1. Who are you guys?
The Open Source Support Group is an OpenOpen affiliated site. Roughly, OpenOpen is a group of individuals dedicated to the promotion of Open Source and Free ( as in "freedom" ) software as an alternative to closed source software and proprietary document formats. These closed "standards" are usually designed to give less freedom to users and software developers, in an effort to have some control over them, usually by charging extortionate amounts of money for software licences.
2. You mean free software as in pirated software?
ABSOLUTELY NOT!! This site does in no way endorse the use of pirated software, let alone promote it! If you're looking for warez sites, you are urged to LEAVE IMMEDIATELY or hang around and be provided with a solution that best suits your needs.
3. Why have you suddenly decided to help people and what makes you think that people need help?
A lot of people haven't heard about Free software and wrongly believe that they have to pay large amounts of money for their favorite programs. Others associate open source software with Linux, which is partially true, and they believe it is for someone other than themselves. Others believe that Free software will be inferior to closed source and proprietary applications. They imagine that a corporate entity is likely to produce better software and give more reliable support than an open software development group, which is understandable, but untrue for many reasons. If you fall into one of those categories, we are here to provide you with opportunities you may have missed. We are here to show you that not only is Free software often superior when compared point to point with closed source software but that it is supported by a HUGE community of volunteers and corporate entities as well. We are here to convince you that you always have a choice!
4. I'm confused. What is this whole thing about "closed source" and "open source" applications?
The above terms refer to the availability of the program's source code. This code is the human readable computer code, that is used to create a runnable computer program. If you have the source code, you can create a runnable program, but if you just have the program, you cannot use it to see the source code.
Open source software is software that attracts the involvement of a huge community of developers who work constantly to improve open source programs. The result is that these programs get developed incredibly quickly and, with many developers checking each other's work, open source programs are generally much more stable than many closed source programs.
Closed source software, however, refers to the traditional method of developing software for the personal computer, championed by Microsoft in the late 1970s. This method involves allowing only a small group of developers (usually) from one company to see and change the program's source code. This means that when problems arise, all users of that program have to wait for the company responsible to fix the problem (which they sometimes do not do for a long time). Of course, the company may decide to charge money for this fix, they may choose not to fix the problem at all (often when they want to sell a newer version of the product), or the company may no longer exist, a harsh reality in the fast moving computer world.
None of these problems applies to open source software.
5. Are you trying to tell me that I have to change my existing Operating System?
No, we're not, even though that would be ideal for you in many cases, assuming you use Microsoft Windows. There are many open source applications out there which are in many ways equal and superior to closed source ones. These can usually be run on a large number of operating systems and computers. This is another benefit of open source programs, that they will often have been modified so they can be used on whatever system you already happen to be running.
6. Where can I find more information on free software and the accompanying licenses?
7. Nice, but how did all of this start?
OpenOpen started from a thread at the Microsoft Eradication Society Forums. This is the exact thread. Open source software itself has been gathering momentum for decades, as a natural alternative to closed source programs, restrictive software licences and closed file specifications. Click here to read more about the origins of the open source community.
1. Why GNU/Linux and not plain Linux?
Linux is not an operating system on its own but merely the kernel of the operating system. The applications that form the OS like the bash etc are released under the GNU/GPL (General Public License), therefore it is common and more proper to refer to Linux as GNU/Linux and not just Linux.
2. Who created Linux?
The Linux kernel was created by Linus Torvalds. Linus started working on the Linux kernel in 1991 when he was still a computer science major at the University of Helsinki in Finland. His source of inspiration was Minix, a portable Unix-like OS distributed for free for educational reasons. By the time the Linux kernel reached version 1.0 it had already attracted a HUGE amount of volunteers from all over the world.
3. How can anyone work on the Linux kernel? Doesn't that belong to Torvalds?
Torvalds decided to release the Linux kernel under the General Public License, therefore it is completely open source. People can work on it at home and bring it to their needs if they are experienced enough. If, on the other hand, a developer plans to release a new version of the Linux kernel, he/she has to mention the changes to Torvalds first.
1. What's the difference between the two groups?
It's really hard to find any differences between the two groups. Perhaps if one looks at both licenses very carefully, one could spot a few differences relating mostly to the extent of sharing and modifying the source code of the respective software.
2. If there aren't any major differences between them, how come there are two groups?
That is really a complicating answer and we are not so certain that we can answer it ourselves. Basically, the Open source Initiative was formed in 1998 from people that worked closely with the Free Software Foundation. The reason, according to the Open Source Initiative's homepage was to create a business standard for Open Source applications, that is to put some restrictions in the accompanying licenses so as to attract more software manufacturers.
3. So, how do I know which license comes with an application?
That shouldn't be too difficult to spot. Usually, every person that releases software under the GNU/GPL or similar license, would mention that this is the case. For example GNU/Linux, that is the Linux kernel and all accompanying applications, are released under the GPL license.
4. Do I have any warranty when I use applications released under the GPL (General Public License)?
Absolutely no warranty, sorry. Applications and software released under the GPL license come with no warranty whatsoever. That shouldn't trouble you though, since most if not all of those applications are excellent and extremely stable software. Take Linux for example. ;-)