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 .:: Advocacy Index ::.

*List of Recommended Reading

*The Case for Open Source: For Business

*The Case for Open Source: For Customers

*The Case for Open Source: For Hackers

*Case Studies and Press Coverage

*Frequently Asked Questions

*Jobs for Hackers: Yes, You Can Eat Open Source

*Software Secrets: Do They Help or Hurt?

*Why "Free Software" Is Too Ambiguous

*Shared Source Debate -OSCON 2001

The Open Source Case for Hackers

(Note: If you're a non-techie reading this, you may have some negative and wrong ideas about what the term "hacker" means. Do your homework and come back.)

The Technical Case – A No-Brainer

Internet and Unix hackers, as a rule, already understand the technical case for open source quite well. It's a central part of our engineering tradition, part of our working method almost by instinct. It's how we made the Internet work.

This case has been formalized in "The Cathedral and the Bazaar". This paper was behind Netscape's pioneering decision to take its client software open-source.

But, to us, the paper wasn't necessary to make the case. We all know how astonishingly reliable the running gears of the Internet are relative to their nearest commercial equivalents. TCP/IP, DNS, sendmail, Perl, Apache ... replacing these with closed software would barely be even conceivable, let alone feasible.

Developers from other traditions should start with "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", continue with "Homesteading the Noosphere", continue further with "The Magic Cauldron", read the business case, and proceed to the Frequently Asked Questions list.

The Economic Case – Why You Won't Starve

A lot of hackers who already know that open-source is better than closed are reluctant to push the idea because they're afraid they might lose their paying jobs. Fortunately, there are excellent reasons to believe that this fear is groundless. Read them here.

The Marketing Case – New Territory for Techies

The case that needs to be made to most techies isn't about the concept of open source, but the name. Why not call it, as we used to, free software?

One direct reason is that the term "free software" is easily misunderstood in ways that lead to conflict. You can read an extended discussion of this problem.

But the real reason for the re-labeling is a marketing one. We're trying to pitch our concept to the corporate world now. We have a winning product, but our positioning, in the past, has been awful. The term "free software" has been misunderstood by business persons, who mistake the desire to share with anti-commercialism — or worse, theft.

Mainstream corporate CEOs and CTOs will never buy "free software." But if we take the very same tradition, the same people, and the same free-software licenses and change the label to "open source" — that, experience has proven they will buy.

Some hackers still find this hard to believe, but that's because they're techies who think in concrete, substantial terms and don't understand how important image is when you're selling something.

In marketing, appearance is reality. The appearance that we're willing to climb down off the barricades and work with the corporate world counts for as much as the reality of our behavior, our convictions, and our software.

You can read some practical marketing advice written for hackers, and an excellent article on how to write press releases.

Where to Find Open Source Software

Here are some of the most important public Internet archive of open-source software:

This is the largest archive site in the Linux world, and quite possibly the largest single open-source archive on the planet.
The CPAN archive is the central repository for useful free code in Perl.
An archive of Python software and documentation available at this URL, the Python Home Page.
From the SourceForge website: "SourceForge.net is the world's largest Open Source development website, with the largest repository of Open Source code and applications available on the Internet." You can browse the software map by license. Some listings use non OSI Certified Licenses. Those licenses may be pending approval or not.
From the freshmeat website: "freshmeat maintains the Web's largest index of Unix and cross-platform open source software." Again, watch the licensing.
From the Open-Source Directory website: "OSD's primary mission is to provide a resource for users to find Open-Source applications that are stable." Includes "public domain" as a license choice.

Copyright © 2006 by the Open Source Initiative
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