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FOSS4G2006 - Free And Open Source Software for Geoinformatics
FOSS4G2006 - Free And Open Source Software for Geoinformatics
11-15 September 2006 Lausanne, Switzerland
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Early GRASS Community Views on FOSS
How do the early GRASS developers feel about the decisions that
resulted in the GRASS FOSS efforts of today?
The GRASS development community of the early 1980's created what was
called public domain software based on the model of the Unix operating
system. Unix was developed by the United States government telephone
company for its own internal needs, but was not allowed, by law, to
market the operating system. Unix was designed as a powerful
open-ended environment and the telephone company decided to share the
software with universities, which adopted and expanded Unix - to the
benefit of the growing Unix user community. GRASS was originally
developed at the small Construction Engineering Research Laboratory to
support landscape and environmental planners at military
installations. The effort was not centrally funded, nor was much
funding available - resulting in an inability to purchase the best
available GIS software of the day, and an inability to completely
develop the desired capabilities in-house. We elected to develop a
library of software subroutines (an API) and encourage others to use
their funding to develop capabilities within GRASS. A software
development "steering-committee" was formed and participants helped
ensure that development efforts across laboratories, universities, and
commercial groups in the United States were complementary. Eventually
GRASS development was benefiting from many contributors within the
community. The GRASS source code was posted on the Internet to
complete the establishment of GRASS as Free and Open Source Software.
Was it appropriate to release GRASS into the public domain? Should
GRASS have been transitioned into a commercial product? Would it have
been successful? Why didn't any of the early developers attempt to
commercialize GRASS? These questions were posed to a cross-section of
the early GRASS developers that includes programmers, collaborators,
and managers. In this talk these people and their role in GRASS will
be introduced, followed by their views on these questions.
Id: 214
Place: Lausanne, Switzerland
Room: Amphimax (MAX 350)
Starting date:
15-Sep-2006   13:00
Duration: 40'
Primary Authors: Dr. WESTERVELT, James (Engineer Research and Development Center)
Material: slide Slides
Included in session: Conference Closing Plenary

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