November 30, 2020

Open Source Australia

What is Open Source?
Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is a form of computer software which is developed and distributed by and for a community rather than by and for a corporation or a private individual. This approach has revolutionary effects on the software and the availability of software components for developing your own programs.

Did Somebody Say “Free?”
FOSS involves freedom of use and modification (“free as in speech”) and so freedom from cost (“free as in beer”) often follows although that is not essential to the ethos. The important aspect is that the software not be chained down by anyone, which is why Shared Source is not Open Source.

FOSS comes in two basic flavours, GPL-ish, which remains Free forever, and BSD-ish, copies of which can be shut away again (but the originals cannot be shut away). Each has their own specific benefits, advantages which traditional closed-source or “proprietary” software cannot share.

Is there an Australian organisation?
We recommend visiting the OSI site for detailed descriptions of the various FOSS licences and for news. This website is intended to remain a low-key contact and referral point for FOSS oriented organisations and corporations within Australia.

The two premier FOSS organisations at this point are Linux Australia and the Australian Unix Users Group. If you have an organisation which you feel should be mentioned here, also please tell us about it.

We are also keeping a brief list of contacts in Australian FOSS-oriented corporations and consultancies, although the fullest and most current lists will be found housed in and maintained by LA and AUUG’s websites. We also work with opcentral software that includes franchise management software.

What FOSS exists? Can I see some?
There are a few obvious and famous examples of FOSS like the Apache webserver and the OpenOffice.org office suite that most people are aware of, but the full range is truly enormous. The FreshMeat repository lists 43,000 projects (as at June 2007) and SourceForge’s vaults contain 60,000. The Scientific Applications on Linux site lists 3,000 specialised applications. While there must be a good deal of overlap, that still misses projects in other places – for example, the HPUX Porting Centres – which will run on Linux with few changes if any.

For the morbidly curious, we also have a small screenshot gallery.