LinuxQuestions.org
Share your knowledge at the LQ Wiki.
Go Back   LinuxQuestions.org > Forums > Linux Forums > Linux - General
User Name
Password
Linux - General This Linux forum is for general Linux questions and discussion.
If it is Linux Related and doesn't seem to fit in any other forum then this is the place.

Notices

Reply
 
Search this Thread
Old 04-19-2011, 08:04 AM   #1
osanthropologist
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Nov 2010
Posts: 9

Rep: Reputation: 1
The Difference Between Open Source and Proprietary Software (undergrad research)


I am a student conducting research into Open Source software for my undergraduate dissertation. I am looking for the opinions of some linux users as to why they prefer using open source software and what they perceive as the main differences between it and proprietary software. In particular, I am curious as to what meaning, if indeed any, users and contributors ascribe to the open source community and how they view it on a less technical level. Hopefully you'll find the topic as interesting as I do. Thanking you in advance for your participation.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 08:07 AM   #2
szboardstretcher
Senior Member
 
Registered: Aug 2006
Location: Detroit, MI
Distribution: GNU/Linux systemd
Posts: 3,145
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002
Open Source is software, whether free or not, that offers the program and its source code with a license that allows you to change that code and recompile it for yourself.

And obviously there are different levels/versions of that license.

Last edited by szboardstretcher; 04-19-2011 at 08:09 AM.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 08:43 AM   #3
MTK358
LQ 5k Club
 
Registered: Sep 2009
Posts: 6,443
Blog Entries: 3

Rep: Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713
I, to a degree, feel like proprietary software is like a physical product that's intentionally made impossible to open and look inside.

But open-source softwae allows you to look inside, and even encaourages tou to do so if you want to.

Even if I don't understand the code and don't really care about it, it still feels slightly wrong that I shouldn't be allowed to see it.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 10:57 AM   #4
osanthropologist
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Nov 2010
Posts: 9

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1
That's very interesting MTK358, could you describe further what you mean by proprietary software being "like a physical product"? I think I understand you but I'd like to know more.
Also, thank you stretcher for the very succinct technical definition, and that is a good point about the different levels of licensing, I should read about them, any suggestions?
Thanks guys.

Last edited by osanthropologist; 04-19-2011 at 11:01 AM.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 11:01 AM   #5
MTK358
LQ 5k Club
 
Registered: Sep 2009
Posts: 6,443
Blog Entries: 3

Rep: Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713
Quote:
Originally Posted by osanthropologist View Post
That's very interesting MTK358, could you describe further what you mean by proprietary software being "like a physical product"? I think I understand you but I'd like to know more.
I didn't mean to say it's like a physical product.

I said that if software was a physical product, proprietary software would be a device that's designed specifically to be impossible for you to open, for no real reason other than to keep you from repairing it yourself or learning how it works.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 11:28 AM   #6
DavidMcCann
Senior Member
 
Registered: Jul 2006
Location: London
Distribution: CentOS, Salix
Posts: 3,060

Rep: Reputation: 787Reputation: 787Reputation: 787Reputation: 787Reputation: 787Reputation: 787Reputation: 787
Here are a few thoughts.

1. Governments like open source because they can see what they're using and if it's secure. A good example is Microsoft word: how many people realise that the doc format may preserve deleted text, which can be recovered, with potentially unpleasant consequences in some cases?

2. Open-source projects get their bugs removed more easily: as they say, with enough people looking at it, any problem becomes simple.

3. Many Windows users get free-ware that is closed source; if the author looses interest or drops dead, the program dies. Actually, abandonment can occur even with commercial software, as was the case with Adobe's FontStudio.

For licences, see the Gnu Public Licence.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 11:28 AM   #7
osanthropologist
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Nov 2010
Posts: 9

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1
Ok, I see what you mean. You said, that that "feels wrong". How do you mean?
I'm sorry if it seems like I'm asking stupid questions, I really appreciate your helping out.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 11:31 AM   #8
MTK358
LQ 5k Club
 
Registered: Sep 2009
Posts: 6,443
Blog Entries: 3

Rep: Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713
Quote:
Originally Posted by osanthropologist View Post
Ok, I see what you mean. You said, that that "feels wrong". How do you mean?
Becasue it just doesn't seem right that it should be illegal for a person to understand the things they use every day.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 11:50 AM   #9
Hangdog42
LQ Veteran
 
Registered: Feb 2003
Location: Maryland
Distribution: Slackware
Posts: 7,785
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414Reputation: 414
At least in my experience, open source software allows your data to remain your data and won't use crap like changing file formats to force you to upgrade. Or worse, abandon your data completely.

It wasn't all that long ago that I wrote my thesis on Word for DOS (the last decent version of Microsoft Word in my opinion). I've still got the files, but Word no longer reads them.

You also might look into the mess the pharmaceutical industry is in over proprietary software. Since the FDA can request background data for up to 20 years after a drug approval, companies have to store it. Frequently that means that copies of both the hardware used to generate the data and the software used to analyze it (and hardware to run the software) have to be kept for 20 years as well.

As the owner of a small business, I've REALLY appreciated a couple of things about FOSS as well. First is the complete and total lack of issues around licenses. Companies that rely on proprietary software usually have to spend a non-trivial amount of time/money/people to make sure they are in compliance with their licenses. Do some looking into the Business Software Alliance to see the horror stories that can come out of not being in compliance. The second thing I like about FOSS is the ability to very quickly and inexpensively test out new software. That way we pay only for what we know we are going to use and we will know that it will meet our needs.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
Old 04-19-2011, 12:11 PM   #10
onebuck
Moderator
 
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Midwest USA, Central Illinois
Distribution: Slackware®
Posts: 11,201
Blog Entries: 3

Rep: Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426
Hi,

I suggest that the OP looks at: Gnu Philosophy & gpl-violations.org Source Code Release FAQ.

Then look at Introduction to Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and Linux to get some elementary background information;

Quote:
excerpt from 'Definitions and Historical development of Open Source Software';

Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) can be available commercially or as non-commercial software. The “free” in open source software refers to the Free Software Foundation's (www.fsf.org ) definition of 'What is Free Software'. The freedoms at the core of free software are defined as:
  1. The freedom to run the software for any purpose;
  2. The freedom to study how the software works and adapt it to your needs;
  3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help others; and
  4. The freedom to improve the software and release your improvements to the public, so that everyone benefits.
@OP you can find loads of information at the above links.

HTH!
 
Old 04-19-2011, 12:17 PM   #11
osanthropologist
LQ Newbie
 
Registered: Nov 2010
Posts: 9

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 1
So Hangdog, you've found F/OSS to be mainly a commercial asset? Do you think that it fits well into the current format for software distribution that exists? Why do you think proprietary software is so huge none the less?
MTK, why do you think that is, that people aren't being allowed to understand these things? Is it purely commercial, or does it have more to do with people's general ignorance about technology?
David, as I understand it what you're saying is that F/OSS is more transparent and promotes innovation, would you agree with that? If so, can you tell me how you think that is the case?
 
Old 04-19-2011, 12:20 PM   #12
MTK358
LQ 5k Club
 
Registered: Sep 2009
Posts: 6,443
Blog Entries: 3

Rep: Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713Reputation: 713
Quote:
Originally Posted by osanthropologist View Post
MTK, why do you think that is, that people aren't being allowed to understand these things?
Becasue the license on proprietary software says so. That's basically the definition of proprietary software: you aren't allowed to understand it or see the code, because it's inner workings are a trade secret.

On the other hand, open source tends to look at software not as a product that acts like a magical "black box" that does a certain action, but as a mathematical algorithm that anyone should be able to examine and adapt for their own use.

Last edited by MTK358; 04-19-2011 at 12:28 PM.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 12:23 PM   #13
szboardstretcher
Senior Member
 
Registered: Aug 2006
Location: Detroit, MI
Distribution: GNU/Linux systemd
Posts: 3,145
Blog Entries: 1

Rep: Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002Reputation: 1002
Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidMcCann View Post
2. Open-source projects get their bugs removed more easily: as they say, with enough people looking at it, any problem becomes simple.
Unfortunately:

The more people involved in something, the longer it will take to agree on anything

More hands = More mistakes
 
Old 04-19-2011, 01:27 PM   #14
onebuck
Moderator
 
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Midwest USA, Central Illinois
Distribution: Slackware®
Posts: 11,201
Blog Entries: 3

Rep: Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426Reputation: 1426
Hi,

Quote:
Originally Posted by szboardstretcher View Post
Unfortunately:

The more people involved in something, the longer it will take to agree on anything

More hands = More mistakes
FOSS, GPL or Gnu, the maintainer will have the decision as to apply changes. Just like any project you have a maintainer(project leader), lead members along with major contributors. Unlike propriety where the programmer(s) must produce viable code on a daily basis. Error or bug fixes are harder with propriety. Adaptation is even harder for propriety software than open source.

You have to look at the way things do fork in the FOSS/GPL/Gnu because of different viewpoints or ideas. Why do you think there are so many Gnu/Linux in the world now? Better wheel? Look at the variations of software apps between distributions. Sure there are core apps but some organizations do require or need special apps or adaptations.

A big issue for any project is the manner in which errors, adaptation or even simple subs are submitted for content or program utilities. 'git' is one way, wiki is another limited way for communication between members. Any project does require documentation at some point in time. So why not have enhanced project notes available via a board that could be centralized.

Most serious programmers, either closed or open have unique tool boxes that sometimes are not shared unless justified compensation is agreed upon in some way. Snippets may appear but not all crunchers will give up the whole box. FOSS doesn't mean that I have to give personal code source unless I utilize the core along with my code. I can make changes without revealing my portions but I must release the original content. In house my snippets can remain mine.

Then look at 'CC' and another whole set opens.
 
Old 04-19-2011, 02:16 PM   #15
dugan
Senior Member
 
Registered: Nov 2003
Location: Canada
Distribution: distro hopper
Posts: 4,667

Rep: Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440Reputation: 1440
My perspective as an end user is that open source software is more likely to a) be free as in beer, and b) be available on the multiple platforms that I run (I run both Linux and Windows every day).

If we're limiting the discussion to open source software on Linux, then open source software is more likely to work, and work optimally. The reason is the following. Closed source software on Linux either has a short shelf if it's dynamically linked (because library changes are more likely to break it), or suboptimal if it's statically linked (because the linked-in libraries become outdated compared to what's on the system).

Several posts in this thread have touched on how open source projects are managed. For that topic, I recommend this free book:

http://producingoss.com/

BTW, your description of this project makes it seem much less exciting than your last one:

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...ipants-844841/

Last edited by dugan; 04-19-2011 at 02:20 PM.
 
1 members found this post helpful.
  


Reply


Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
LXer: Why Users Dumped Your Open Source App for Proprietary Software LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 09-12-2009 06:01 PM
LXer: Curtin undergrad wins open source contest LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 10-26-2006 07:54 AM
LXer: Research Looks at How Open Source Software Gets Written LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 09-21-2006 01:33 PM
LXer: Time to Cull Proprietary Software from Open Source Branding LXer Syndicated Linux News 0 01-04-2006 12:31 PM
Open Source Software Research. dikadika General 2 06-09-2004 01:06 PM


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 03:27 AM.

Main Menu
My LQ
Write for LQ
LinuxQuestions.org is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
Syndicate
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
identi.ca: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration