Why give software source code away for free? The answer can be found in an enlightening book, The Cathedral and The Bazaar, written by author and programmer Eric S. Raymond. The idea of freely exchanging source code is a successful venture that was monopolized on by Linux when designing their operating system: Linux. The thousands of programmers who teamed up over the Internet to design the Linux system proved that open source works and can be very successful. Raymond basically argues that the development of the Linux operating system was based on the cathedral affect, in which individuals working in isolation carefully design and code a program, without any influence from central management, with the standards and solid structure of a cathedral.
The Cathedral and the Bazaar revolves around Raymond's experience in creating a program called “fetchmail” by the open source method. As he describes the software
development process, he annotates the story with lessons about open source programming and how well it worked for him. There is a mecca of information and testimonial about open sourcing, but one of Raymond's key points is that the normal functions of management are not needed with open source development. He explains the role of management in a traditional system as outlining the project goals, keeping everybody pointed in the same direction, monitor the project to assure details do not get overlooked, motivate people to do the necessary work, and organize the deployment of people for best productivity, then he states that none of these tasks are need to be performed by management for open source projects. Raymond explains and proves that the central management is not necessary and that everything can be handled by the many programmers and that open source design is a more efficient in design and a better end result for the consumer.
Open source produces better software because, with so many developers working on it simultaneously, new features are implemented more quickly and bugs are tracked down more effectively. There have been any other software packages and programs designed using open source. Even the common
Netscape Navigator Internet browser has its source code available. So way are business like Netscape, Linux, Red Hat, and Caldera Systems endorsing open source, when its programs are distributed for free? By open sourcing their software the systems become obviously more affordable and they can earn their money from technical support and custom system modifications. Many businesses that install an open source program may have problems or difficulties adapting it to their current system. Having the source code gives the system administrators of that company the ability to modify the software and correct bugs. Plus, having the source code gives them the ability to easily adapt the system.
To view The Cathedral and The Bazaar online visit Eric S. Raymond’s web site at <http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/index.html>. Many Open source programs and other resources can also be found on his web page.