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Open Source Unwrapped

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One of the most important aspects of open source is its power and potential. Whenever the best minds in an industry join forces to create value, the potential is enormous. This has happened with space, cancer research, and the initial Internet itself. There are also political ramifications behind the open source movement. One can draw parallels between the open source movement and the open systems movement of the late 1980s. The open systems movement was intended to loosen IBM's stranglehold on computing. Likewise, the open source movement may well have its roots in loosening Microsoft's grip on power.

Clearly, the open source movement is complex for customers to understand. What does it mean if a community contributes code to an initiative? What is the difference between free software that is in the public domain and software that is owned by one company but licensed in an open source manner? Many IT professionals are under the impression that all open source approaches are the same. Some believe that open source is about free software with no boundaries. No more license fees; just pick up software and use it without constraints. The reality is actually quite different. The value of open source is as much in the process as the results. There are three components to successful open source software: the development community; the availability of service and support; and the commercialization.

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