Open source and free culture fdm 20c introduction to digital media lecture 16. 10. 2008

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  • warren sack / film & digital media department / university of california, santa cruz

last time: conceptual art / software art

outline for today

  • definition: what is open source software?
  • examples of open source software
  • history of free software and open source
  • open source business models
  • open source software development model
  • open source art?
    • what, other than software, might be open source?
  • free culture: open source licensing models & beyond
  • where will possible midterm questions be posted?

what is open source software?

  • Open Source software is distributed with its source code. The Open Source Definition has three essential features:
    • It allows free re-distribution of the software without royalties or licensing fees to the author
    • It requires that source code be distributed with the software or otherwise made available for no more than the cost of distribution
    • It allows anyone to modify the software or derive other software from it, and to redistribute the modified software under the same terms.
      • Steven Weber, The Political Economy of Open Source Software, BRIE Working Paper 140,

what is free/libre/open source software?

  • Users are allowed to run the software for any purpose.
  • Users are able to closely examine and study the software and are able to freely modify and improve it to fill their needs better.
  • Users are able to give copies of the software to other people to whom the software will be useful
  • Users are able to improve the software and freely distribute their improvements to the broader public so that they, as a whole, benefit.
    • FLOSS Is Not Just Good for Your Teeth

Other definitions of OSS

  • Florian Cramer essay assigned in today’s readings
  • Note also that Eben Moglen of Columbia University and the Free Software Foundation (original author of the “copyleft” General Public License) is speaking today on campus: 3:00pm at the University Center in the Alumni Room.

examples of open source software

  • Operating Systems
    • Linux
    • FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD: The BSDs are all based on the Berkeley Systems Distribution of Unix, developed at the University of California, Berkeley. Another BSD based open source project is Darwin, which is the foundation of Apple's Mac OS X.

examples of open source software

  • Internet
    • Apache, which runs over 50% of the world's web servers.
    • BIND, the software that provides the DNS (domain name service) for the entire Internet.
    • sendmail, the most important and widely used email transport software on the Internet.
    • Mozilla, the open source redesign of the Netscape Browser
    • OpenSSL is the standard for secure communication (strong encryption) over the Internet.categories.

example of open source software

  • Programming Tools
    • Zope, and PHP, are popular engines behind the "live content" on the World Wide Web.
    • Languages:
      • Perl
      • Python
      • Ruby
      • Tcl/Tk
    • GNU compilers and tools
      • GCC
      • Make
      • Autoconf
      • Automake
      • etc.

open source software sites

  • Free Software Foundation
  • Open Source Initiative
  • see also individual project sites; e.g.,;; etc.

some dates from the history of open source

  • 1970s: UNIX operating system developed at Bell Labs and by a diverse group of contributors outside of Bell Labs; later AT&T enforces intellectual property rights and “closes” the code
  • 1983: Richard Stallman founds the Free Software Foundation
  • 1993: Linus Torvalds releases first version of Linux built
  • 1997: Debian Free Software Guidelines released
  • 1998: Netscape releases Navigator in source

conventional models of software development

  • waterfall
    • from requirements to code without a backward turn
  • spiral
    • iterative cycles of requirements, development, testing, redrafting of requirements, etc.
      • B. W. Boehm. “A spiral model of software development and enhancement”. IEEE Computer, 21(5):61--72, 1988

open source software development

  • bazaar
    • “Treating your users as co-developers is your least-hassle route to rapid code improvement and effective debugging.”
    • Linus’s Law: “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.”
    • Eric Steven Raymond, The Cathedral and the Bazaar,

open source software development

open source business models

  • service
  • support
  • education
  • extensions

open source companies

  • IBM
      • uses and develops Apache and Linux; created Secure Mailer and created other software on AlphaWorks
  • Apple
      • released core layers of Mac OS X Server as an open source BSD operating system called Darwin; open sourced the QuickTime Streaming Server, the OpenPlay network gaming toolkit, etc.
  • HP
  • Sun
      • uses Linux; supports some open source development efforts(Forte IDE for Java and the Mozilla web browser)

open source companies

  • Red Hat Software
    • Linux vendor
  • ActiveState
    • develops and sells professional tools for Perl, Python, and Tcl/tk developers.

open source licensing

  • see
    • apache software license
    • python license
    • ibm public license
    • apple public source license
    • etc.

GNU General Public License

  • see

creative commons

  • non-software licenses: see larry lessig’s “creative commons” project (

creative commons’ licenses explained

  • Attribution. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your copyrighted work — and derivative works based upon it — but only if they give you credit.
    • Example: Jane publishes her photograph with an Attribution license, because she wants the world to use her pictures provided they give her credit. Bob finds her photograph online and wants to display it on the front page of his website. Bob puts Jane's picture on his site, and clearly indicates Jane's authorship.

creative commons’ licenses explained

  • Noncommercial. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform your work — and derivative works based upon it — but for noncommercial purposes only.
    • Examples: Gus publishes his photograph with a Noncommercial license. Camille incorporates a piece of Gus's image into a collage poster. Camille is not allowed to sell her collage poster without Gus's permission.

creative commons’ licenses explained

  • No Derivative Works. You let others copy, distribute, display, and perform only verbatim copies of your work, not derivative works based upon it.
    • Example: Sara licenses a recording of her song with a No Derivative Works license. Joe would like to cut Sara's track and mix it with his own to produce an entirely new song. Joe cannot do this without Jane's permission (unless his song amounts to fair use).

creative commons’ licenses explained

  • Share Alike. You allow others to distribute derivative works only under a license identical to the license that governs your work.

open source as art

  • 2004 golden nica award from ars electronica to the creative commons project
  • 1999 golden nica award from ars electronica to the linux operating system
  • See the ‘Takeovers & Makeovers’ conference, November 7 & 8, 2008 @ UC Berkeley

art as open source

  • open_source_art_hack, 2002
    • steve dietz and jenny marketou
  • florian cramer essay

is software a form of politics?

  • The code of cyberspace -- whether the Internet, or net within the Internet -- the code of cyberspace defines that space. It constitutes that space. And as with any constitution, it builds within itself a set of values, and possibilities, that governs life there ... I've been selling the idea that we should assure that our values get architected into this code. That if this code reflects values, then we should identify the values that come from our tradition -- privacy, free speech, anonymity, access -- and insist that this code embrace them if it is to embrace values at all. Or more specifically still: I've been arguing that we should look to the structure of our constitutional tradition, and extract from it the values that are constituted by it, and carry these values into the world of the Internet's governance -- whether the governance is through code, or the governance is through people.
  • “Open Code and Open Societies: Values of Internet Governance,” Larry Lessig (1999)

open source in general

  • what, other than software, might be open source?

larry lessig on free culture

  • larry lessig’s book entitled free culture
  • you can download it for free from here:
  • you can listen to him explain it here:

next time: networks and protocols

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