Saturday, 5 March 2016

Open source has come far, no doubt.   Let’s take a look at the three distinct generations:

The Richard Stallman generation:
Founding the free software movement in the 80s, this generation built GNU and the FSF, which made it possible a decade later for Linux-based operating systems to function. As FOSS purists, they also tended to view free software as a “moral crusade”, and they remained relatively marginal within the mainstream technology world.

Linux Kernel generation:
They were the first to have access to free/open source operating systems that actually worked by combining Linus Torvalds's free kernel with GNU utilities. This second generation was less ideological than the first generation. Torvalds et all favoured open source primarily for functional, not moral, reasons. They saw it as a more efficient way to code, and a less expensive means of working with computers. But they were still independent, and wary of becoming corporate minions.  This is where the lines begin to blur or split between what is FOSS and  what is Open-Source.  This generation also brought GNU/Linux  into the mainstream. They wrote the code that made open source operating systems not just functional, but top-tier and competitive with professional closed-source platforms. They also faced bitter battles with Microsoft in the late 90s and early 2000s, which younger coders perhaps do not fully appreciate. People who were not active open source programmers or users before the mid-2000s probably take it for granted that they do not have to worry about potentially being sued for using GNU/Linux.

Today's Generation (Gen 3):
This is the generation that came of age once GNU/Linux was already the defacto operating system for millions of servers, at a time when no one questioned the value of open source code. For this generation, open source is no longer an argument. It's a default. For that reason, the ideological and functionalist debates have largely disappeared from the scene. Most open source programmers today do not give away code because they think it is the morally right thing to do, or because they deem it more efficient. They do it because there is no real alternative in an increasing number of niches.   From the cloud (where OpenStack reigns supreme) to big data (where Hadoop, Spark and a host of NoSQL databases are now conquering the proprietary holdouts) to SDN and NFV, open source dominates. If you want to work in these ecosystems, you have to use open source.  Most open source supporters no doubt see this as a good thing. The trend toward licensing everything under Apache licenses, rather than the GPL, will not please people who think the Apache terms are too liberal. Similarly, the increasing influence of corporations in the open source space -- heralded most recently by controversy over the Linux Foundation's change to its by-laws -- has caused some tensions within the community.  Last but not least, the open source community's cozying-up to Microsoft in recent years, while seemingly normal to members of the third open source generation, may not sit completely comfortably with people who lived through the struggles of yore.  

adapted from write up by: Christopher Tozzi | The VAR Guy

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