Our perspective on Open Source software (also known as "free software", "freeware", or perhaps "freely redistributable software") is very much in line with that of the GNU Project's General Public License (GPL):
"When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things."
The GPL works actively to keep free software free, preventing anyone (except in the instance of a package's sole author) from "taking a package proprietary". This has strong benefits for the community, but not all authors agree with the need for it. In addition, some authors feel that the cost (in flexibility) is too high. So, other licenses have been developed.
In addition, many people have found the term "free software" to be confusing and possibly misleading. Consequently, despite Richard Stallman's thoughtful and persuasive essay (Why "Free Software" is better than "Open Source"), we follow the Open Source Definition, as presented by OpenSource.Org.
The Open Source Community
As Eric Raymond points out in his essays (The Cathedral and the Bazaar and Homesteading the Noosphere), the Open Source community is not a monolithic entity. Rather, there is a wide range of attitudes about licensing, languages and tools, user interfaces, and more.
This diversity is a Good Thing. Specifically, it is both a competitive advantage (in ecological terms) and an enhancement to individual freedom. If everyone has the source code and the right to distribute it in modified forms, monopolistic coercion is not likely to gain a toehold.
Promotion of particular packages and languages is also a Good Thing. It is, in fact, part of the way our diversity is maintained. Occasionally, however, some members of the community get a bit too wrapped up in promoting their own languages, operating systems, or other activities.
This attitude ignores the fact that Open Source is the "glue" that allows all our efforts to succeed. Carried to the point of disparagement and dissension, it can ultimately be poisonous to us all.
Open ReSource hopes to combat this tendency, in our small way, by presenting the widest possible range of Open Source efforts. In these pages, you will find dozens of programming languages and thousands of software packages. Enjoy, share, and happy hacking to all...
Open Source software, although frequently of very high quality, is not supported in the same manner as proprietary offerings. For more information, see our Support / Y2K / ... notes.
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