OSU’s Open Source Lab is becoming a focal point for Open Source software development at the university and beyond.
With his enthusiasm about the potential of open source software, Scott Kveton relishes the challenge of helping OSU become a critical worldwide center for open source development.
Kveton, program director for OSU’s Open Source Lab, says the university got into open source because it was a great way to solve computing problems inexpensively.
“Open source software is free and open, so we are able to use and modify whatever is out there,” he says. “Because we are a large university with a lot of specialized needs, open source meets our needs in many cases better than shrink-wrap software.”
The basic idea behind open source is that any programmer can freely read, redistribute, modify, and improve the source code for a piece of software, making it evolve much more rapidly than conventional software.
“Open source fits in well with the university mentality of open research,” Kveton says. “We say, ‘Here are our results, take a look at them, test them, and make them better if you want.’”
Some of the better-known open source projects are the Linux operating system and the Mozilla web browser, and OSU has become an open source player by hosting some of the major projects.
Over half of OSU’s infrastructure is operating on open source tools, Kveton says, and open source is being used in a number of areas, including e-mail, web servers, and domain name space management.
One of the biggest areas of growth for open source software use may well be on the computer desktop. “Open source solutions can provide a fantastic alternative to Windows, something that is more secure and more resistant to viruses and can be tweaked to meet our needs,” he says.