Non Floss Software Essay

Non Floss Software Essay-31
(Input devices like the mouse, storage devices like the hard disk, display devices, like a LCD screen .) No application program, or for that matter, no production tool, can run without an operating system in the background with which the applications or tools must be compatible.The crucial importance of the operating system may be glimpsed from the fact that the Justice Department investigated for more obvious misuses of its market power, but I believe it was the joint ownership of operating system and applications that clinched the case.) Now, to put all these terms together, the strength of the open-source movement lies in the fact that it has created alternative operating systems (such as ) and production tools (compilers, debuggers) as well as the fact that it distributes these alternative programs in its source form.Finally, I will introduce some ideas from the field of Transaction Cost economics (also known as Neo Institutionalist economics) which will prove useful in giving a more robust philosophical foundation to open-source practice.

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The purpose of this essay is not, however, to criticize these philosophical ideas but, on the contrary, to show that their low quality is quite irrelevant to the success of the movement, a success which, as I just pointed out, has been measured in practice by the enormous difficulty involved in defeating entrenched commercial interests.

In a nut shell, the moral of this essay is that what matters about the open-source movement is not so much the intentional actions of its main protagonists, actions which are informed by specific philosophies, but its unintended collective consequences. I will begin with a few definitions of technical terms ("source code", "compiler", "operating system") which are necessary to follow the rest of the paper.

The hacker movement referred to by the term "open-source" has burst into public consciousness in the last few years due to its spectacular success in the production of reliable and robust software.

Perhaps the most obvious symptom of this success is the fact that open-source software in several key areas (operating systems, server software) is the only serious alternative to the domination of the market by large corporations like .

Next, the term source code refers to one of the two main forms in which a computer program may exist.

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When a user buys a particular application from a commercial vendor, a word processor, for example, the program typically has a form which is next to unintelligible to human beings but perfect for a computer.

The economic problem of intellectual property is that when goods which are not rivalrous in consumption are made subject to property rights, the exclusion aspect of these rights generates social waste: given that additional copies of a given good may be generated and distributed at virtually no cost (this is particularly true of goods in digital form) excluding people from them means that wants will go unsatisfied, wants that could have been satisfied at very little cost to society.

On the other hand, not making these goods subject to property rights means that those producing them will have no incentive to do so, particularly if the costs of production happen to be high.

Then there is what is perhaps the most important piece of software of them all, the operating system.

Unlike applications, which are run to perform a particular task and then closed, an operating system is always running in the background (as long as the computer is turned on) linking all the different devices connected to the computer.


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