Free Software / Open Source links

Free Software / Open Source links

The following are Links for further reading on Free Software (Also known as "Open Source" software), the model of computing that I use in personal computing and in my business.

I previously maintained them as a static page, but have decided to include them as an article in the Intellectual Economics Features section of the weblog.

If you have any comments or additions, please send me Email or contribute to the Comnet-www or discussion groups.

From the desk of Russell McOrmond

Most of the recent articles have been written directly to


  • The Last Dinosaur and the Tarpits of Doom: How Linux Smashed Windows (Jan 10, 1999 - updated Sept 5, 2000)

    Using the historical perspective of the Workstation market moving from proprietary vendors to open standards, this discusses the movement of the Microcomputer desktop environment in the same direction.

  • The coming "open monopoly" in software (October 24, 2001)

    Discussing the concept of "natural monopolies", and coming to the conclusion that open standards must become that natural monopoly.

  • Rule Maker Portfolio: Microsoft vs. Linux

    This piece by a financial educator may not fit into philosophy, but is closely tied to the article above, but from an investor rather than a technological point of view. There was an earlier related article on Network Effects.

  • Speech: History and Philosophy of the GNU Project

    This speech was given at the CLOWN (Cluster of Working Nodes), a 512-node Cluster project of Debian GNU/Linux machines in the University of Paderborn, Germany. (5. December 1998). A very recommended first-read for those just learning about Free Software.

  • Why ``Free Software'' is better than ``Open Source''

    Language is very important, and while the phrase "open source" may be more palatable to a business community no longer familiar with discussing freedom, the phrase is just as confusing as the phrase "free software". Reading both positions on this might give people a better idea of the meaning we are striving for.

  • Preserving the Information Ecosystem (By Stephen Adler)

    Puts the Open Source phenomena into a larger historical and forward looking context. (Found on Linux Today)

  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar

    This article by by Eric S. Raymond was reportedly the article which convinced Netscape to move to the Open Source model for their browser. It clearly discusses some of the advantages to the Open Source model for producing software solutions.

  • Reality 2.0

    Culture Hacks by Doc Searls: Talks about some of the business/cultural changes that Linux may bring. While I don't agree with some of what he says (My focus on the Freedom of Free Software, rather than the low-cost and 'technical coolness' of Open Source: Proprietary information just isn't useful to me), articles such as Hacking an Industry (From LinuxJournal) answer some of the basic questions new (or non) Free Software users might have.

  • Open-Source Medical Information Management

    The section entitled "The Moral Basis of Free Software/Open Source" is quite interesting and makes the economic and social connections to Free Software. It in part makes some interesting comparisons between the medical and software professions. (P.S. No mention of the quite different Pharmaceutical industry ;-)


Note: I am including information about WindowsNT here as I agree with John Kirch, Networking Consultant and Microsoft Certified Professional (Windows NT), when he says, "Why Windows NT Server 4.0 continues to exist in the enterprise would be a topic appropriate for an investigative report in the field of psychology or marketing, not an article on information technology."

Linux Operating System

Linux, while not being the only OpenSource operating system, has recently become the flagship of the movement. Beyond Linux we will see the opening up of operating system innovations as the computing industry has not seen for years due to "Secrets" O.S. vendors have been keeping from you.
  • Ottawa Canada Linux Users Group

    Gives a "made in Ottawa" feel to the Linux community. The site includes pointers to local Ottawa Retailers, Consultants, events and enthusiasts.

  • Linux Online

    A good start for information on Linux.

  • Linux.COM

    A more business oriented place to start.

  • Linux Journal

    This magazine, aimed at both the new user and the more advanced, is available in many magazine stores around Ottawa.

  • XandrOS

    XandrOS purchased what was previously Corel Linux from Corel Corporation

  • News about Linux

    This page is maintained by RedHat software, and includes many links to news sources that discuss Linux and other related technology.

  • PC Quest

    Magazine based out of India has contained many articles on Linux over the years. It has had Special Issues focused on Linux. These issues, which include Linux on CD, have been critical to the the adoption of Linux in India. I do my own part by hosting the mailing list and website for the Indian Linux Users Group of Calcutta.

  • LINUX is obsolete

    Not to be confused as a Linux religious fanatic, I wanted to include this article. I am a supporter of Free Software and while Linux is currently the best of the breed and the flagship of the Open Source Software movement, I look forward to upgrading to systems such as GNU HURD which uses the Mach microkernel in it's design. Where I disagree with Tanenbaum is that Linux was necessary to capture the new audience for Free Software systems back in 1991 that are now going to innovate toward future computing at rates the proprietary model cannot achieve.

Other Open Source/Free Software

  • Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS)? Look at the Numbers!

    This paper provides quantitative data that, in many cases, open source software / free software is equal to or superior to their proprietary competition. The paper examines market share, reliability, performance, scalability, security, and total cost of ownership; it also gives commentary on non-quantitative issues and unnecessary fears. Author David A. Wheeler keeps a Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS) References page.

  • Free Software Sites on the Internet

    This is a collection of freely distributable software links.

  • AbiWord

    Small multi-platform word processor, with sufficient features for most word processing usage!


    This is the full featured office suite that is also the basis of the Sun StarOffice suite.


    This is the full featured Open Source browser that is also the basis of the AOL/Netscape browser.

  • Apache

    Apache has been the most popular web server on the Internet since April of 1996. As with other Free Software, support is available, including from myself.

  • Samba

    Samba is a suite of programs which work together to allow clients to access to a server's file space and printers via the SMB (Server Message Block) protocol. This software is used to offer the services of both Server and Peer-to-Peer (Workgroup) LAN services compatible with Microsoft Windows (Windows for Workgroups, Win95/98, Windows NT), OS/2, Linux and others. Support is available.

  • The K Desktop Environment

    "KDE provides a complete desktop environment, including a file manager, a window manager, a help system, a configuration system, uncountable tools and utilities. and an ever increasing number of applications, including but not limited to mail and news clients, drawing programs, a postscript and a dvi viewer and so forth.".

  • GNU Network Object Model Environment

    "The GNOME project intends to build a complete, user-friendly desktop based entirely on free software.".

  • The Linux FreeS/WAN Project

    A Free implementation of the Secure Wide Area Network. This is part of the fight for privacy and freedom of expression on the Internet.

Abuses of Patents/Copyright/Trademarks

Patents/Copyright/Trademark, "Intellectual Property" and the Law

  • Recent Papers and Articles by Professor James Boyle

    Please read the article: Cruel, Mean or Lavish?: Economic Analysis, Price Discrimination and Digital Intellectual Property 536 Vanderbilt Law Review 2007 (2000)

  • Free / Open Source Research Community

    Please read the article: by Philippe Aigrain, "Positive Intellectual Rights and Information Exchanges"

  • RWM: It really is about Copyright Law. (LinuxToday Story)

    Microsoft is trying to turn the Anti-Trust lawsuit it is loosing into a matter of copyright. I agree with them - the common abuse of copyright law is at the core of this issue. This article was also posted to comnet-www.

  • RWM: "Intellectual Property" does not exist!

    This is an article I posted myself describing why I believe "Intellectual Property" does not exist.

  • The US Patent System Is Out of Control! (Humourous reference to entertaining cat being patent infringement)

    Phil Karn, when asked his view of the patent system, I responded, "I find it totally loathesome, and it has totally drained the joy out of engineering for me". If patents are there to encourage innovation, everyone should ask why the real innovators are opposed to their current state.

  • Defining The World's Public Property - Who owns knowledge?

    "Most innovations and inventions are based on ideas that form part of the common property of humanity. It cannot therefore be right to restrict access to the information and knowledge that make up this common property by making the law too keen to safeguard individual interests...."

  • The Coming Software Patent Crisis: Can Linux Survive?

    This puts Software Patents, and I believe the entire patent system into questions. As with everything there are examples when it does good, but when do we realize that the abusers outweigh the legitimate uses by several orders of magnitude?

  • A primer on the ethics of "intellectual property"

    Discusses some of the philosophical aspects of "Intellectual Property", including not only Software but Music.

  • Is "Intellectual Property" Legitimate?

    This posting to the FLORA.comnet-www discussion group is reprinted with permission from the PBA Intellectual Property Law Newsletter, p. 3 (Vol. 1, No. 2, Winter 1998).

  • Berkman Center's Openlaw site

    "Openlaw is an experiment in crafting legal argument in an open forum. With your assistance, we will develop arguments, draft pleadings, and edit briefs in public, online."

  • League for Programming Freedom - Software Patents

    Many articles about Software Patents

  • The Libertarian Case Against Intellectual Property Rights

    While I disagree with many Libertarians about the nature of "the state" in a world of neo-Classical economic globalization (EG: Transnational Corporate Rule, etc), I do agree with much of what Roderick T. Long had to say about Intellectual Property in this article.


    The letter that really puts Microsoft and Bill Gates political lobbying for "Intellectual Property" into perspective. It is one of the first places that suggested that sharing information among computer hobbyist was somehow similar to "stealing", and that imposing limits on this sharing was the only (in his limited mind) way to make money writing software. (Letter also archived at: Xiaoguang Zhang's, Ashley Dunn's homepages.)

  • B. Gates Rants About Software Copyrights - in 1980

    Continuing his successful political career, Gates lobbies for the strengthening of abusive and now routinely abused copyright laws and anti-competitive IT business practices.

    Linked to this article was a analisis of a BBC Interview With Bill Gates where the author indicates " I don't think he comes across as the sort of person who's massively concerned about power.". Interesting, but I totally disagree: Bill Gates believes he is "right" and is willing to step on and/or dismiss anything or anyone in his way. What can this type of action possibly be about, except power? Dictators may have good intentions or bad, but they are still dictators.

General Computing Issues

  • Electronic Frontier Foundation

    The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a non-profit organization working in the public interest to protect privacy, free expression, and democracy online.

  • Electronic Frontier Canada

    Electronic Frontier Canada (EFC) was founded to ensure that the principles embodied in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms remain protected as new computing, communications, and information technologies are introduced into Canadian society.

  • Best Viewed With Any Browser Campaign for a Non-Browser Specific WWW

    The intent of HTML and the Internet was to allow for information to be exchanged in a standard way as to not run into the problems that existed previously with proprietary Word-Processor and other formats. This campaign draws attention to some of the issues in ensuring that this is the case! This is also related to general accessibility issues, where the Bobby site provides a considerable amount of information.

  • The Web Standards Project
  • "The WEB STANDARDS PROJECT is a coalition of web developers and users. Our mission is to stop the fragmentation of the web, by persuading browser makers that standards are in everyone's best interest."


Whether it is laughing at the silliness of the world of just laughing at ourselves, we all need a bit of humour and downtime!