Open Source Technology Research Papers

The second important difference between software and other consumer products is that minor modifications are easy. Here again the important analogy with science holds.

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There are several different reasons for this distortion of reality.

Open source development is now fashionable and it makes big news.

I think that the creation of a program is similar to the creation of applied theory.

I would like to classify programming as a special kind, or at least a close relative, of scientific activities.

The recent interest in open source happened because of Linux, not because the "open source" moniker became fashionable.

See, for example, the comments at "Shut Up And Show Them The Code" and especially the remarks by Leandro Dutra.They need to be discussed and understood and the best way to understand them is to use an analogy between open source and scientific communities (actually these communities overlap).In addition, this paper touches on several different problems of OSS that have intrigued me for the last couple of years. Starting with his famous paper "Cathedral and Bazaar" Eric Raymond published a series of articles (see especially his comments on the so-called Halloween documents) he promoted an overoptimistic and simplistic view of open source, as a variant of socialist (or, to be more exact, vulgar Marxist) interpretation of software development.I respect open source and believe that it is optimal in teaching, but I see a lot of problems.I am not concerned that the skepticism and frankness of this paper will discourage many open source developers.First of all I would like to stress that the Internet can significantly reduce the costs of providing some types of software like OS, compilers or utilities.The Internet makes it possible to produce an infinite number of remotely accessible perfect copies of a computer program, multimedia presentations, or interesting e-mail discussions."Cathedral and Bazaar" series of papers (and especially ESR comments on so-called Halloween documents) has some implicit postulates (here we use the term "postulate" to mean an underlying basic assumption like in Euclid geometry) that present "open source" as a magic solution: "If you keep proving stuff that others have done, getting confidence, increasing the complexities of your solutions - for the fun of it - then one day you'll turn around and discover that nobody actually did that one!And that's the way to become a computer scientist."Richard Feynmann.It is generally accepted that the fact that the cost of duplicating a computer program is close to zero creates important differences between computer programs and other consumer products.These differences are to a certain extent ignored or suppressed in the conventional "shrink-wrap" software distribution model.


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