The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

The student news site of Diablo Valley College.

The Inquirer

Opinion: Open source software reflects Generation Y values


Why shell out $399 for the latest version of Microsoft Office when you can download software that lets you use it for free?

This free application, called OpenOffice, is particularly relevant, since older versions of Office are unable to read documents saved in Microsoft’s new DOCX format.

So, unless you know about open source projects, you’re stuck with the high price tag.

When Microsoft develops an application, like Microsoft Word, the programmers write a “source code,” which they then compile into a working application.

You will never see Word’s source code. It’s one of the best-kept corporate secrets in the world.

But a small group of dedicated software coders believe that there should be free alternatives out there.

And they create applications, even whole operating systems and give up their source codes to the public to modify, improve and share.

Applications and operating systems using this model are called “open source” projects.   

This isn’t just some little free-ware utility that you use only once, either. It is technology you will use on a daily basis.

Most websites are hosted on servers that use the Linux operating system, a piece of software provided for free to anyone who cares to download it.

An example is Firefox’s website, the most downloaded browser in the world. It too is an open source project.

“Did you think you had to be a developer to make a difference in the Mozilla Project?,” Firefox says on its website. “Think again.”

Users shape the future of the software, not the investors.

Open source developers spend endless hours in front of their computers, de-bugging and writing thousands of lines of code, knowing they will never be paid for any of it. They survive solely on donations, often using their own money to pay for the needed hardware and software.

Imagine if we took that aspect and applied it to charity, instead of software.

Imagine the things we could accomplish.

These open source developers work hard.

So next time you download that copy of OpenOffice or Firefox, click on that little “donate” button give a buck or two from your paypal account.

It may not be that much to you, but to them it’s a sign you loved their work.

For more on open source, check out

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Opinion: Open source software reflects Generation Y values