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.