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Drupal and Linux: Lessons learned for building open source communities

Drupal and Linux: Lessons learned for building open source communities

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Published by: Crowdsourcing.org on Nov 27, 2011
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Drupal and Linux: Lessons learned forbuilding open source communities
Posted 17 Nov 2011 by Ruth Suehle 
Image by opensource.com
In today's Open Your World Forum webcast,Chris Grams moderated a discussion between Michael Tiemann and Dries Buytaert about how Linux and Drupal haveevolved as two thriving open source communities competing in the enterpriseworld.
 Michael Tiemann is a true open source software pioneer. He made his first majoropen source contribution more than two decades ago by writing the GNU C++compiler, the first native-code C++ compiler and debugger. His early work led tothe creation of leading open source technologies and the first open source businessmodel.In 1989, Tiemann's technical expertise and entrepreneurial spirit led him to co-found Cygnus Solutions, the first company to provide commercial support for open
source software. In 1999, Cygnus solutions was acquired by Red Hat, whereMichael has served in various leadership roles over the last 12 years. He is
currently Red Hat’s Vice Pre
sident of Open Source Affairs.Dries Buytaert is the original creator and project lead for the Drupal open sourceweb publishing and collaboration platform. Buytaert serves as president of theDrupal Association, a non-profit organization formed to help Drupal flourish. He isalso co-founder and chief technology officer of Acquia, a venture-backed softwarecompany that offers products and services for Drupal. Dries is also a co-founder of Mollom, a web service that helps you identify content quality and, moreimportantly, helps you stop website spam. A native of Belgium, Buytaert holds aPhD in computer science and engineering from Ghent University and a LicentiateComputer Science (MsC) from the University of Antwerp. In 2008, Buytaert waselected Young Entrepreneurs of Tech by BusinessWeek as well as MIT TR 35Young Innovator.
How Drupal was born
 "Drupal started in 2000, over 11 years ago," Buytaert said. "I was a student doingmy computer science degree in Antwerp and was involved in open source." Afterworking on wireless network drivers in the Linux kernel, he started working on amessage board for local friends to communicate with one another. PHP andMySQL were relatively new technologies, and he used them to build his forum as away to learn them. Eleven years later, it's the Drupal we now know.For the first year, he worked alone. Then it evolved into a changing, experimentalplatform, as new technologies emerged and were added. People started asking foraccess to the code behind the site, and Buytaert decided to make Drupal opensource.Drupal continued as a hobby while Buytaert worked at a startup and on his PhD.Around 2008, he had the vision of "being to Drupal what Red Hat was to Linux,"and founded a company--Acquia--to do just that. Drupal has grown from "a hobbythat started in my dorm room to...one of the top five largest open source projects inthe world with tens of thousands of contributors," he said.
Drupal 7 Core, the base platform, accepted patches from more than 1,000 peopleand more than 10,000 modules (extensions), each with maintainers and teamsactively working on the Drupal code base. It has even become a business andsource of income for many of those. Thousands attend Drupal-based events eachyear, like its 3,000-attendee DrupalCon and the smaller DrupalCamps. Any givenweekend, there are 3-4 DrupalCamps held around the world.
Tiemann's story on the early days of Linux
 "I dropped out because I was so obsessed with a concept called free software that Icould not do my homework," Tiemann said. He learned about GNU in its earlydays and went to meet Richard Stallman. "I was so excited about the quality, theperformance, the flexibility, and the possibility I saw with GNU software that Icommitted to work on it," Tiemann said. "I believed that in our capitalistic-dominated system, that to have a long-term, sustainable project, one needed toengage with the free market." He founded Cygnus Support to that goal with $6,000in 1989. It was sold to Red Hat for considerably more in January 2000.What are the starting points of an open source community? "So many of theseprojects begin with people who have absolutely nothing in common except thedesire to solve their problems in unconventional ways.""What I found initially was that nobody could get really excited about it [GNU]because it was a very complicated thing to digest." He spent much of a year givingseminars on its internals, bringing in hundreds of people who then had the abilityto go forward and hack on it.There was a perfectly serviceable open source operating system when Linuxbegan--BSD UNIX. "But AT&T was intent on mutually assured destruction bysuing the Regents of California," Tiemann said.Linux functioned in its early days as a way of bringing together people with nocommon interest but solving their own problems. This unifying fabric introducedpeople who otherwise never would have met. Today the result has beenremarkable. The Fedora Project releases 200 million lines of software every sixmonths with an estimated million developers and applications.

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