5 Awesome Things About Open Source

My newfound love for Liferea has caused me to check how this blog appears in it. EasyBlog works quite nicely overall, but doesn’t appear to play terribly nicely with feed readers. It was trying to tell my feed that everything in it had just been updated, which isn’t true. I resolved to fix this myself. This leads me to the reasons why open source is awesome.

Awesome Thing 1: You can read the code to figure out how it works

This is incredibly useful. On innumerable occasions I have had to reverse engineer a piece of software, slowly and painfully, because I couldn’t read the source code. It took me about 2 minutes to find the piece of code in EasyBlog that was responsible for generating the RSS feed.

Awesome Thing 2: You can fix bugs yourself if you want to

All I had to do was to add a line to create a <lastBuildDate/> tag and now Liferea doesn’t think I have 34 new posts every time it checks my blog. Problem solved!

Awesome Thing 3: You can add features yourself if you want to

While I was at it, I also added some features to the feed: copyright information, the portal logo, item categories; it was all really easy to add.

Awesome Thing 4: You can share your modifications with other people

Click through and you can see the full text of the modified file.

Awesome Thing 5: You can usually do this for free

Open source doesn’t necessarily mean free of charge for everyone: our seafelt software, for example, is free for non-commercial use, but we expect people who use it commercially to pay for it. Everyone still gets the source, but to distribute it yourself would infringe on our copyright. We think it strikes a good balance to do things this way.

So what do you think is awesome about Open Source?

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  1. “Everyone still gets the source, but to distribute it yourself would infringe on our copyright.”

    That’s certainly not Free software, then, and I’m pretty sure it doesn’t meet the official Open Source Definition.

  2. You’re quite right. seafelt isn’t Open Source via the definition by the Open Source Initiative. There is provision for some restrictions on distributing derivative works in the OSI definition, but we’d be splitting hairs to say seafelt met the criterion. Let’s just say it doesn’t and be done with it.

    On re-reading this post, my intention was to point out that you can pay for Open Source software; it doesn’t have to be free of charge. seafelt is a bad example. Maybe RedHat is a better example?

    I don’t want to seem like I’m changing history, but do you think I should update the post so it’s more accurate?

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