"Open Source", "Free Software" and other beasts

Shlomi Fish


This document is copyrighted by Shlomi Fish under the Creative Commons Attribution License version 2.5 (or at your option a greater version).


The purpose of this document is to introduce the Open Source Software and Free Software world to people who are not familiar with it. It covers the semantics of the terms, the history of this world, philosophical differences, various criteria of open source software, and other issues.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Software Licences and "Proprietary" Software
3. Meaning of the terms
4. History
Early Days, AT&T UNIX, BSD
Richard Stallman, the GNU Project, and the "Free Software" term
The Linux Kernel, GNU/Linux and the Debian Free Software Guidelines
The "Cathedral and the Bazaar" and the coining of the term "Open-Source"
Linux Becomes More Popular
Open Source and Open Content Become Mainstream
5. Difference between "Open Source" and "Free Software".
In for Free Beer
6. Other Criteria of Open Source Software
GPL Compatibility
Open Source vs. Sourceware
7. Myths about Open Source and Other Issues
Sharing software huh? Isn't it a bit like Communism?
The "Programmers Will be out of Work" because of Free Software Myth
Other Myths about Linux and Open Source Software
8. Where I Stand
9. Links and References
Resources for Further Reading
The GNU Project Philosophy
Eric S. Raymond's Writings
Joel on Software
David A. Wheeler's Site
Related Books
10. Document Information
To Do List