December 21, 2000, 2:42 PM — America Online Inc. (AOL) has become the latest company to open up an important piece of its software for open-source development.
AOL last week provided public access on the World Wide Web to the source code for its AOLserver 3.0, one of the servers that runs its Web site.
Open-source software, whose source code is made available for modification and public distribution, is being adopted by a growing number of companies, said Roy Fielding, chairman of the Apache Software Foundation, an open-source Web server project.
"The open source allows the AOLserver to be improved and maintained by the people using it in a wide variety of ways," Fielding said today. It will let the server software be debugged more quickly and customized with input from outside developers, he said.
Although the AOLserver had been available for free, the source code which allows for it to be customized had been restricted, Fielding said.
AOL didn't return repeated requests for information about the project over several days.
The Linux operating system and the Apache Web server are among the more widely used open-source software, grabbing the attention of established corporations over the past few years. Major vendors such as IBM, Intel Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. are porting their applications to run on open-source software. Other companies, including Red Hat Software Inc. and SuSe Holding AG, package, distribute and support different versions of the Linux operating system.
Meanwhile, AOL's subsidiary Netscape Communications Corp. has experienced delays in developing Mozilla, the open-source project for its Web browser. However, Netscape officials said the browser should be available in beta form later this year.