[DOSC - Dartmouth Open Source Community]
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Quickly, what is Open Source Software?

The term open-source is often misunderstood. For one thing, many people confuse it with software that's free.

While free software is just like it sounds, open source software is more than free, it's software where you can see the source-code. That means that you can dismantle and rebuild and do whatever you want with the software, personalize it, check for security holes, and, of course, make it better. Microsoft's Outlook Express is free, but it is in no way open-source.

Another point that confuses some people is how you can run open-source software (OSS). While most people associate OSS to Linux or some of the other less familliar operating systems, there is a good deal of software for both Macintosh and Windows that is open source. In fact, OSX is based to a large extent on open source software.

Check out the TWiki for more information on OSS and, to put it all in perspective, the server that runs the website you're looking at, from its ability to send mail to its web functions to the databases it runs are all OSS.

The Dartmouth Open Source Community
What we are, and what we're all about:

We are students, faculty, Dartmouth Employees, and local community members who are interested in open-source software. Primarily interested in Linux, our group has evolved from a simple user group to an active voice on campus and in the community for open-source, open-standards, and fair business practice in the software-world.

We (used to) meet every Friday at 4:00 at Collis (on the corner of Wheelock and S. Main Street in Hanover), where we discuss our OSS projects, brainstorm new ideas, and think about how we can get the word out.

Our current strategy to encourage the use of OSS within the Dartmouth Community has three parts:

1. Education
Why would anyone pay $579 for Microsoft Office when they could get the same programs with the same features on their Mac, Windows, or Linux box for free with Open Office? They don't know about it. What's the difference, in terms of output, between a development plan that includes a few hundred engineers working in independent groups or a community of thousands all building upon each other's ideas? It's huge. Using our TWiki, install-fests, and public demonstrations, we hope even a few people will come away with the truth.

2. Integration
With our Linux Mirror (coming online in May), we can make it easy and bandwidth-friendly for Dartmouth students to use Debian, Redhat, and YellowDog Linux. But what about those special things like Blitzmail, GreenPrint, and Kerberos? Using our pre-configured setups, even the most green user will be ready for anything. And, with our CVS-based open-development model, we're ready, along with anyone who might want to help, to improve Darttmouth-specific software and taylor other OSS software to our needs.

3. Support
As our active mailing-list demonstrates, it's pretty nice to have a lot of people who've been down the same road as you when you run into a bump with OSS at Dartmouth. Of course, some people don't have the time to go through our mail archives. That's why we've worked so hard to put our TWiki::DOSC together, a collection of information on how to make things work that, just like OSS, is open to everyone, and constantly improving. Of course, the really big news will be online in two weeks. Sorry Tony and you guys at the Help Desk, we're keeping this to ourselves for a little bit.

If you're interested in getting started with Linux and want some help, or if you want to get involved, please check out our TWiki, contact us, or come on up to Collis some Friday at four (not current info).

Some Links
Linux Distros

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