In a world where globalization rules, the media bombards us with terms borrowed from other languages, and’ computer science becomes more and more essential, it becomes almost mandatory to learn using a computer and have a minimum knowledge of English, just to avoid being on the wrong end of the stick.
OPEN SOURCE – a reality upside down?
The expression Open Source is now in common use, usually associated with the word Software, and in recent years we can also hear about Open Source Hardware (see Arduino). If the basic concept is well known and rather intuitive, it is not unusual that there are misunderstandings and sometimes real misinformation around this topic. Open Source, translated literally, means that a source code is open (that is, can be modified) or free . In other words, When a program is made so that anyone can read it and fully investigate it, and accordingly modify and customize it, the source of the program is called, indeed, open. But what is a source called when it is not open? Is there a Closed Source, or Locked Source? Well… somehow, yes. In this case we talk about Proprietary Software, or protected by some kind of license, and therefore not accessible and / or modifiable at will. What many do not realize, however, is that the software, in the beginning, was open, or to be more precise, shared. Perhaps because the programmer, who aims to design something functional, and possibly increasingly complex, knows that sharing it can inspire other programmers and in turn be inspired, with benefit of the whole community and the quality of the software itself. The fact that the’ expression Open Source appears to have appeared all’ of a sudden, in a market completely ruled by proprietary software, must be only a matter of history / social habits. Something very similar to’ the invention of’ the electric car, passed off as a great innovation, but actually born long before petrol cars, but soon abandoned (boycotted?) in favor of’ the latter.
If foreign languages may be misleading, here things get complicated a bit. The literal translation, Free Software, has connotations that are very clear, and quite romantic. But the word free English also has a second meaning, which is very common, that is free of charge, and in an area, the one reguarding software, in which the income statements have several zeros, this’ ambiguity was quite annoying and counterproductive. The Free Software Foundation was founded in’ October 1985, by Richard Stallman, as an organization whose main purpose is to regulate the diffusion of the software in a free. And we stress "free as in freedom", not "free of charge"! Those who develop free software must obey a set of rules (see the 4 freedom of Free Software, GPL Licenses) which would preserve the freedom, and make sure that it propagates also in subsequent redistributions, but nothing prevents you from putting a price on the sale of such software.
Differences and Similarities
Daniele Lo Re