Open Source Enters Decade One


The end of ‘Decade Zero’ for Open Source is now over. Decade One begins now.

This past Saturday the Open Source world celebrated the 10th anniversary of Bruce Perens’ defining document of the Open Source revolution, the aptly titled The Open Source Definition.

I spoke with Perens about the anniversary last week over on the main site . I’ve spoken with Perens a few times over the years and he’s always got something interesting to say, this most recent time was no exception. 
The Open Source Definition in his view has stood the test of time – proof positive of that view is the fact that Open Source is now widely adopted by enterprises big and small and even by financial institutions.

One particular quote that I got from the conversation which was particularly enlightening was his comment on what he might do differently now having the benefit of hindsight.

“Had I known we would have this embarrassment of riches of so many open
source licenses, I would have thought more about how to keep that from
happening,” Perens remarked. “When you promote something this radical
to business you don’t really expect that they’ll all jump in.”

On a personal note, I remember well trying to explain in 1997 to managers above me that Linux was Free Software – and not freeware. It was a tough conversation to have. Once the term Open Source came around and became popularized thanks to Perens and of course Netscape – the conversations about Linux became a whole lot easier.

Free Software makes a lot of sense as no one wants to be locked in. Freedom is a fundamental tenant of Western society after all. That said, Open is an easier term to ‘sell’ than “Free” in my honest opinion. By being Open (and sometimes Free) software users around the globe now have choices to prevent vendor lock-in that simply did not exist in the same quantity and quality as they did a decade ago.

Happy Birthday Open Source (and thanks for all the code)!

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