Open-Source Movement Turns 10

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2008-02-08 Print this article Print

The past decade has been marked by enormous achievements and some serious setbacks, says Bruce Perens, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative.

This weekend marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of the "Open Source Definition" and the public announcement of the formation of the Open Source Initiative. The decade has been marked both by enormous achievements and serious setbacks.

"This was the first time that the general public heard what open source was about. Friday, Feb. 8 is the last day of Decade Zero of open source, while Saturday, Feb. 9 is the anniversary of open source and the start of Decade One. It's a computer scientist thing. We always start counting from zero," said Bruce Perens, creator of the Open Source Definition and co-founder of the Open Source Initiative. 

While acknowledging the trailblazing role of Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, Perens also acknowledged the conflict that has existed between open-source and free-software evangelism.

"I always intended to have open source be another way of talking about free software, tailored to the ears of business people, that would eventually lead them to a greater appreciation of Richard Stallman's arguments on that front. This has come to pass, and I hope you'll continue to make it so," Perens said in a blog posting.

Perens said the growth of open source has exceeded his expectations, noting that free and open-source software is now not only mainstream, but even leads in many business computing categories. "Our most pervasive penetration has been in business servers and embedded systems," he said.

Microsoft officials have acknowledged that some of the changes in the upcoming release of Windows Server 2008 are a response to features and performance advantages that have made Linux an attractive option to its customers.

Perens said he is cognizant that free and open-source software has not really made a dent into Microsoft's dominance on the desktop front, even though "free software provides a large part of Apple's Mac operating system as well as of some critical elements of Microsoft Windows."

But some commentators have said they believe that Windows Vista, Microsoft's latest and widely criticized operating system release, has created the single biggest opportunity for the Linux desktop to take market share.

The fact that both Microsoft and Apple have been "forced to develop strategies to live with us, some of them less comfortable than others," is another notable achievement, Perens said, as was the release of the third version of the GNU General Public License.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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