Open Source

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In an article published in Coin Center, research director Peter Van Valkenburgh describes that open source software is collaboratively produced, shared freely, published transparently, and developed to be a community good rather than the property or business of a single company or person. Peter reminds that when a project is developed open source there isn’t a single chokepoint in the development process, no company or individual that makes, owns, and sells the software. Just as there is no single company that powers the Bitcoin network, neither is there one company that makes the software that, when run on internet connected computers, creates that network. This decentralization in technology production has several profound benefits and can be difficult to grasp for those not familiar with software development.[1]

Definition of Open Source

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner.[2]

Why is Open Source Important

Blockchains are designed as a trustless system. If the code that runs the blockchain is not Open Source then it requires those utilizing the blockchain to trust that the code is doing what it is described to do. To avoid the problem of trust, blockchains are encouraged to be Open Source. This allows those utilizing the blockchain to know exactly how the blockchain functions without the need for trust, and hence it is a 'trustless' system.

Open Source, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

Peter Van Valkenburgh, in his Coin Center published article continues: Linux is probably the largest and most important example of the open source model, but several others exist. Among them are all of the major cryptocurrencies and open blockchain projects. In his October 2017 article he pointed that the Bitcoin Core reference client was the product of over 15,000 unique code contributions from over 450 unaffiliated individual developers. The software is available for free use and modification under the permissive MIT copyright license, and the full history of that development is visible within a public software repository hosted by Github, a cloud-services provider that allows anyone to sign-up for an account, upload new code, and track changes.[1]

The Coin Center research director also mentioned that the Ethereum project was currently made up of at least 121 separate software repositories each focusing on different aspects of the project (e.g. programming languages for writing smart contracts, end-user graphical browsers for interacting with the Ethereum network, and compatible clients for participating in the network). There were no fewer than eight software projects to develop Ethereum compatible clients and the more popular clients (go-ethereum and Parity) have hundreds of independent developers contributing to the code. The Ethereum project’s code (and the complete history of that code) is, like Bitcoin’s, publicly available within Github and other online repositories, and all code is released under the LGPL-3, a viral copyleft license that requires all future derivative works to be released under the same non-proprietary licensing.[1]

Steem, Condenser and Utopian

After launched Steem's license included the paragraph: "Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met: (...) The software is not used with any forks of the Steem blockchain that are not recognized by Steemit, Inc in writing."[3] To change that the steemian @demotruk proposed in March 15, 2017, a Petition to Demand Steem be made fully Open Source.[4]

Dan Larimer, one of the creators of Steem published the post - Making Steem really open source (deleted - see comments) - in the same day of his resignation as Steemit, Inc Chief Technology Officer in March 15, 2017.[5] In his post Dan mentioned the Against Intellectual Monopoly study pulished in 2007 by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine which statement says: “In fact intellectual property is not like ordinary property at all, but constitutes a government grant of a costly and dangerous private monopoly over ideas. We show through theory and example that intellectual monopoly is not necessary for innovation and as a practical matter is damaging to growth, prosperity and liberty”.[6] Few months later, in May 19, other steemian Aggroed published an amazed post celebrating that Steemit, Inc adopted the MIT copyright license like Bitcoin.[7]

The Steemit interface, called Condenser, also became an Open Source project. Technically speaking it is the react.js web interface to the world's first blockchain-based social media platform, It uses Steem, a Blockchain powered by Graphene 2.0 technology to store JSON-based content for a plethora of web applications.[8]

One of the most successfull projects of the Steem Ecosystem - Utopian - was launched by Diego Pucci (@elear) and launched on September 26th, 2017 and uses the Steem blockchain to reward Open Source contributors.[9]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 What is “open source” and why is it important for cryptocurrency and open blockchain projects? Written by Peter Van Valkenburgh on Coin Center and published in October 17, 2017
  2. Open-source software Article on Wikipedia, retrieved in February 20, 2018
  3. Steem's license Written by @hagbardceline on Steemit in April 9, 2017
  4. Petition to Demand Steem be made fully Open Source Written by @demotruk on Steemit in March 15, 2017
  5. Making Steem really open source Written by Dan Larimer (@dantheman) on Steemit (deleted - see comments) in March 15, 2017
  6. Against Intellectual Monopoly Written by Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine on UCLA Economic and Game Theory website, published in January 22, 2007
  7. Staas- Steemit as a Service Written by Aggroed (@aggroed) on Steemit in May 19, 2017
  8. Steemit - updated - open source ! Written by @rdef on Steemit in October 27, 2017
  9. Utopian: My Contribution to the Open Source World. Written by Diego Pucci (@elear) on Steemit in September 26, 2017


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