This movement to share digital work started with software development, particularly with the GNU project. Driven by the ethical implications to respect the users’ freedom, this social movement formed the term free software (as in freedom) indicating the user is free to share, study and modify the software. While this term is often confused with open source software, ‘the philosophy of open source considers issues in terms to make software “better” – in a practical sense only’ . Open source software covers all flavors of software from the operating system to applications.
The BCS Open Source Specialist group uses the inclusive definition by the Open Source Initiative (OSI):
‘The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.’ .
We embrace this definition because it not only covers open source software but other artifacts like hardware designs — note that not necessarily obtaining these rights on designs must be gratis.
Open Source software development has risen to prominence in the last decade; mostly due to the success of the Linux kernel. Often controversial, this practice offers a radically different approach to the production of software. Although based on the same principles of software engineering that have been around for decades, open source development has a more humanistic approach in which the source code is the most valuable artifact.
The BCS Open Source Specialist Group exists to help demystify open source practice and its implications, to illuminate the pros and cons of open source and to act as a centre of expertise within the BCS. Through lively debate, presentations and leading by example, we aim to showcase the potential of open source software development and the impact it may have on software engineering in the future.
Aims of the OSSG
The BCS Open Source Specialist Group aims to:
- Educate and inform members and the wider audience of Open Source and its implications
- Provide a reliable, honest and independent view of Open Source
- Encourage debate and examination of Open Source practice
- Reduce professional uncertainty around the subject of Open Source
- Act as a centre of expertise for BCS use
A printable version of our constitution is available here
- Free Software Foundation: What is free software and why is it so important for society?
- Open Source Initiative: What is open source?
- GNU Operating System: What is free Software?