THE BENEFIT OF OPEN SOURCE TECHNOLOGY
Have you ever watched the movie "Anti-Trust"? It is the story about a computer genius named Milo who was voluntarily hired by a software company called N.U.R.V. to help them build a universal communicating system. Milo thought that he had found his dream job, but when he discovered that the company he had joined was linked to many killings against programmers, including his best friend. He did not waste time, he tries to beat the killers by using the same system. The story ends in the arrest of the N.U.R.V.''s CEO which was the mastermind together with all of those who participated in the crime and the source code for the system was distributed via internet - The source code where his friend and other programmers have died for.
In that story, there''s a very clear message and that is:
"Human knowledge belongs to the world". When I heard this, it reminds me about how important open source technology is.
Open source software refers to any computer program in which the source code can be available for amateur and professional programmers to review, modify and distribute for more improvements. Others also call them "Freeware" or "Shareware" because it can also be downloaded for free. However, the name "open source" has more appeal to businesses / commercial enterprises.
If you were aware of software piracy, you may be afraid to buy and use illegal copies of proprietary software, am I right? And you already know what will be the consequences and complications.
It''s just very sad that here in the Philippines, there are still a large number of companies and schools who were only trained to use proprietary software like Windows. It''s okay if you use genuine and if you have license for it. But what if you don''t?
We all know that using pirated media is considered a crime and if have caught in the act, you might suffer painful fines, and even imprisonment.
In the other hand, all open source software are released under the General Public License (GPL) which grants a user to review, modify and distribute the source code for a more efficient program, in this way, you don''t need to wait for the original author / manufacturer to release series of updates and future versions of a certain software.
Linux is a successful example of this. 1992, when Finnish software engineer Linus Torvalds created the Linux OS kernel and released it under the GPL. Linux almost have the same interface compared to the usual Windows. There were just some differences when it comes to disk drive labels and paths. For example, ''C:\'' denotes commonly a hard disk drive while Linux represents it as "hda" or "hdc"
Today, Linux is now distributed in many forms such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux and Suse Linux. Here in the Philippines, we have our very own version called Bayanihan GNU/Linux developed by Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (ASTI-DOST). It comes with useful office and multimedia tools such as OpenOffice, X Media Player and some cool games.
In 2004, The Open Source Technology Association of the Philippines (Open Minds) was established. Their aim is to promote and encourage Filipinos to use open source software.
However, this endeavor will not work without the support of the entire IT community especially our schools.
I suggest they should think about teaching the use of open source to their students, and those in offices should be trained how to use OpenOffice in substitute to Word and Excel. Just in case if a certain company had just a little budget, then using this alternative could help save them time and money.
Honestly, there are a lot of benefits we can get in using this kind of technology, if only we have the will to try and learn them.