FLOSS: PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE

Atif Hussain

PAST

History of FLOSS ² Part 1
1960s to 70s ² Software sharing culture in US labs (Stanford, Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, MIT) † 1976 ² Bill Gates' ´Open Letter to Hobbyistsµ advocating that software should be paid for, including royalties † Early 80s ² LISP programming language was taken by MIT, to the dismay of hackers. † January 1984 ² Richard Stallman quit job at MIT. Started to worked on GNU, a set of programming tools. † 1986 ² Free Software Foundation was born. To promote 'free software' and the GNU project. † 1990 ² Bringing 'free software' to the corporate world with Cygnus.
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History of FLOSS ² Part 2
1991 ² Linus Torvalds distributed a Unix-like kernel and encouraged everyone to help improve it. The kernel was later named ´Linuxµ and then integrated with GNU into an operating system called ´GNU/Linuxµ. † 1992 ² Xfree86 was born, the start of bringing GNU/Linux to the desktop level. † 1993 ² Debian and Slackware as implementations of GNU/Linux were born. † 1994 ² Apache, the now popular web server system, was born. † 1995 ² Red Hat was born.
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History of FLOSS ² Part 3
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1996 ² KDE as desktop environment was born. 1997 ² GNU/Linux grabbed the 25% share of the server market and grew at 25% per year. 1997 ² GNOME desktop manager was born. 1998 ² Netscape released Netscape Navigator code base under open source. This paved the way for development of Mozilla Firefox. 1998 ² The term 'open source' was coined. Led to the formation of Open Source Initiative and formulation of open source definition. 1999 ² Red Hat was transformed into a corporation. Other corporations were established around ´sellingµ Linux: not charging for the software but for the support services.

PRESENT

South America
In 2005 the Government of Peru voted to adopt open source across all its bodies. In the preamble to the bill, the Peruvian government stressed that the choice was made to ensure that key pillars of democracy were safeguarded: "The basic principles which inspire the Bill are linked to the basic guarantees of a state of law." In December 2004, law in Venezuela (Decree 3390) went into effect, mandating a two year transition to open source in all public agencies. As of June 2009 this ambitious transition is still under way. In February 2008, the Dominican Republic passed a law to facilitate the migration of all public entities (government, education, etc.) to Software Libre, and to adopt open standards in the public sector.

Europe
In Germany's federal state Thuringia the Ministry for culture and education has launched a project called "Linux für Schulen" (Linux for schools) which is intended to further the influences of Open Source software in public education. Munich city civil service in Germany, 2003 started migrating to free software.

Asia
The Government of India has set up a resource centre for Free and Open Source Software managed jointly by CDAC Chennai and Anna University, Chennai. It has one of its node in Mumbai at VJTI College. A couple of hundred thousand copies of GNU/Linux have been distributed across India, through local popular computer magazines, at a price of just around $2. That includes both the cost of a slick magazine and CD. This software can, of course, be legally copied across as many computers as needed. Pakistan Ministry of Science and Technology advisor Salman Ansari says that some 50,000 low cost computers are to be installed in schools and colleges all over Pakistan. These will be PII computers, each being sourced for less than $100 a piece, he says.

Far East
Vietnam - the Ministry of Information and Communications has issued an instruction on using open source software at state agencies. "Malaysian Public Sector Open Source Software Program" launched in 2004 saved millions on proprietary software licences till 2008. A recent report at OpenSource.org has brought up an interesting fact. The Malaysian government is using 97% open source software.

FUTURE

Sam Ramji, Senior director of platform technology, Microsoft
"We·ve made so much progress in terms of opening the channels of dialogue between the OS community, partners, vendors, and customers. Dissonance won·t help anyone progress and innovate. One of biggest misconceptions that we continue to battle is that we compete with open source. Microsoft does not compete with open source."

Dave Rosenberg, CEO, Mulesource
"I see the current tech climate as ripe with opportunity for open source. With the murky U.S. economy, companies are much less interested in spending huge amounts of their budgets on up-front license fees to proprietary vendors. IT shops are more interested than ever in controlling their fate -and controlling their destiny. "

Robert Sutor, Vice president of open source and standards, IBM

"The new challenges and pressures will arise because of business issues, and not technology, in my opinion. We have many, many excellent developers in the open source communities. We need to have many, many more excellent 'big picture' leaders emerging from and for those communities."

Zack Urlocker, Vice president of products, MySQL

"Young folks starting their careers in IT are already experts in open source; they've been using it for most of their college life. For managers and older developers, I think these are important skills to have. Just like you couldn't get ahead in the late 1990s without Web development experience, I think we're going to see the same trend around open source. These will be the necessary technical skills for career development."

Jim Zemlin, Executive Director, Linux Foundation

Looking to the end of the 2010's, Zemlin draws on the famous vision of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates for a computer on every desktop and every home that drove that last revolution. "My vision," Zemlin said, "is to have a computer in every gas pump, X-ray system, cell phone, GPS system, set top box, picture frame, car, logistics system, airplane, DVR, server, super computer and desktop all running Linux."

The Future?
The future is Open«RIGHT?

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