Monday, February 05, 2018

Open Source Software Movement Turns 20

In the dead of winter 20 years ago, Netscape -- inspired in part by a treatise on Linux and free software development -- released the source code for its Netscape Communicator web browser. The move was unprecedented. This was a publicly traded company that had just reported some disappointing financials announcing to the world that it would make the core of its product available to thinkers, tinkerers and the insatiably curious. Over the days that followed, a cadre of software developers and advocates agonized over a crucial question: What should this kind of stuff be called? After some prolonged discussions and a few phone calls with Netscape, they had their answer. And thus, 20 years ago, the term "Open Source" was born. The Open Source Initiative formed shortly after that, and one of the working group's founders -- Bruce Perens -- adapted the Free Software Guidelines he wrote for the Debian Linux distro to serve as the official Open Source Definition.


My personal favorites are Debian, Anaconda (Python), LaTeX, Inkscape, Gimp, and QGIS. These are integral to my own work in science/data analysis. I am not as hardcore as some, for example I do have Google Earth installed on my Debian machine.

#1 | Posted by horstngraben at 2018-02-04 12:03 PM

And the world was never again the same...
"Free as in speech, or free as in beer?"

#2 | Posted by GOnoles92 at 2018-02-04 12:42 PM

#1 | Posted by horstngraben

Would love to hook up and discuss data analysis. So many things depend on Open Source and people outside the users have no concept of what it is all too often.

#3 | Posted by GalaxiePete at 2018-02-05 04:01 PM

I'm not a developer or IT expert in any way, so I can't address the analytical tools you guys are talking about.

But I still take advantage of open-source software. At home I use LibreOffice, an open-source substitute for the pricey Microsoft Office suite, and it works very well. There are a few quirks, but they rarely interfere with productivity or cause incompatibility with the real Office programs. I've also used Open Office, which worked well too, but was not as good. I'm also a longtime user of Mozilla's Firefox browser. The new Quantum version represents a significant upgrade to Firefox.

#4 | Posted by cbob at 2018-02-06 10:20 AM

And speaking of browsers... I've started playing around with Duck Duck Go, whose main advantage -- which is a big one for privacy hawks -- is that it doesn't track your online history, unlike the others.

#5 | Posted by cbob at 2018-02-06 10:22 AM

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