Saturday, October 27, 2007

Open Source

I've been digging around this topic, and though it's not singularly a "GIS" one, a GIS is an Information System. So, I asked, who runs on Free or Open Source Software (FOSS)? Just niche users and rebels without a cause?

Well, the Internet runs on Open Source, for one:

- The BIND name server resolves web addresses to Internet Protocol (IP) numbers
- The Apache web server serves most Web sites
- The MySQL database runs many online applications
- The PHP programming language is used on a third of the internet
- The GNU/ Linux operating system drives many PCs and servers.

LAMP servers, which combine the Linux OS, Apache Web Server, MySQL database and PHP/ Perl/ Python programming languages, are a well established solution for hosting companies.

Supercomputers run on Open Source too! In fact, it seems most of them do. GNU/ Linux powers over three-quarters of the world's fastest supercomputers including the 8th-ranked US's National Centre for Supercomputing Applications Abe, the 9th-ranked Barcelona Supercomputing Centre Mare Nostrum and 10th-ranked Germany's Leibniz Computing Centre HLRB II.

But who uses Open Source? Answer: Yahoo!, Google, Amazon, Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia, Facebook, the New York Times, the BBC, your PlayStation and various mobile phones. It will seem obscure if you don't manage servers, but here's Open Source software developed by the NY Times.

On the user-side, the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird mail client and OpenOffice office suite are all Open Source. The point made in the previous excerpted article, that the Caribbean needs to invest in FOSS, is very well supported.

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