Open Source Comes to Campus/Curriculum/History and Ethics of Free Software/Interactive

From OpenHatch wiki

Below are notes. I'm working on building this activity here- once it's done, I'll update the notes below.

Format of Activity

Students will be presented with a brief summary including links to further sources. They will be asked to read at least the summary (if not the linked sources) and to do the following:

  • Write a (briefer) summary and add it to a group timeline that is part of a shared repository.
  • Put issues that the story raises into the issue tracker.
    • If that issue already exists, they should add to the issue instead of making a new one.
    • Issues should be tagged with relevant terms such as the different freedoms, DRM, etc. (Make a more complete list.)
  • (Potential/optional):
    • read through the other summaries as they are put up and vote somehow whether they support the actions of the free software advocate involved
    • do further research and add primary sources to the repository/wiki

Incidents to Investigate

Areas to investigate more:

  • older stuff - how did software become un-free? military roots
  • piracy - how does it relate?


  • Stallman and the printer
  • Skype: 2006, discovered to resist analysis [1]; 2008, discovered to (in China) have censorship and surveillance on certain keywords [2] including insecure survillance database [3]; 2013: such censorship + surveillance continues to this day [4]
  • Linus Torvalds?
  • Blake Ross and Mozilla/Firefox?
  • DeCSS: (1998) How Big Media made open source DVD players illegal
  • Adobe eBook DRM, 2001: Why a programmer found himself in jail for showing how enable "Read this book aloud" on a no-cost, legally-acquired copy of Alice in Wonderland
  • 2002-2007: Why KDE created a totally new web browser, and how its rendering engine (KHTML) became WebKit in Safari, and became the core of the Chrome web browser, and outcompeted Opera's own HTML renderer
  • 1997-2009: How one math grad student's experiences with Mathematica led him to create some of the world's most used (within academia) computer math software as proprietary software, only to wake up around 2006, realize he had swindled a generation of math researchers of their freedom, and flip out and build Sage Math, accruing a team and building best-of-class software for abstract math researchers <>
  • 2004: Why the web's most self-aggrandizing development firm released Ruby on Rails, and how open source and partial code sharing have changed the flavor of web programming
  • 1994 on: How a programming language (PHP) emerged from one hacker's scripts to literally maintain his personal home page
  • 2001: How and why Sun released their newly-acquired office suite, formerly known as StarOffice, as free software (now known as OpenOffice and LibreOffice)
  • 1995-1998: How Microsoft incorporated NCSA Mosaic code into a new Internet Explorer, gave it away, and obliterated Netscape's web browser market (for good or for bad, not intending to pass a value judgement here).
  • 2005: How the open source code of LiveJournal helped some users leave the website's changing culture, but keep the user experience they were used to by forking the source into Dreamwidth, in which a community of bloggers learned and taught each other Perl, to make one of the most gender-diverse programming communities in open source. (Maybe also A03?)
  • 2001: How the first relase of Mac OS X for the desktop market was made possible by embedding and extending open source software, with care to choose non-GPL code, preventing users of Mac OS X from having the same freedoms Apple had to build and modify the software.
  • BSD/AT&T?