Open Source Library Systems: Getting Started


Dan Chudnov over at has written an excellent article for those not familiar with what open source projects, and how they can be used in libraries.

The biggest news in the software industry in recent months is open source. Every week in the technology news we can read about IBM or Oracle or Netscape or Corel announcing plans to release flagship products as open source or a version of these products that runs on an open source operating system such as Linux. In its defense against the Department of Justice, Microsoft has pointed to Linux and its growing market share as evidence that Microsoft cannot exert unfair monopoly power over the software industry. Dozens of new open source products along with regular news of upgrades, bug fixes, and innovative new features for these products are announced every day at web sites followed by thousands. Open Source: What it is and Why it Works

If you\'ve ever used the internet, you\'ve used open source
software. Many of the servers and applications running on machines
throughout the wired world rely on software created using the open
source process. Examples of such software are Apache, the most widely
used web server in the world, and sendmail, "the backbone of the
Internet\'s email server hardware." [TOR] Open source means
several things:

  • Open source software is
    typically created and maintained by developers crossing
    institutional and national boundaries, collaborating by using
    internet-based communications and development tools;

  • Products are typically a
    certain kind of "free", often through a license that
    specifies that applications and source code (the programming
    instructions written to create the applications) are free to use,
    modify, and redistribute as long as all uses, modifications, and
    redistributions are similarly licensed; [GPL]

  • Successful applications tend to
    be developed more quickly and with better responsiveness to the
    needs of users who can readily use and evaluate open source
    applications because they are free;

  • Quality, not profit, drives
    open source developers who take personal pride in seeing their
    working solutions adopted;

  • Intellectual property rights to open source software belong
    to everyone who helps build it or simply uses it, not just the
    vendor or institution who created or sold the software.

More succinctly, from the definition at

"Open source promotes software reliability and
quality by supporting independent peer review and rapid evolution of
source code. To be certified as open source, the license of a program
must guarantee the right to read, redistribute, modify, and use it
freely." [OSS]

Software peer review is much like the peer review process in
research. Peer review bestows a degree of validity upon the
quality of research. Publications with a high "trust factor"
contribute ideas in published works to the knowledge base
of the entire communities they serve.

The entire article appears here:

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