Why is freeware important

What is open source?

Open source is a term that originally goes back to open source software (OSS). This is code that is available to the public, which means that anyone can view it, modify it and distribute it as they wish.

Open source software is developed in a decentralized and collaborative manner and relies on peer review and community production. This software is often cheaper, more flexible and more durable than proprietary products because it is not developed by a single programmer or company, but rather in communities.

Open source has meanwhile developed into a movement, a way of working that goes far beyond pure software production. It uses the values ​​and the decentralized production model of open source software to find new ways to solve problems in communities and industries.

The history of open source corresponds to the history of the internet

In the 1950s and 1960s, the researchers who developed the first Internet technologies and telecommunications network protocols used an open and collaborative environment. The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which later became the basis of the modern Internet, favored the principle of peer review and open feedback processes. User groups exchanged their source code with each other and further developed the source code of the others. Forums facilitated mutual exchange and the development of standards for open communication and collaboration. When the Internet was born in the early 1990s, values ​​such as collaboration, peer review and openness were already an integral part of its foundation.

How does an open source development model work?

An open source development model is the process by which an open source community project develops open source software. This software is then published under an open source license so that source code can be viewed or changed by any user.

Many open source projects are hosted on GitHub, where you can access repositories or get involved in community projects. Linux®, Ansible and Kubernetes are examples of popular open source projects.

At Red Hat, we use an open source development model to develop our open source products and solutions for businesses. Red Hat developers are actively involved in hundreds of open source projects across the IT stack.

We start with open source software developed by the community that either partially or fully meets the needs of our customers. Red Hat is using these open source projects to improve security, fix vulnerabilities, and add new business functions.

So that the community as a whole can also benefit, we will then make these improvements available to them.

Customers using our software provide feedback and bug reports, and request new features based on their current needs. This input becomes the guideline on which development at Red Hat is based.

Linux and open source

Linux is a free, open source operating system (OS) released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). It has grown into the largest open source software project in the world over time.

The Linux operating system was developed as an alternative and free open source version of the MINIX operating system, which was based on the principles and design of Unix.

Linux was released under an open source license that prevents restrictions on software usage. This means that everyone is free to execute, modify and redistribute the source code or even distribute copies of modified code - as long as this is done under the same license.

What is the difference between free, closed and open source software?

For quite a long time, open source software has also been referred to as "free software". The free software movement was formally launched in 1983 by Richard Stallman with the GNU project. The whole thing was basically based on the absolute freedom of the user to be able to view, change and distribute the source code, to make it available and to be able to use it in any way that was useful to him.

Free software is the opposite concept to proprietary or "closed source" software. This type of software is secured by all means. Only the owners are allowed to legally access their source code. Closed source code cannot be legally modified or copied and the user only pays for the use of the software as intended. The code cannot be changed for new purposes or shared with communities.

But the term "free software" has caused a lot of confusion. This does not mean software that is free and belongs to everyone, but software that everyone can use at will. “Free as in freedom, not as in free beer,” was the community's explanation. Christine Peterson, who coined the term "open source", tried to make things clear by replacing "free software" with "open source". The problem with the first term was not its political connotation, but that the apparent focus on price caused misunderstandings, especially among newcomers. So the search was on for a term that emphasized the important concept of the source code and at the same time did not cause confusion for those who were new to this. "

So Peterson proposed to a working group that was partly entrusted with making open source software practices marketable to replace “free software” with “open source”. This group wanted the whole world to know that software is better when it can be shared and changed, when it is open and collaborative. That you can find new and better purposes for it, that it is more flexible, cheaper and offers more longevity - and all of this without being tied to a provider.

Eric Raymond was one of the first members of this working group and in 1997 published some of these arguments in his very influential essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". In 1998, in response to precisely this work, Netscape Communications Corporation made the source code of its Mozilla project available as free software or open source. In this form, the code later became the basis for Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird.

Netscape's support for open source software has forced the community to think about how to better bring the practical and business aspects of the free software movement to the fore. And so the separation of open source and free software was a done deal: “Open source” should serve as a generic term for the methodological, production-related and business aspects of free software. "Free software" should be used as a key term for discussions that focused on the philosophical aspects of the problems as they were anchored in the concept of user freedom.

At the beginning of 1998 the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded, with which the term Open Source was formally established and a common industry-wide definition was found. Even if the open source movement was still viewed with suspicion, especially by the corporate side from the 1990s to the beginning of the new millennium, in the end it has evolved from a side note of software production to the industry standard.

What are the values ​​of open source?

There are many reasons why open source is often preferred over proprietary software, but the most common are:

  • Peer review: Since the source code is freely accessible and the open source community is extremely active, open source code is actively checked and improved by peer programmers. Think of it as a living code, as opposed to code that is closed and "stagnates".
  • Transparency: Would you like to know exactly which data types are being moved where or which code changes are being made? With open source you can check and monitor everything yourself, without having to rely on the promises of the providers.
  • Reliability: Proprietary code originates from a single programmer or company on whom updating, patching, and proper functioning of the code depends. Open source code “outlives” its original authors because it is continuously updated by active open source communities. Open standards and peer reviews ensure that open source code is tested properly and often.
  • Flexibility: Because open source code can be modified a lot, it can fix problems that are specific to your company or community. You can take advantage of it in any way you want, and count on community support and peer reviews to deliver new solutions.
  • Lower cost: With the use of open source, the code does not cost you a cent. When you use a company like Red Hat, you only pay for support, security hardening, and help with managing interoperability.
  • No provider connection: Freedom for the user means that you can take the code with you wherever you go and use it for any purpose at any time.
  • Open collaboration: Active open source communities provide you with help, resources and perspectives that go far beyond individual interest groups or companies.

The open source movement beyond software

Open source is about a lot more than just code. Red Hat presents the current activities of the communities around open source technology with its open source stories. This is a multimedia series with which we recognize how communities, meritocracy and the free exchange of ideas can open up potential in various disciplines. Here are some interesting highlights:

Why Red Hat for Open Source?

Red Hat is the world's largest open source company. We develop and support open source products from special open source projects. We make our contribution to projects and communities with which we work. We protect open source licenses. With Open Source, we pave the way for our customers to achieve business success. We look at the community's code, add features, make it business-ready, scalable and secure. And so that the community as a whole can also benefit, we are making these improvements available again.