PC Week's (now eWEEK's) birth year-1984-was a busy one for technology. One platform that began to take shape at that time was focused not on hardware or software but on licensing. Richard Stallman quit his job at MIT to start the GNU project, an effort to produce a clone of the Unix operating system to be distributed under a license that would ensure users' freedom to run, modify and redistribute the software. The open-source model has since driven much innovation in enterprise technology.
years ago, this publication began chronicling the ecosystem that had sprung up
around IBM's PC. It
was a platform that proved remarkably fertile, owing not only to the "business-approved"
blessing that came with the IBM brand but
also to the platform's open architecture.
Week's birth year-1984-was a busy one for technology, one that saw, among other
things, AT&T divest itself (temporarily, at least) of its local telephony
holdings to take a crack at monetizing its own remarkably fertile, open
architecture platform, Unix. However, where innovation on the PC platform
quickly spread beyond IBM's control,
AT&T chose an opposite course for Unix, attempting to tighten its grasp on
the previously freewheeling platform.
a third platform began to take shape in 1984-one not principally of hardware or
software but of licensing. It was that year when Richard Stallman quit his job
at MIT to start the GNU project, an effort to produce a clone of the Unix
operating system to be distributed under a license that would ensure users'
freedom to run, modify and redistribute the software.
the time I started at PC Week Labs (very soon to be eWEEK Labs) in 1999, IBM's PC,
AT&T's Unix, and Stallman's GNU toolchain and GPL license had-with the
keystone addition of Linus Torvalds' Linux kernel-emerged as a serious
challenger in enterprise computing and the prime example of the newly coined
"open-source" model of development.
the 10 years that I've been a part of eWEEK Labs, I've seen Linux-based
operating systems progress at an astonishing rate, moving from light-duty,
edge-of-network tasks to the heart of enterprise data centers.
the desktop, my experiences with Linux have gone from painful, in 1999, to
workable, in 2002, to satisfying, in 2004. Since about 2006, when Ubuntu Linux
hit its stride, I've been convinced that a tipping-point-type flip toward Linux
isn't a matter of if but of when. That may sound absurd, but the velocity of
innovation we've seen on Linux during the past 10 years couldn't paint a
of the relatively mature server and desktop fields, the footprint of Linux and
open-source software is even more dramatic. Cloud computing and Web 2.0
wouldn't exist as we know them today without Linux and open source, and every
time some new appliance or gadget hits the market, there's a good chance that
it's Linux that's driving the hardware.
the quick pace at which it progresses, one of my favorite things about open-source
software is the way that it-like the personal computer itself-can dramatically
broaden access to technologies previously available only to large
an eWEEK Labs analyst, I've come into contact with many products and services
priced wildly out of reach for an individual entrepreneur. The example that
always comes to mind for me is Blue Martini, an e-commerce suite that my former
colleague Tim Dyck reviewed about six months after I started here. The product
was priced at (raise pinkie finger to mouth) $1 million-plus consulting
open source has spread into the realm of enterprise applications, it's become
possible for an individual or a department within a larger organization to
adopt or try out an e-commerce suite like Blue Martini-or a database, CRM suite, data
integration tool, you name it-set in a free, community-supported incarnation
before stepping up to a formally supported version (or not, depending on the
impossible to know where technology will lead us in the 25 years to come, but
I'm confident that open source will be the engine that will get us there.
Executive Editor Jason Brooks can be reached at