Open Source is the application of Marxist communism to software development. In general it involves making the secret codes of a piece of software available to the public, allowing the public to modify the software and removing accountability for bad design from the original developer. Most open-source software is also made available to users free of charge, a practice which has led to accusations of illegal price-fixing due to commercial software developers being unable to compete against a product that is given away.
Open source software is widely used by Communist governments, most notably China, which maintains its own Linux distribution, Red Flag Linux. In addition, much open source software is built and maintained outside the US, beyond the reach of American copyright and patent law; as a result, page layout and graphics programs, for example, often default to metric measurements and page sizes rather than standard US measurements.
Open source advocate Theo de Raadt was once quoted as saying that a proper open source license should not forbid the use of open source software in a device such as a "baby mulcher", bringing up ethical questions of providing access to cutting-edge technology to those who wish to use it unjustly. In addition, much open source software is licensed with the controversial GNU General Public License, an ultra-liberal "viral" license that requires that the source code of all products made with the licensed code be released to the public under the same terms.
Examples of Open Source's Effect on the Market
- In 2003, The SCO Group sued IBM for adding proprietary Unix code to the then-current release of Linux, highlighting the possibility of proprietary code being stolen and illegally released to the public.
- In 2005, Sun Microsystems was forced to start giving away their Solaris operating system due to overwhelming competition to the free Linux system.
- Also in 2005, the Massachusetts chief information technology officer resigned as the result of a scandal that would have required the state to move its data storage requirements from standard Microsoft formats to untested open-source data formats.