Monthly Archives: September 2008

What is Open Source Software and Why is it Used?

What is Open Source Software?

Open Source Software (OSS) is software that is available under a special license that allows everyone to access the program code as well as the executable program. This means that anyone is able to edit the program code and therefore customise the software for their own needs.

This ability to access the source code is protected by the license under which the software is released. There is a great many Open Source licenses, but they all have one thing in common, they protect the right of the user of the software to access and modify it in any way they desire.

This ability to modify applications is in direct contrast to the Closed Source Software model. In Closed Source only the creator of the application has access to the source code, and therefore, only the creator is able to modify the application.

Being able to change the way an Open Source Software application operates is critical in many business environments. No two businesses are identical and therefore it is unlikely that any one piece of software will satisfy the needs of all potential users. Without the ability to modify their software a company is restricted in its operations by that software.

While it is true that no two businesses are identical, it is also true that there are a great many common business practices that are repeated across organisations. These common practices can be well served by “standard” software. The remaining practices, those that are different from competitors are, typically, the ones that give a business an advantage in the marketplace.

Since these non-standard practices are key to the organisations success it is critical that any software solutions adopted by the company also support these non-standard processes. It is in this need to adapt software to a companies specific needs that makes Open Source Software attractive. Since the company has access to the source, the application can be freely adapted to suit the unique requirements of each user.

Who Pays for Open Source Development?

The ability to customise software is critical to allow an organisation to continue to improve their business processes, but how does a company afford to pay for such customisations?

One of the side effects of allowing any user access to the source code is that the cost of acquiring the software in the first instance is massively reduced. In most cases the source code is available for no cost. This enables the user to divert resources normally allocated to pay software license fees into enhancing the software.

A successful Open Source Software project has a large community of software developers. Many of these developers work as independent contractors and can be employed to customise the software, alternatively, if a company has internal developer resources, they can leverage those skills to perform the customisations.

Does it Really Work?

This all sounds fantastic, but does it really work? Are there Open Source Applications in use in the real world?

Here are a few facts to convince you that it most certainly does work:

– Around 70% of web sites are served by the Open Source Apache HTTPD server.

– In a 2002 survey it was found over 31% of UK and nearly 42% of German companies were using or planning to use OSS.

– In 2001, Debian (an Open Source Operating System), contained over 55 million lines of code and was estimated to have consumed over 14,000 person years in development time. That is a development cost of around 1.89 Billion Dollars (US) yet it is still available with no license fees.

Linux or Windows – Which is it?

Computer users and programmers have become so accustomed to using Windows, even for the changing capabilities and the appearances of the graphical interface of the versions, therefore it has remained Microsoft’s product. Although, Lycoris, Red Hat, Mandrake, Suse, Knoppix, Slackware and Lindows make up some of the different versions of LINUX. These companies release their own versions of the operating systems with minor changes, and yet always with the same bottom line. The simple fact that not one of these companies are close to competing with Windows, for the most part causes the difference in market share.

It sometimes seems everyone on the planet is using Windows. Many say Windows is way better than LINUX because of the simple handling of the software or hardware. There are huge differences between the number of users of LINUX and Windows. Many say LINUX is far better because it started as an Open Source software and thus is more flexible than Windows. Then what accounts for the enormous difference in market share between these two operating systems?

Windows and Linux are different in many ways.

1. Windows GUI is an integral component of the OS; speed, efficiency and reliability, while the Linux GUI is optional, are increased by running a server instance of Linux without a GUI, something that server versions of Windows simply can’t do. The nature of the Linux GUI makes remote administration of a Linux computer easier with a more natural feel than Windows computers.

2. The command prompts of the operating systems are very different. The command interpreters in the Windows 9x series are very similar to each other and the NT class versions of Windows also have similar command interpreters. There are, however differences between a Windows 9x command interpreter and one in an NT class flavor of Windows. Linux, like UNIX, also supports multiple command interpreters, but it usually uses BASH or “Bourne Again Shell”.

3. While you have to pay hundred’s of dollars for a new Windows version, you can just go download Linux. There’s no manuals or simple installers for the free version. Although there is quite a learning curve when utilizing the free package. There are some easy automated packages of Linux for low prices.

Microsoft’s “big con” is the supposed security issues with windows. Most spyware, adware and malicious files programs work with Windows just fine. In general you do not deal with these kinds of circumstances unless you are working with Windows. whereas Linux offers a strong protection, password protection for Windows can be bypassed with ease.

The software availability is the key to why Windows wins over Linux in this competition. Most software releases are already configured for Windows. If you chose to use Linux you must copy Windows with special software in order to use your windows based programs. You could always install Windows as a subsystem to Linux, this would take the administrative capabilities of Windows and allow them to function on Linux.

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Running Email With Email Server Software

Did you know that there is a distinct difference between a Linux email server, a Merak mail server and a Kerio mail server? There sure is and most people, unless they are in the computer industry, do not know the difference.

mail server software
Most people never need the information, but in reality it is better to know what is going on with your email server exchange then to be stuck in a situation where you need to know something about pop3 mail server. You should know that there are three pretty popular servers that most businesses use. These servers are: Linux email server, Merak mail server and a Kerio mail server.

The Linux email server is a pretty popular choice for email server software for two big reasons. The first is that you do not have to register the software. The second is that you do not have to purchase the software. But of course there is a down side to using Linux. It can be complicated due to it’s programming language. It is definitely not internet mail server software for beginners.

pop3 mail server
The Merak mail server is a server that is used widely in Local Area Networks, such as those used in businesses. It can be used with both the Microsoft and Linux operating systems. There are different levels of services that Merak offers and they vary, such as how many users can be utilizing the software program at one time. If you use this program, then go with version PP since it also includes the use of an email address list that everyone in the office can use to send emails.

Last on the list is Kerio mail server. This is the full service, one-stop shopping solution for email servers. It is used for corporate businesses and comes equipped with anti-spam, anti-virus and a host of other protective measures to keep your email server working in top shape. The bonus for using Kerio is that it works with Smartphones, as well as wireless, to communicate calendars and important emails while you are away from your desk.

smtp email server
Email server software is available and is offered with a wide range of services. How many people will be using the software and the server? You will also need to factor in cost, upkeep and the type of service you expect to get. If it is for a small business or personal use, then you may not want to invest so much money into a system.