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Open Source

Alan Bradley: Given the prices that we charge to students and schools, what sort of improvements have been made in Flynn... I mean, ENCOM OS-12?

ENCOM chairmany: This year we put a "12" on the box.

At its heart, Disney’s TRON and TRON Legacy are about the battle between open source (Flynn OS) and closed source (ENCOM). Despite living in this technology dependent age, most people don’t understand how important that message is.

What software you use and support does actually impact more than just your wallet. The technological advancements in our smartphones, medical research, and Disney attractions can only thrive when open source thrives. When closed source thrives, it hinders such advancements.

The villains of the TRON films are the CEO of ENCOM, Ed Dillinger, and his digital counterpart Sark. Dillinger, like his real life equivalents Microsoft and Apple, believe technology should only exist for financial gain. To achieve this they close their software to the world.

The heros are programmers Kevin Flynn and Alan Bradley, and Alan’s digital counterpart TRON. They believe that, like knowledge, software and code should be available to everyone, made open so the entire world can benefit from it and improve upon it.

 

Open vs Closed Source

 

Freedom

Open source software gives you full control. With closed source software, even if you paid hundreds of dollars for it, you never actually own it. You are not free to alter it and can only use it in accordance to the actual owner’s guidelines. It’s like paying for a brand new car to have the limitations of a rental car.

 

Price

While most closed source software have unjustified high prices, most open source software is 100% FREE. Should you really be charged so much more just so a CEO can buy extra vacation homes?

 

Quality

Closed programs are developed and maintained by a single company. Open source software such as Linux is developed and maintained by more than 15,000 programmers around the world. These programmers might work for companies that compete with each other, or they might be volunteers looking to help improve the software that affects their daily lives.

Google chose to make Android, which powers 86% of smartphones in the world, open source and Linux based. Because of this anyone can view the code, modify it, or share it. This openness enables collaboration which benefits everyone.

 

Security & Stability

People looking to do harm don’t care if software is considered closed or open. However, people looking to do good are not allowed to help when it comes to closed software. With open software you have more people inspecting and improving the code so you get security patches in place much faster.

 

Better User Experience

Software made for the users by the users are typically going to be a better experience for the users.



Longevity

If a company goes out of business, or simply cancels a project, their software can become obsolete. Not to mention when Apple intentionally degrades their products to force you into buying their newer products. When software is open source, it can live on long after the original developer called it quits.

What you can do

There are commonly open source versions of any program you use. When you are looking for a new program, take a moment to do a Google search for these open source alternatives. And while most open source is free, there is often a donate page where a few bucks and make a big difference.

If you really want to take part in the pro-technology side of things, and save a lot of money in the process, try a Linux based operating system instead of Windows or Mac OS. If you are 100% computer illiterate, or have to use anything by Adobe, Linux may not be for your. Otherwise, I suggest giving Ubuntu OS a try.

There are many Linux based operating systems out there but Ubuntu is commonly labeled as the ideal choice for most of the general public. Not to mention their Ubuntu Pathways charity program is helping to break the cycle of poverty in South Africa.

You can download Ubuntu here. It’s 100% free and you can run it alongside Windows or Mac OS if you just want to try it out.