Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Open Source 10 Years Later

April 7 2008 marks 10 years since the landmark Freeware Summit that signaled the opening of the Open Source movement. By coincidence I recently read the manifesto of the Open Source movement, "The Cathedral and The Bazaar" by Eric S Raymond. The book, published in 1999 and revised in 2001, contains the namesake essay several others including "Revenge of the Hackers" which describes the events leading up to and following the Freeware Summit from an insiders point of view. The essay is valuable as a history of Open Source however its veracity is slightly marred because it dates summit meeting as happening on March 7.

One thing that the Revenge of the Hackers does not shy away from is explaining why Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation was not present at the Freeware Summit. In the past I have written on the distinction between Open Source and Free Software. Raymond is tactful but firm in explaining why creating a separation between these two ideas was essential to getting Open Source accepted by the mainstream.

On the other hand, the end of the essay that looks into the future of Open Source does suffer in hindsight. Open Source has advanced by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. However it is still not in the position of ruling the world as the Revenge of the Hackers suggests it might. Lets give it at least another 10 years.

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