FOSS- Free and Open Source Software

Ok guys, time for the weekly update to my blog. This week’s topic for my assignment is Free and Open Source Software or FOSS for short. Now if you’re reading this you might think, “Tcf32, what the heck is that?” Well let me give you a couple of examples that might ring a bell; Linux, Android, and Gimp. Linux is an operating system that you may or may not have encountered in your times on a computer and obviously Android is the mobile OS that rivals Apple’s iOS and finally Gimp is a FOSS alternative to image editing software such as Photoshop.

So FOSS is just free software then right? Not really, it actually goes deeper than that. FOSS refers to the licensing surrounding the software in how it is developed and how it is distributed. Some software is free and allows for anyone to change the software to make it fit for their needs, for example, look at how much development is going on in the Android community. Google releases their code for developers to take, mold and modify in their own vision. The idea of this is to produce software that people can use for their benefits and continue to develop software that can help other developers.

For this assignment, our professor had us look at the FOSS repository, Source Forge. This is a place where developers can collaborate, store code and allow access to their current projects. The assignment called for us to look at two particular FOSS projects: VuFind and Mifos. Now even those are pretty big seeming projects, they aren’t even the tip of the iceberg of projects on repositories such as Source Forge.

I’ll start off with the Vufind project. Vufind is a project that is being managed by a team of developers working at the Villanova library. The project states on its page that it is “For libraries by libraries”. The goal of the Vufind is to create is to create an application that will replace the Online Public Access Catalogue. The purpose of replacing the OPAC is to give users more features to browse online databases that are currently not available. After looking through their site, I found that there are about 13 people working on this project and they are broken down in to different teams. If interested in contributing as a developer, they offer you a chance to sign up and register via the bug tracker and also they have an IRC channel that is open to anyone. Vufind locks down the modification of their project with GNU and copy left restrictions. This means that users are not allowed to modify the project and release it under a different license.

Next up is Mifos; a piece of financial software for micrtransactions built on Java. The project is geared for microfinance institutions, tech professionals, business people, volunteers and contributors. This project has a goal of making microtransactions easier and more manageable for things such as small one-off loans to people without credit and other situations where normal loans just aren’t feasible. Their philosophy in making Mifos FOSS goes right along with the goal of their project; to help people who can’t afford help. Looking into their team, I found that they are comprised of 39 contributors broken down into teams. They also have a bug queue and bug tracker available so that you can register to help contribute and to track their developments. This software is available right from their website, offered under Apache License 2.0 with no copy left restrictions.

Both of these projects are available for download directly from their websites listed below:

http://mifos.org/

http://vufind.org/index.php

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