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[OS:N:] OSS Business Letter

Dear OS:N members:

Please criticize and check this letter for errors
before I fire it off to anyone, as I don't want to
earn a bad reputation among Fortune 500 businesses...


Dear sir or madam:

Have you heard of open source? If so, you have almost
certainly heard a deluge of adamant debates exchanged
between the advocate camp of open source and its
opposition, Microsoft and its constituents. The
purpose of this letter is to inform you on the
advantages of open source as a business element, in
addition to dispelling the myths that persistently
surround open source. The focus of this letter is an
open source operating system known as Linux, which you
have probably heard of before, if not substantially
cognizant of it. The letter will be formatted into
rhetorical questions with answers, somewhat like a FAQ

What is open source software?

Open source software is the practice of widespread
distribution the source code of one's programs with
the intention that they will be improved, expand, and
be repaired by the collective thousands of programming
minds willing to participate, under the terms of an
array of open source licenses, such as the BSD
license, the General Public License (GPL), the Corel
Public License, the Qt License, and so forth. There is
a major distinction between open source and freeware;
open source simply means that the program's source
code is distributed in some manner, whereas freeware
means that the program is in the public domain and
must not be distributed for a fee. Most open source
licenses, including the two most prominent of them
all, GPL and BSD, allow for fees. However, open source
is well known to be inexpensive and often free.

Is OSS communist?

I certainly hope not. Science's method of development
has resembled the open source routine of distributing
source code since its Balkan infancy, but especially
since the introduction of the science journal in
France during the 1700s. If open source is communist,
did communism originate in Greece? No, I think that
was democracy.   

If it's cheap, isn't it of poor quality?

Well, not neccesarily. A book called the Linux Network
Administrator's Guide, a very commendable book, is
available in bookstores for the average price of
$40.00. On the other hand, the book is available for
free on the Linux Documentation Site,
http://www.linuxdoc.org. The content is of the same
quality in both situations, so I doubt that criticism
of open source is at all valid. 

Aren't it's developers scr1pt d00dz and l33t h#ck3rz?

If one has even casually glanced at the bustling
activity of open source and Linux in particular, the
aforementioned notion vaporizes into thin air. There
is not a script kiddie alive who could create such
renowned technological marvels as:

Perl - originally implemented as an open source
language interpreter for system administration
obstacles. Now one of the most popular web programming
tools in use; your website probably uses it.

Beowulf - an open source Linux cluster application, a
program which integrates the processors of upwards of
hundreds of machines to concentrate on a problem that
very well may pertain unraveling the black contrivance
of the Universe itself; high-ranking in the National
Center for Supercomputing Applications most powerful
supercomputer list, and a preferred workhorse of NASA,
and while I'm speaking of NASA:

FlightLinux - a NASA Linux project which facilitates a
link between Mission Control and the spearhead of our
first international ventures towards taming outer
space, the International Space Station.

Apache - The predominant web server at well over 50%
server market share, object of countless derivatives
such as Stronghold and thttpd, and the preferred web
server of root DNS servers such as rs.internic.net.

Script kiddies cannot keep a historically substantial
piece of metal in orbit, nor can they acquire half of
the world server market. The people who develop opne
source are dedicated, talented, and what's more, the
work of theses thousands essentially costs you

How do I know the volunteer maintenance and
development of Linux will endure?

Why not ask Bill Gates himself, who, although
frequently detracting the open source movement,
underwrites National Public Radio, a movement that
wholly relies on volunteer efforts?

Will OSS fragment?

Yes and no, depending on the project. As long as there
are tight controls on an open source project and
standards such as POSIX to comply to, fragmentation is
not probable. Let's examine Linux:

Tight controls - In respect to the official releases
of Linux components, such as the kernel, or core of
the operating system, the maintainers of the website
for the kernel, http://www.kernel.org/ hear about any
changes in the source that a programmer wishes to
make. If they do not disrupt or undermine normal
operation of the system and adhere to good programming

practices, they will be included in the next release.
Thusly, there can be scores of unofficial versions of
the kernel with no central control whatsoever, but
changes to the official version of the kernel are
always approved by a central point of control. As a
result, neither the Linux kernel, nor GNOME desktop,
nor GNU C Compiler have fragmented.

Standards - Linux complies to POSIX as well as the
Linux Standard Base. See http://www.linuxbase.org.

[more to come later...]               


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