Open Source Comes to Campus/Curriculum/Saturday/Ethics and history

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(General note: At Penn, the way we structured this was as a conversation between two of the teachers, as a full group.)

Structure: All students are in one room. Asheesh lectures initially; then teachers self-describe; then Q&A.

Asheesh's lecture outline:

  • Skype:
    • TOM variant
    • anti-debugger
  • 1980s and creation of free software notion
    • Richard M. Stallman at MIT was thinking about these issues in the 1980s. Early history of free software:
    • It starts with a printer
    • This clarifies his understanding of computing freedom
    • He realizes the computing tools he's been using, and that a generation of programmers have been raised on, do not come with essential freedoms.
    • Four freedoms, and GNU.
  • Copyright, and copyleft
    • All rights reserved, by default
    • Copyleft is
  • 1990s
    • 1991: First release of Linux: "just a hobby, won't be big and professional like gnu"
    • 1995: "Apache is a public collaborative effort, where the users determine what happens next."
    • Early on, users of software frequently thought of themselves as system administrators.


  • Lecture:
    • Importance of software transparency (example: Skype)
    • Importance of customizability (example: Dance Dance Immolation)
    • History of "free software" movement...
    • ...simultaneous to Linux pioneering a world of actual collaboration
    • History of the "open source" fracture, and how it dominates
    • Explanation of a few different business models around open source, and how the finances work out (individual consulting; huge support organizations like Red Hat; hosting a service like WordPress.com; Debian, where the "center" has no business model)
  • Teachers re-introduce themselves briefly, and explain in 4 minutes or fewer how they initially got involved in contributing (in any way: documentation, code, design, etc.) to an open source project; what their motivations are; and how they are paid (if at all) for open source work.
    • To avoid a catastrophe of slow talking, we might require slides from teachers for this.
  • Student Q&A.

Assessment: None.