FOSS as an ACM “Hot Topic”


The latest issue of ACM’s Computing Reviews contains a “hot topic” essay on open source software: Open Source: The Dark Horse of Software? Written by Phillip A. Laplante of Penn State, the essay provides a brief overview of the open source movement, mostly from a business perspective, and provides a very brief summaries of seven current research areas, including:

  • Open-Source Adoption Decision-Making and Business Value Proposition
  • Legal Issues (Licensing and Intellectual Property)
  • Qualities of Open-Source Software
  • Open-Source Community Characteristics
  • Source Code Structure and Evolution
  • Tools for Enabling OSS and Applications
  • Philosophical and Ethical Issue

The article provides some useful links to papers, books, and other resources on FOSS. About the closest it comes to “humanitarian” applications is this:

Clones of many well-known desktop and enterprise applications are available in open source, and these have become important to small businesses, nonprofit entities, and even governments of small and poor nations.

I doubt Richard Stallman will be happy with the following characterization of the relationship between GNU and Linux:

In 1983, Richard Stallman created a Unix-like operating system called GNU (a recursive acronym for “GNU is Not Unix”) and released it under a license that provided certain rights for use and redistribution—an open-source license. Eight years later, a graduate student at the University of Helsinki, Linus Torvalds, created another Unix-like operating system, Linux, which he also made available for free. Both Linux and GNU are still widely available, and their evolution spurred the creation of many other open-source software (OSS) programs.

Shouldn’t that be FOSS (Free and Open Source Software) or better yet F/LOSS (Free/Libre Open Source Software?

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