It was a pleasure to read the excellent article drawing parallels between Mirza Ghalib’s legendary work and the mammoth achievements of the Free and Open Source Software community (Feb. 2). Computing is not just about driving a chip using a few lines of code. Unless a programmer understands the part he or she plays in the continuous and ever evolving drive for academic excellence, society cannot expect him or her to deliver a new and sophisticated tool to help humanity attain new heights. A FOSS programmer has a great sense of responsibility because of the overwhelming number of socially responsible computing geniuses involved in the community. Rahul De’ has rightly pointed out the peer review mechanism followed in the FOSS community, which results in programmers striving for logically correct and efficient programs.
The same environment needs to be created among computing students in India. It is crucial to include more of FOSS into our computing curriculum and urge students to imbibe the values of the community.
Madeni Kumar Neog, Bangalore
The author wonders why thousands of software programmers write high quality software for free. The reasons are: the satisfaction of contributing something that will be useful to others in future; the ‘feel good’ factor when they receive appreciation from their peers and seniors programmers; and the sense of being part of a change for good. FOSS programmers are held in high esteem because of their skills, and the manner in which society treats them. Freedom and praise are more valuable than money — something to which history testifies.
Mayank Hasija, Nodia