Saturday, August 21, 2010

I have my Open Scorces

I wrote this as a post to SMW Central but it's a little to long and ranty, so it's better off here. I didn't really mean to make a rant, I just want to try and explain Open Source better because I don't think most people really understand what it is, and it's causing people to not want to use it.

There are a lot of programmers that absolutely refuse to make anything open source. Common logic that people seem to justify this with is that they will lose control over the project or that they will get no credit for their work (though I think most of the programmers themselves just say their code is sloppy and they don't think anyone could understand it, to which I say: "So?").

Here is the thing: That's not what "Open Source" is. Open Source means simply that the source is available. It does not mean you lose rights to it. It does not mean anyone can make their own versions of it. Heck it doesn't even imply people can modify it at all. It just means it's there if people want to peak at it to see how it works. I am not saying every program should be open source, I just mean it's not the same thing as "Free Software" where everyone can modify and mess with it and make subversions willy nilly. There are rules with what you can do with it. Hell even free software usually allows people credit.

Now I know handing you valuable source to the internet is scary and there are any number of people that can run off with it and make there own version, but really. Is a idiot who changes a program name or about page so hard to spot?

And yes. You shouldn't have to incorporate other people's code you don't understand that may break something into your project. And guess what? You don't have to. You are still in control. You never gave that up. If you see something useful that someone made with it you want to incorporate, you can do that too.

In short, disliking open source because of lack of creative or version control is bullshit, because you still have that. This isn't free software or public domain.

Or maybe you are just afraid they will make something BETTER then you can. But if they are prevented from uploading or using it anywhere except though you, it just means you get more work done on it. If your afraid people will steal your ideas or algorithms, then grow the hell up. Your ideas are not something you can protect or have any right to protect. Plus other people could probably make a whole new program to do the same thing. Yes the source makes this simpler to figure out how you did something, but you know what? This site is full of ASM hackers. Me included. And while PC ASM and such is different, it's still not THAT different. And thats assuming we can't figure out how to do the same thing in another way. The only thing protecting you right now is laziness. And that would protect a open source project almost as well.

Now I know this all is meaningless unless we can enforce this control. Guess what? We can. That is one of the reasons uploads and such are moderated and have a unloader and a author field. Yes it's not reasonable to expect full legal enforcement, but the rom hacking community we are part of can police it's self almost as well.

But it's not that I feel open source is the best solution to everyone's problem. It may in fact be impractical to package up the source, especially when proprietary libraries are involved (though I personally think some source is better then none). It's just that people seem to see open source as meaning no control, and it's not. Thats more free software, and even then, you still have some over what branches are official or not, and you still get credit.

Edit: I know no one cares but I was told of a good source of information related to this stuff here. Also helps explain how the term "open source" go to be misused.

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