“Open source is a development method for software that harnesses the power of distributed peer review and transparency of process. The promise of open source is better quality, higher reliability, more flexibility, lower cost, and an end to predatory vendor lock-in.” – http://www.opensource.org/
Some 20 years back, who would have thought that such a system would work. We are beyond any doubt in a Capitalist world where competiton is rife and James Bond spies for big companies. Trade secrets are worth millions and companies don’t spare anything to protect them – the survival of their companies depend on that!
Yet in the software industry, the buzzword is opensource where everything is free – it sounds more like a some hippie movement of the 70’s advocation peace and love or communism where everything is shared. But stragely it works!
Firefox is opensource and is perhaps the best browser out there, Linux is opensource and most webservers in the world run on that (inlcuding most probably google), Midiawiki onto which Wikipedia is built is opensource. Open Office is totally free and is nearly as good as Ms Office.
All this differs a lot from what the software giant Microsoft is advocating – yet even microsoft has an open-source lab at its headquarters where it runs linux, apache,… . The main advantage of opensource is that it is developed by people who are enthusiastic about software development. They have a problem, don’t find any software that is good enough to solve their problem so they create their own – and when they do that, they have really created a software that solves a problem, not some generics which Microsoft hads to propose to suit everyone.
And all that is free, totally free and essentially you can have a complete computer system and pay nothing for the software, not a single penny to Microsoft.