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Like free stuff? Well I am sure you would enjoy not paying for the software that is on your computer, that would make buying a computer easier and cheaper. In turn your computer would be more secure, less likely to crash, get a virus, or have a problem. Because there would be thousands of programmers working on one thing. Making that piece of software the best it can be. Already major companies are quickly supporting the Open Source Software movement like Netscape, IBM, Transmeta, HP, Sun, Dell and many more. What made all these companies support the Open Source Software movement? 0pen source is defined in the Open source Directive which will be discussed in the business solutions/law section. My thesis is that open source software is better than "closed source" software, and I will attempt to prove that now. Subjects that I will be covering will be privacy/security, business solutions/law, general benefits.

 

In the 1970s some AT&T employees (mainly Kenneth Thompson and Dennis Ritchie) were working on an Operating System (described later in the paper) which they rewrote in a new language that Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan had made called C. C is a very high level programming language, which means it is not easy to use but you have a lot of flexibility, it is also optimized and it can be used for anything as long as you have a library to tell the computer how to do that task. That Operating System (Operating system will now be known as 'OS') is known as UNIX(r) and it is the start of all OS's. Why this OS is so ground breaking is that it was the first OS that was able to be ported to different system architectures (different computers speak the same language but a different dialect so they must be changed if it is going to be put on a different system. Normally a completely new OS would have to be written for each computer this made the already high priced computers even higher priced. But UNIX allowed for easy little changes to be made to the OS instead of writing a new OS.) UNIX was originally written for the PDP-7 but has been ported to many different systems. These big computers (servers) where purchased by universities, big companies, militaries, governments, and other organizations with lots of money, space, and trained people to use these machines. When these organizations had bought these servers they use them for uses like making battle simulations, running payment systems, counting things, math equations, and specifically universities would purchase them to have students learn how to program them. But the electricity and cooling costs made them not only expensive to buy but also to run, so the time on these machines was very valuable there was no time for games or mistakes. Around this time the microprocessor came to be cheaper and easer to make, they also became smaller and faster this allowed for them to be put in smaller and less powerful computers called microcomputers. These computers where cheaper but also did not come with as much stuff as the bigger servers came with they also had to have OS's so they where made by the same pattern so the same OS could be used. Running these computers alone was not efficient so the United States government wanted to be able to have other machines run off of the big server so that way they could use the big resources (resources as in disk space, processor computation, and memory usage) on the big servers and not take up the small resources on the microcomputers.

The Department of Defense was chosen to work on a connecting the computers together in hopes that it would some how help the military. So a subdivision of the Department of Defense (DoD) was created called Advanced Research Projects Agency also known as ARPA. The goal of this project was to create something that the military could use, the real reason is unknown many ideas. The ARPA network know as ARPAnet was not completed on one certain date/day, instead it evolved into what we have now; the internet. The technology that really allows the Internet to work is an architecture called Ethernet developed by Xerox around 1973. The Internet works on a protocol called IP or Internet Protocol, but getting into this would only complicate things even more. So far we have UNIX programmed in C, UNIX runs on big servers which are connected to other computers and servers, these computers are connected by an architecture called Ethernet, IP is what the Internet uses to be able to function.

To be able to use this technology you need educated people to use it. Universities saw this and decided to teach students how to use these computers, so they taught courses on UNIX, C, Operating Systems, FORTRAN, COBOL, and many other programming languages. So universities would by the servers and the students would use them when they could, because time on these machines was very valuable. Two of these universities that bought these big servers was University of Helsinki(Finland) and Mass. Institute of Technology. MIT had the smartest students developing programs for fun and for a grade. The students helped each other develop programs by sharing. Richard Stallman of MIT around 1971, liked the concept of programmers helping programmers for one common goal to make the best program. That was all taken away from him when MIT disallowed any and all sharing of the source code because they wanted to make money. So Richard Stallman quit and created a organization called GNU which stands for "GNU is Not UNIX" he began making an editing program called "emacs" which was licensed under his own license called the GNU General Public License. Which is metioned more later on. Richard Stallman went all over speaking to many people about the free software revelution, one of these places was University of Helsinki.

 

Privacy is important to most people, I know I value privacy that is why I close my blinds when I change clothes and why I shower with the door closed, and why we have privacy windows, one where you can't see in but light can still get through. Would you like it if your window blinds where left open all day long? Would you like it if I could find out what phone numbers you call on your cell phone? What if your personal information was being transmitted over the internet, with the risk of attackers intercepting that information on its way to a company, all this without you being told that it was happening information such as what websites you go to and what movies/songs you have watched/listened too? Would you like if a company had this information and had the chance of selling it to other companies for lots of money then the question comes up. Privacy, how much is it worth? What if you could get it for free? With open source software you can see what the maker of the software is trying to do. Even if you don't understand the code there will be someone out there that does and he or she will report that to other people and word will be out that that person is trying to do something wrong.

With Windows XP's new Windows Media Player (which is built in and cannot be removed) sends what DVD movies are being played to Microsoft. Not only that but it keeps a log of what movies have been played, on the hard drive which cannot be removed. This was intentional, its not like it could happen by accident. There is no way of getting rid of this "feature" instead users are forced to deal with it. This and possibly more lurk inside Windows, and it is not only Windows it is many other proprietary products. The only people that know are the developers. There is a solution to this, make the software open source. We don't even know if Microsoft's Internet Explorer is sending information about which websites you vist, or whether it is making advertisments pop-up.

Many big name websites rely on open source software to be secure. The reason is that they use an open source OS some of these websites are www.google.com, redhat.com, amazon.com, yahoo.com, qwest.net, geocities.com and many more(netcraft.com). Sites like hotmail.com, microsoft.com ("Microsoft.com Running on Linux"), and msn.com ("Open-source Apache encroaches on Microsoft") say that they run Windows and IIS but other results(noted beside each site.) prove differently. The company's Hotmail free e-mail service for years used the FreeBSD operating system and the Apache Web server, both leading open-source programs. "After buying Hotmail in 1997, Microsoft tried to replace FreeBSD with its own Windows software(quote http://zdnet.com.com/2100-11-530058.html?legacy=zdnn)." This information maybe old, but it is still accurate because switching from a web server is not easy especially a big website like msn and hotmail. Still others run the open source web server Apache. Microsoft believes in "security through obsucity

I will be comparing the vulnerabilities through the year of 2000. The opponents will be Windows NT/2000 (because they are the samething) and Debian/GNU Linux 2.2. Windows NT/2000 had over 97 vulnerabilities ("SecurityFocus Vulns Stats") not including the 73,553+ virus' that Sophos has so far identified ("73,553 and counting..."). Compared to Debian/GNU Linux with only 55 vulnerabilities. This comparison is still unfair because they included vulnerabilities of packages that were optional (pieces of software that is not required for the operating system to function things like GNOME, Emacs, Libraries, games and other tools), and did not include the vulnerabilities of software that is not optional in Windows like Internet Explorer, Windows media player, Outlook Express.

 

Making money is not easy when you product is free, but yet companies still flourish by doing this. Making money is the essence of business if a company is not making money it is not invested in and people don't make money. I will show how these companies like Red Hat, VA Software, IBM, Netscape, and many more. You can have a product that is open source and still make money. My thesis is that businesses can make their software open source and still profit from it.

Red Hat Linux is the leading Linux Distribution, they offer their distribution for free and for a price, here is how. The GPL which will be discussed further in this section states that you can sell the product as long as you still offer the product for free some how some way. You can buy their product and you will get all the documentation in printed form, free support if you need it for 30 days, and the CDROM's for the install and Sun Star Office 5.2 ("Red Hat Linux 7.3 Personal"). This way they still make money off of those who do not have a CD-RW drive or have dial-up and it will take too long for them to download or maybe people just want the support and documentation. Red Hat makes money by selling the packages and by selling support. They will give you tech support if your server goes down. In 1989 Berkeley Computer Systems Research Group came out with Networking release 1 it was the TCP/IP protocols together for UNIX machines. They decided to sell it, the license they came up with was very unique, if you paid the $1,000 for the source you could do whatever you wanted with it (book). Kirk McKusick shares how he felt when they did this “We thought that two groups would pay the money and then put the code on the Internet, but in fact, hundreds of sites actually paid the $1,000 for it, mostly so they could get a piece of paper from the university saying you can do whatever you want with this.(free for all)”. Or a company can just give out the source like Netscape did in 1998 and release the source for their web browser ("Press Release"). The company is still growing and is still an open source company.

 

 

In this crazy world where people sue and get sueded over the stupidest things, there is law. One thing will alway remain the same and that is that lawyers will always exist and everytime a lawyer is involved with a document you can be assured that when you read it you will get confused and as Linus Trovalds says "

The GPL General Public License version 2 was written in June 1991 which is the current edition of the license.

 

References:

 

"SecurityFocus Vulns Stats" August 2001, Security Focus.

http://securityfocus.com/vulns/stats.html

 

"73,553 and counting..." May 6, 2002 The Information & Technology Publishing Co. Ltd

www.itp.net/news/102066922551739.htm

 

"Serious privacy problems in Windows Media Player for Windows XP" February 20, 2002

http://www.computerbytesman.com/privacy/wmp8dvd.htm

 

"Red Hat Linux 7.3 Personal" http://www.redhat.com/software/linux/personal/ ????

 

"Microsoft.com Running on Linux" January 26, 2001 Specialized Systems Consultants, Inc.

http://www.linuxjournal.com/article.php?sid=4962

 

"Open-source Apache encroaches on Microsoft" July 15, 1999 CNET Networks, Inc.

http://news.com.com/2100-1001-228531.html?tag=rn

 

"What's that site running results"

http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/

 

Wayner, Peter. "Free for All"

 

"Press Release"

http://wp.netscape.com/newsref/pr/newsrelease558.html

Glossary

 

Source code - When a program is written it is made in a programming language, this programming language can only be read by humans. So it must go through a complier which translates it to the machines language, (the complier is a translator and optimizer) the source code is highly valued by programmers because it tells them how the program was made. Think of it as blue prints for a house.

Libraries – In programming you need to tell the machine what to do, you do this using libraries. When the machine does not know what to do it will look to on of those libraries to find out.

Operating System – The operating system is the middleman between you and your computer if you have no operating system you cannot use your computer, it is “lifeless”. It makes life easier by letting you learn how to use the operating system instead of inputting 1’s and 0’s (binary AKA machine language) Examples of operating systems Windows, Mac OS, DOS, Linux, UNIX.