model:

Its central thesis is that the development of software is distributed and     transparent. Users of the operating system are potential developers. The source code of the prototype software is open and released as early as possible to attract co-developers; the software is released whenever significant changes are made, for co-developers and users to modify and debug. In bazaar model, several versions are allowed to exist at the same time. Another feature is its dynamic decision making structure.

Open source projects:
Sakai; (which IU is using~ OnCourse is built upon this course management system.)
Moodle; (a very famous one in China, for it's free)

"In North America, open source is more an individual initiative derived from personal needs with minimal government support."

Some thoughts

I'm really in love with the "gift culture", in which people communicate and collaborate with each other, and share their information and talents, instead of competing or hiding from each other; in which we can enjoy the creativity, enthusiasm, informativeness, and even warmth in our world community.
The development of open-source software seems like collaboration of co-developers from all over the world. Everyone has a chance of showing his product, evaluating and making use of other's work. Diversity and transparency promotes the success of open-source software.

Relevant articles: 
Pan, G., & Bonk, C. J. (2007, September). The Emergence of Open-Source Software,
      Part I: North America. International Review of Research in Open and Distance