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Open Source

The Past, Present, and Future of OSS 150

Posted by samzenpus
from the listen-up dept.
CowboyNeal writes "The nature of the open source movement and its software over the years has changed considerably. From its humble beginnings in the early 80s to mainstream Android adoption, open source software along with computers and technology as a whole has gone from the sidelines to a prevalent position in the lives of modern consumers." Read below for the rest of what CowboyNeal has to say.
The open source movement that we know today has its roots in both academia and hobbyists dating back to the late 1970s and early 1980s. Before even the founding of the FSF, public domain software was available in abundance. Software packages of all sorts were freely given away or sold for the cost of copying them. It's important to note that a given piece of public domain software may or may not have come with its source code, so while it was free in the cost sense, it wasn't yet strictly free in the freedom sense. The early versions of Bell Labs Unix included the source code, which users could use to modify and extend the OS. In 1978, Bill Joy, then a graduate student at Berkeley, released the first Berkeley Software Distribution, or BSD. Rather than a complete OS, BSD was an add-on to V6 Unix. BSD would grow over the years that followed to become a nearly complete operating system. In 1983, Richard Stallman at MIT began the GNU project, to develop a free software version of Unix. By 1985, the GNU version of Emacs had its first release, and in 1987, the GNU C Compiler would follow. As parts of a possible GNU system began to coalesce, soon all that was missing was a kernel.

Both BSD and the GNU project would continue on through the early 1990s, when new catalysts for change were introduced. The release of a new BSD aimed at desktop and consumer hardware, 386BSD, was held up in courts by AT&T. Also around this time a Finnish student, Linus Torvalds, would release his first operating system kernel called Linux, in 1991. By 1992, Linux would adopt the GNU Public License, and be distributed with the userland that GNU had built. Since the GNU system was nearly complete but lacked a kernel, it was a natural pairing. Also in 1992, the BSD legal case would finally be resolved, and the parts of BSD that weren't written by AT&T were released to the public, and while it was short-lived, it became the basis for NetBSD and FreeBSD, and other BSD-based operating systems. Though In 1993, an event far bigger than just the world of software hackers took place. For the first time, private individuals could acquire access to the Internet. No longer did someone have to be affiliated with a government or educational institution to get onto the Internet. This rapid influx of enthusiasts provided new manpower for both Linux and BSD projects.

In 1995, the Apache Project would make its first release, based on the source code of NCSA HTTPd, which was nearly ubiquitous as the web server used to power the Internet. Over the years, the NCSA code would be slowly rewritten, and Apache would take over NCSA HTTPd's position as the predominant web server.

By 1998, the open source movement had rapidly grown, but hadn't yet been named as such. In early 1998, Netscape announced that they would release the source code for their flagship product, Navigator. In response to this as well as the growing popularity of Linux and BSD operating systems, the term "open source" was coined and later the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond. The OSI was founded as an organization for education and advocacy, and was inclusive of GPL, BSD, and other "open source compatible" licensed software, such as the Apache Web Server and XFree86 windowing system.

From here it seemed that the sky was the limit for open source software. Over the next few years, Linux would become the de facto server software for many organizations. While desktop market share eluded Linux outside of the hobbyist and enthusiast circles, its place in the data center would be securely cemented. In 2003, a then-little-known-of company called Android, Inc. was formed and began working on software for mobile phones. Before releasing anything, they were acquired by Google in 2005 and set to work on a mobile device platform powered by Linux. In 2007, Google and many other hardware and software companies announced the Open Handset Alliance, and unveiled the Android operating system, which was built on the Linux kernel. A year later in 2008, the first Android device would ship, and by 2010, Google would begin selling their own phones, after partnering with other manufacturers.

By 2008, another odd turn of events would happen. Microsoft was long an enemy of open source and free software, seeing them as potential competitors to its proprietary systems. Soon even the giant of the proprietary software world, would begin to utilize open source software licenses. Microsoft would go so far as to use open source software as part of Windows Azure, and eventually even donate code to the Samba project.

While Linux hasn't taken over desktops in droves here in the states, the same can't be said overseas. Traffic estimates to SourceForge consistently place domestic traffic in only the 15-20% range, meaning that anywhere from 80-85% of the downloads are going overseas, where open source is an easier sell, given the prohibitive cost of a proprietary operating system. However, given the lack of actual sales figures, it's difficult to pin down how widespread open software usage actually is. One place that Linux has won big stateside, in the form of Android, is the mobile phone market, where Android now powers 52% of the smartphones domestically, and 68% of the smartphones in the entire world. 2012 saw another milestone for Linux, when Red Hat, Inc. became the first Linux company to boast of a billion dollars of revenue within a single fiscal year.

It's still difficult to predict what the future holds for open source software. With the advent of programs such as One Laptop per Child (OLPC), which has put Linux-based laptops into the hands of nearly 2 million children, a new generation of children are being raised on open source software overseas. Government adoption of open source software is as it is in other sectors, where Linux has a foothold on the server, but hasn't made significant strides into end user territory yet. That looks to be changing somewhat, with recent movements in Jordan and France, but the change is still slow in happening.
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The Past, Present, and Future of OSS

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's heavy on positive spin, but as lacking in authenticity as a corporate press release.

    • It is official; Netcraft now confirms: Slashdot is dying

      One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered fat nerds talking about Linux community when IDC confirmed that Slashdot's market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all message boards that normal people don't care about. Coming on the heels of a recent Netcraft survey which plainly states that Slashdot has lost more market share, this news serves to reinforce what we've known all along. Slashdot is co

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        One more crippling bombshell hit the already beleaguered fat nerds talking about Linux community when IDC confirmed that Slashdot's market share has dropped yet again, now down to less than a fraction of 1 percent of all message boards that normal people don't care about.

        You're thinking like a businessman, not a nerd. When slashdot started, the internet was tiny compared to today, and most of the people on the net were nerds. Now everyone is on it. And slashdot is NOT a message board for normal people, it's

    • by dgharmon (2564621)
      "It's heavy on positive spin, but as lacking in authenticity as a corporate press release."

      Which of the following are lacking in authenticity?

      ref: 386BSD, Academia, Android operating system, Apache Project, AT&T , Bell Labs Unix, Bill Joy, Bruce Perens, BSD, Emacs , Eric S. Raymond, France, FreeBSD, FSF, GNU C Compiler, GNU Public License, Google, GPL, hardware, Internet., Jordan, kernel, Linus Torvalds, Linux, Linux kernel, Microsoft, MIT , NCSA, NetBSD, Netscape , One Laptop per Child (OLPC), Op
  • by AntiBasic (83586) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @07:30PM (#41799899)

    Hey guys did you hear? 2013 will finally be the year of linux desktop!

    • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @07:32PM (#41799925)
      I thought it was the year the Desktop died. Isn't that what Windows 8 is trying to do?
    • Err,

      2013 will finally be the year of linux desktop!

      Much as you're entitled to your opinion, you aren't entitled to your own facts. The issue is: -

      You just made up that statement. Right?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @07:45PM (#41800011)

      1996 was the year of the Linux desktop for me. My lawn... you're standing on it.

      • It's a good thing you are all in favour of openness then. Otherwise I should get off your lawn.
      • by tsa (15680)

        Man, those were the years. Every year Linux on the desktop was just around the corner, and next year Linux would make its big breaktrough! Nobody could ever imagine that Linux would eventually be big on mobile phones and HDTVs back then.

    • Not sure what you mean by that. My desktop has been linux for a decade at least. The only time I go into Windows is to use OneNote, and if I could find some substitute for that, windows would be gone entirely.
      • by drosboro (1046516)
        That's funny... On my work laptop, I use Linux specifically for Xournal, because I prefer it (in it's Linux binary form) so heavily to OneNote... Then, for all the other stuff I have to run at work, I boot back into Windows. But, Xournal doesn't have handwriting recognition, search, notebook organization, etc... just really, really awesome for producing miniscule pdfs of my handwritten notes.
    • Who cares (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Total Linux implementations dwarf Windows. Android + other embedded Linux + servers and other infrastructure exist in huge numbers. The desktop is nowhere near the majority of installed os.

    • by murdocj (543661) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:41PM (#41800591)

      Well, seriously, it's pretty much now or never for the mythical "linux desktop". With Windows 8 MS has managed to simultaneously piss off the customers, the hardware vendors, and the 3rd party software vendors. If Linux can't make inroads into the desktop market over the next year or two, when will it?

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Well, seriously, it's pretty much now or never for the mythical "linux desktop". With Windows 8 MS has managed to simultaneously piss off the customers, the hardware vendors, and the 3rd party software vendors. If Linux can't make inroads into the desktop market over the next year or two, when will it?

        You know I was thinking that in 2000 when they released Windows ME (win2k was their business line) and in 2006 when they released Vista. so I'm not holding my breath after Win8 in 2012 and I'll give you good odds on 2018, 2024 and 2030. Much of the OSS community is caught in the same smart phone/tablet hype as everyone else and make fancy new touch-friendly environments, but all those applications aren't going to be touch-friendly any time soon. That sort of thing just doesn't happen very quickly in the OSS

        • by murdocj (543661) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @11:37PM (#41801123)

          But this is a much bigger problem for MS than ME or Vista. It's not a poorly performing iteration of the same O/S. They have changed the UI to confuse users. They are building their own hardware and thus threatening the hardware vendors. Valve is worried that they are going to lock out 3rd party distribution of software. It's not just users who are annoyed, it's businesses that now have pretty strong business case to make an alternative available.

          • by humanrev (2606607)

            What do you expect Microsoft to do? They have to compete with Apple on their own turf, and there's a significant ecosystem around Windows as well as a massive developer base they can leverage which might end up working in their favor.

            Despite everything that Slashdotters have bashed Microsoft for doing, they're still doing alright and I'm hesitant to believe they've totally screwed up yet. The last time they screwed up was with Vista, and everyone thought this was the end, Microsoft was finished, Linux would

          • Users were able to transition from a DOS UI to a Windows UI pretty successfully. MS is threatening hardware companies? Apple dictates you use hardware built solely by them. And before any businesses start thinking about changing platforms they will need port all their current applications and data, retrain their development staff, retrain their support staff, and retrain their users. The Linux desktop needs applications. If you just want to surf the Internet or use the iffy productivity software and e-mail

            • by murdocj (543661)

              I'm not saying that MS or Windows is going to disappear. Just that if Linux is ever going to make inroads on the desktop, this is the moment. Or to put it another way, if Linux can't make a move now, people can stop talking about the Linux desktop hitting a mass market, because it just isn't going to happen. Ever.

            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              Users were able to transition from a DOS UI to a Windows UI pretty successfully

              That was a pretty major step in the right direction, and the UI wasn't just something that Microsoft invented out of nowhere either, they were a member of the Motif WG (which is especially notable since we're discussing history here) and they had that collaboration to guide them as well.

              The Linux desktop needs applications. If you just want to surf the Internet or use the iffy productivity software and e-mail services please make the change.

              The productivity and email software isn't any more iffy than Microsoft's stuff, in my experience. I haven't had OO.o crap on me since beta days. I have had Office behave oddly for me in configurations I figured should have w

              • "I have had Office behave oddly for me in configurations"

                Perhaps you need to brush up on how to create proper "configurations". The problems you mentioned look more like user setup issues than the actual software.

                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  Perhaps you need to brush up on how to create proper "configurations". The problems you mentioned look more like user setup issues than the actual software.

                  Really? Pray tell, how so?

            • by mcgrew (92797) *

              Users were able to transition from a DOS UI to a Windows UI pretty successfully.

              Transitioning from a text based interface to a GUI is easy. Transitioning from one GUI to a completely different GUI is quite a bit more of a learning curve.

        • by mcgrew (92797) *

          Linux is not 10 years behind. I just don't think we're there any time soon.

          If by "behind" you mean desktops in use, yes -- but Linux doesn't spend billions on advertising like Apple and Microsoft. Most non-nerds don't have a clue Linux even exists. Why should I care what OS you're using, as long as mine fills my needs?

          If by "behind" you mean features, Linux is way ahead of Windows in features.

      • by tsa (15680)

        Never. Linux didn't make it in the 1990s/2000s, and that was THE time for Linux. MS made utter crap, Apple was nowhere and Linux was good enough for the desktop already back then. It didn't make it back then and it will not make it now.

    • ... that Linux (cloud) and Linux (Android) and BSD (Apple) made the stand-alone Desktop obsolete.
    • by jon3k (691256)
      All joking aside, it really is the year for Linux. Not the traditional desktop, but with 1.3 million android devices activated PER DAY [techcrunch.com] it really will be the year of Linux.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    When all others fail, CowboyNeal.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I guess you geeks haven't been paying attention ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @07:44PM (#41800003)

    From the '70s to 1995 it was The Impossible Dream. A small band of dreamers nominally led by Richard Stallman, up against corporate goliaths like Microsoft and IBM. Can you possibly imagine such a world? The theme song would've been "Imagine" by John Lennon.

    After Netscape Navigator exploded on the scene in 1995 and introduced the masses to the WWW, leveraging the exponential growth of telecom bandwidth exploiting optical fiber, it became Inevitable. That's because the staff at Microsoft, IBM, AOL, Netscape, and other tech companies couldn't pivot fast enough to meet the explosion in demand for technological change. The situation was ripe for freeware that could be modified and extended by tech-savvy customers, and for emerging standards to be crafted from the bottom up, rather from the usual consortium of a handful of giant tech companies eager to maintain their respective customer bases.

    • Great post. Up until 1995, hackers who believed in sharing ruled in the OSS movement. Then, money came. Redhat figured out how to package OSS to make money selling support to corporations, while Debian figured out how to deliver binary packages with complex inter-dependencies. With the rise of binary distribution of packages in popular distros, we saw the fall of hackers sharing with each other. Instead of sharing directly, hackers have to lobby to have their projects included in popular distros. The

      • by bug1 (96678) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @11:03PM (#41800925)

        The heartbreaking thing for me is that the work of hackers who believed in sharing is now the tool coprorations use to enslave users.

        Copyleft is uselss when corporations can use alternative methods to ensure free software is unmodifiable.

          - apple put a shiny layer ontop of BSD and make billions, cant modify it.
          - google create android ontop of Linux and then (something), cant modify 99% of android devices.
          - Cloud companies creating solutions based on free software and users commonly dont even on their own data let alone anything else.
          - Big sites like amazon/ebay/facebook taking as much as they can get, giving nothing back.

        • by bug1 (96678)

          oh and;
            - media companies (MPAA/RIAA etc) only allowing distribution on devices that can be modified by end users.
            - UEFI making it difficult to even boot free software on some architectures.

          Free software movement has made so much progress in the field of software, but its the enemies from other fields that are destroying it.

        • Don't forget the canonical example of TiVo and the TiVo-ization [wikipedia.org] of GPL software behind a crypto-graphic signing of code. The TiVO one-way no-share-backsies approach is exactly what led to the necessity of creating GPL-V3 [wikipedia.org]which expressly forbids doing what TiVo did:

          .

          actively blocking users from running modified software on its hardware by design

        • maybe slightly off topic but some might find it interesting, i use 3g at home as i live out in the country, i bought an intellinet router which i'm fairly certain is Linux based. Anyway if you plug in a usb modem it connects to 3g.
          I also have an android mobile phone. both services use prepay credit.

          last night i'm on my way home from buying credit for my phone or my modem, and thinking this is a pain if i put it on the modem i can't make calls or texts without moving the sim from the modem to the phone and i

        • I couldn't agree with this more.

          I just bought a Samsung 'smart' tv. I own a cable hd box. While trying to get things to work I discovered by accident that both of these pieces of equipment have oss pieces, which has led me down a rabbit hole of investigating licenses, checking firmware releases and jailbreaking tutorials.

          These boxes should be able to talk to each other. Easily. I can see their ip addresses. I am not an expert but I don't want to have to buy a seperate device for each piece of functionality

  • by girlinatrainingbra (2738457) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @08:00PM (#41800091)
    I was expecting to find some content of interest to slashdotters, not just a rehash of some historical factoid. Where did News for Nerds go? North? Was this a book report that Cowboy Neal was assigned? Is this posting the reason that Cowboy Neal and the obligatory option has been absent from the polls?

    .

    Could Cowboy Neal answer why he's missing from the polls? Anyway, about the future of OSS, OSS as a paradigm will continue to exist. Open source as "existing available source code, available openly" existed pre-GNU, pre-Stallman. There is so much conflation of free software, open source, OSS, and GNU licensing that even this summary article had a few swings and misses.

    It's possible for people to be a powerset (2**{whatever number of options}) of all of these different overlapping and some mutually-exclusive definitions of open source software (lowercase, like lowercase god). That would be a good poll: open source software to me means:... x, y, z, Cowboy Neal.

  • by AddisonW (2318666) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @08:01PM (#41800093)

    The most important change is the maturation of open source developers and open source development.

    Use of the viral and restrictive GPL is falling dramatically and truly free licensing like BSD is on the rise. Fading away are the days of the open source world being dominated by 15 years screaming about 'possibly GPL violation!!!' on Slashdot.

    Everywhere that open source is succeeding is thanks to BSD licensed software:

    * BSD based Chrome over the GPL based Mozilla

    * Partially BSD based OS X on the desktop over the clusterfuck of GPL Linux desktops

    * BSD based(outside the kernel) Android dominating the cellphone market over the effectively dead GPL based Linux cellphone efforts

    • by AddisonW (2318666)

      Edit:

      Fading away are the days of the open source world being dominated by 15 year olds screaming about 'possibly GPL violation!!!' on Slashdot.

    • by andrew3 (2250992) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:47PM (#41800613)

      BSD based Chrome over the GPL based Mozilla

      Chromium is BSD-licensed. Chrome is available under a proprietary EULA [google.com]. So much for freedom...

      Partially BSD based OS X on the desktop over the clusterfuck of GPL Linux desktops

      You say "on the desktop", but really Darwin is only a bare-bones OS with nothing GUI/desktop related on it.

      * BSD based(outside the kernel) Android dominating the cellphone market over the effectively dead GPL based Linux cellphone efforts

      Android has a lot of software licensed under the Apache 2.0 license. They also have a lot of proprietary software on it, especially drivers and firmware.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by tlhIngan (30335)

      Use of the viral and restrictive GPL is falling dramatically and truly free licensing like BSD is on the rise. Fading away are the days of the open source world being dominated by 15 years screaming about 'possibly GPL violation!!!' on Slashdot.

      One of the major ironies is how closed the GPL can be.

      Take some BSD code and stick it into a GPL project. Perfectly legal (assuming it's modified BSD - there's still a lot of original BSD licensed code out there).

      Now improve on that GPL'd code - fix a bug say.

      Now the

      • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Monday October 29, 2012 @06:30AM (#41802445) Journal

        One of the major ironies is how closed the GPL can be.

        This is a major WTF. From you.

        It's astonishing that anyone can believe the GPL is "really closed".

        It honestly makes you sound like an entitled whiner. Oe noes! I can't use someone's code for free!!

        It's zero cost. You can look at the code. You can compile the code. You can modify the code. You can modify it any way you choose. You can give it to anyone you want. You can modify it then give it to anyone you want. You can wrap it up in pretty paper and sell it if you so choose.

        The only way that's "really closed" is the same way that you're "on crack".

        blah BSD blah

        That's explicitly what the BSD license allwos: taking the code and not giving back. Except in the GPL case it's still out there for anyone to use.

        And there's nothing legally questionable about looking at a copyright work, then coming up with something inspired by it. It there was then every book and film out there would be a copyright violation.

        However, the whole unable-to-get-at-shared-code probably irks them to no end - they know there's a fix, but they can't incorporate it because of the GPL.

        Why does it irk them any more than a fix being in a proprietary product?

        At the same time, people are screaming in their ears about how BSD lets some company "steal" their code and close

        Sure, it's fun to make stuff up.

        o the superior GPL, when the supposedly open GPL has done exactly that.

        Except it's not closed. It's still out there for anyone to look at. The BSD guys can go back, look at the code and see where the bug was and fix it. It's like a bug report on steroids. They can't copy the code wholesale (unless they relicense their part, in which case they can), but they can get all the tiny details and make an equivalent fix.

        The GPL project openly flaunts that code back at the BSD folk - like a flag showing how superior the GPL is.

        You are way paranoid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by mathew42 (2475458)

      Everywhere that open source is succeeding is thanks to BSD licensed software:

      * BSD based Chrome over the GPL based Mozilla

      * Partially BSD based OS X on the desktop over the clusterfuck of GPL Linux desktops

      * BSD based(outside the kernel) Android dominating the cellphone market over the effectively dead GPL based Linux cellphone efforts

      It depends on your motivation for writing the code. If I want to write some code, have some else make some "cosmetic" changes then charge me for that code, well sure BSD is an appropriate license. However if I want that code (including modifications) to remain free then the GPL is a more appropriate license.

      If Android was 100% open source then people would be easily able to upgrade their firmware to the latest Android version instead of being left with third party firmware that hacks binary blobs. However i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by peppepz (1311345)
      GPL-based Mozilla? "Partially BSD based" OS X? You're climbing mirrors.

      Mozilla's license is closer to the BSD ones than to the GPL. Chrome is closed source, not BSD.

      OS X is mostly closed source, too, although the core kernel (with no drivers) is BSD-licensed the source they release doesn't even boot on any existing machine so I'd hardly consider it an example of a "mature open source development".

      Since you're quickly writing off Android's kernel in order to depict the whole product as "BSD based", I w

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You focus on GUI market share as the measure of succes. Don't forget televisions, many run Linux nowadays.

      But I don't think GUI market share is the correct measure of succes. Look at nature. Every single species alive today has survived eons of competitive evolution, and many will for eons to come. yet most, if not all, have a tiny 'market share'. Survival is the true measure of succes, not market share.

      Linux and the software running on it have no trouble attracting users and developers, more than enough to

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Looks like actually GPL use is increasing: http://upsilon.cc/~zack/blog/posts/2012/02/gpl_d_debian_software_skew/ [upsilon.cc]

  • F/OSS will lose (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 28, 2012 @08:07PM (#41800117)

    We're already witnessing the twilight of the entire F/OSS movement, unless people wake up and realize that all the gains of the last few decades will be lost if

    * first to file supersedes first to invent
    * free access to computing hardware is circumvented by cryptography
    * cloud computing services, built on free software, because they aren't distributing binary code, aren't bound to abide by the same ethical obligations as traditional software vendors.

    The forces allied against F/OSS are legion, and powerful. They will do their damnedest to bury F/OSS, because it threatens their survival. F/OSS advocates often act as if their their own survival is a given. Nothing can stop the tide. Think again. Who's fighting the good fight? Richard. What does he get for his pains? He's the constant butt of jokes around here.

    As with most things in life, you'll reap what you sow. If you don't give a shit, fine, live in ignorance and let other people dictate the conditions of your life. If you do care, then get off your ass and wake the fuck up. You are losing.

    • by njahnke (757694)

      Richard.

      took me a second to realize you meant rms. do you know him personally?

      • >took me a second to realize you meant rms. do you know him personally?

        Consider I live in a little third world country on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean and I know him personally and have had fun discussions with him while taking pictures in the mountains - the odds of the OP knowing him personally probably rather better than you think.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      > Richard. What does he get for his pains? He's the constant butt of jokes around here.

      Since at least 8 years ago /.'s environment has been degrading constantly.

      The inability to do away with professional trolls with odd subjects as racial or porn themes and the utter disregard for other ACs which used to bring important contributions has made this a shallow site, where registered users post the most useless comments (because they need to be seen).

      RMS being joke matter is no surprise at all. I can assure

    • Damn it you're right. My above post says that F/OSS will live on, but it won't live on unless we fight for our right to create, distribute, and run our own software on our own hardware. You're right about all of the locking down of hardware. There's also a return to the walling in of gardens by Apple, Amazon, Barnes-n-Noble, BlackBerry, and even MS wants in, and wants to keep all of their customers inside their bubble world. It's like how my parents describe the days of AOL and compuserve without open p
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I dream of a world where ideas are evaluated on their merits, instead of who they came from.

    • Re:F/OSS will lose (Score:5, Interesting)

      by andrew3 (2250992) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:41PM (#41800589)

      Mod parent up, very true.

      The era of mobile phones presents a new set of hardware, most running proprietary firmware and controlled by proprietary drivers. A GNU hacker describes difficulties in producing free replacements for these [gnu.org]:

      one device - the HTC Universal - took four of us three years of part-time work to finally understand all of the hardware. the best i ever managed on one device was 8 weeks (!) - the Compaq ipaq hw6915 - and i had to stop because the last 3 of those 8 weeks were spent _not_ managing to get the device to come out of suspend.

      ...

      by the time you have source code, it's too late: the device is out the door. it's obsolete already, anyway.

      I'm not saying there's anything wrong with some optimism, but people who care about software freedom shouldn't overlook these major blocking issues.

    • That's a sort of realist 'blame the corporation' type post, and it's somewhat appropriate. Of course, there are plenty enemies of open source .. just about anyone who wants to sell software!

      But don't blame the death of open source on others. It's the open source movement that's killing open source. Seriously, I've been using Linux for a long time, and you know what? It really does still suck. I just upgraded my desktop to Ubuntu 12.10 and the VMware networking has flown apart again. Unity is a chain of t
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Windows 8 is going to attract users like crazy. Once it seriously hits businesses, people are going to love it.

        And this frankly bizarre prediction is the point where it becomes obvious that this must be a shill post, from someone who has probably never run desktop Linux.

      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Seriously, I've been using Linux for a long time, and you know what? It really does still suck. I just upgraded my desktop to Ubuntu 12.10 and the VMware networking has flown apart again. Unity is a chain of terrible design decisions and I still need to use package management software in order to install applications on my desktop.

        Are you trolling, or going for "funny"? If you think Linux sucks why did you upgrade rather than wiping the drive and installing Windows?

        Maybe it's because I'm using KDE and you'

    • by Eskarel (565631)

      FFS, first to file doesn't mean what you think it does, it doesn't negate prior art, it just means that if two idiots come to the patent office at the same time instead of spending years trying to work out which idiot actually developed whatever it is first, they just give it to the idiot who submitted their paperwork first. If said idea has been published for the last 5 years by someone else it's still legally patent rejected just like it is now(at least in theory).

      If you've kept your idea secret and not p

    • by dabadab (126782)

      first to file supersedes first to invent

      I am again and again surprised by the inability of the Slashdot crowd to grasp such a simple concept as "first to file" and keeping spouting idiotic comments about it.
      If you think that "first to X" has anything to do with open source software, you failed to grasp it.

      Let me elaborate a little: this firstness only applies when two people/groups try to patent the very same thing at (roughly) the same time. Since open source authors generally do not patent anything, it d

  • by Anonymous Coward

    But is the software really better and did inovation come there first? Funny that he mentions Android with its share of "copy what the other guys have already done" + "typical performance issues -- why do i have a laggy UI with 4 cores..."

  • by hessian (467078) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:10PM (#41800433) Homepage Journal

    This is a good compilation of what otherwise was scattered data, and at a level of complexity that people can read quickly to grasp the history of Open Source software.

    I wish it had included one major source of free 1980s software, which was software written in BASIC and/or "poke assembler" (DATA statements from BASIC that were POKEd into the memory of your A2+ or C64). Much of this was designed to hack: war dialers, exchange hackers, copy programs, deprotectors, compressors, etc.

    While that may be a bit distracting as the uses were illegal, it's important to remember that at this time, finding software was difficult and with computers costing the equivalent of $5000 today, it was very hard to afford or find software. "Sharing" was how you explored the world.

    I wish machines had a universal language today, as the BASIC/assembler mix was back then. The closest I've found is Perl.

  • Probability of failure: I like the idea of OSS but if one thinks of it as a software development approach/methodology/philosophy, or whatever you want to call it, and would look at the big picture of success and failure cases one would have to draw a pretty bleak conclusion. It does not seem to work very well on average! Yes, every proponent of OSS will produce a nice list of some impressive OSS projects and certainly Android could be considered THE poster child of OSS. But for each successful OSS project t

    • by andrew3 (2250992)

      e.g., Android, are becoming fragmented in ways that are gradually turning into a problem for developers and ultimately for end users.

      I don't get this argument. How does having more Android OS create a problem for developers and end users?

      • How could the need to support many different hw/sw requirements be possibly an advantage? Testing alone becomes a nightmare. The percentage of users running the latest, unmodified, i.e., Google version, of version of Android is really small. As a developer you would have to emulate just about all these high and low end platforms. Good luck with that.
    • Yes, every proponent of OSS will produce a nice list of some impressive OSS projects and certainly Android could be considered THE poster child of OSS. But for each successful OSS project there are 10,000 dead or semi dead ones. Imagine any other field with these odds. Imagine for instance bridge design. If only one out of 10,000 bridges designed and implemented would be actually used or usable, that would be terrible.

      The analogy you've chosen doesn't make any sense. To extend it to match, you'd have to consider every pallet bridge, board-over-creek and fallen tree and see if they're serving their purpose reasonably well for the effort put into them. In that sense, your analogy fits, and using that analogy, most such "bridges" work very well in terms of utility for cost. To take it back to software, my company has produced a huge array of proprietary programs and products, and the majority of them don't sell for enou

    • This is where you get the wrong conclusion from the right facts. See the difference between software and bridges is that it costs a lot less to produce a software Proof-of-concept and if it fails then nobody drowns in the river.

      Those 10-thousand dead projects ? They aren't failures of OSS - they are the reason the rest is so successfull.
      FOSS allows you to cheaply market-test a PoC and continue development on those that meet real needs. That actually is a MUCH better way of doing it because we can test and e

    • All y'all with long replies need to just use the short reply for this that you use every time this argument comes along. We think that open source produces more failures because we get to see all of them. Closed source hides its failures that never see the light of day, because only a few engineers know they ever existed, and few if any people give a fuck so it's not really great conversation fodder.

  • by Smartcowboy (679871) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @09:47PM (#41800619)

    "open source software along with computers and technology as a whole has gone from the sidelines to a prevalent position in the lives of modern consumers."

    And stupid me though that the final goal of open source were to empower us by making us more than mere consumer. I tough that open source was about making us freeer human beings.

  • by hendrikboom (1001110) on Sunday October 28, 2012 @10:57PM (#41800909)

    Software was routinely distributed in source form by user groups for particular machine system way back in the 60's, when I started computing. No one complained if someone took some of that software and improved and changed it.

    It was like the garden of Eden before the Fall, which happened when people started selling software instead of giving it away.

    The FOSS licences became necessary after that.

    -- hendrik

    • by Paul Fernhout (109597) on Monday October 29, 2012 @01:24AM (#41801509) Homepage

      See also: http://www.leeandmelindavarian.com/Melinda/index.html [leeandmelindavarian.com]
      http://www.leeandmelindavarian.com/Melinda/neuvm.pdf [leeandmelindavarian.com]
      "The most important thing that IBM did to us was the announcement on February 8, 1983, of the Object Code Only (OCO) policy. I fear that ten years from now another speaker will be standing here telling you that that was the day VM died, but I hope not.
      Since that day in 1983, the community has devoted enormous effort to attempting to convince IBM’s management that the OCO decision was a mistake. Many, many people have contributed to this effort in SHARE and in the other user groups. The greatest of SHARE’s source heroes is unquestionably Gabe Goldberg, who has persevered and maintained hope and a sense of humor in the face of IBM’s seemingly implacable position. In SEAS, Hans Deckers has been a particularly hard worker in the battle against OCO, and Sverre Jarp, the SEAS Past President, also deserves much praise for his role.
      In February, 1985, the SHARE VM Group presented IBM with a White Paper that concluded with the sentence, “We hope that IBM will decide not to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.” Though we had tried to make our White Paper reasonable and business-like, IBM chose not to reply to it.
      A few months after the announcement of the OCO policy, IBM released the first OCO version of VM, VM/PC. VM/PC had a number of problems, including poor performance and incorrect or missing or incompatible function. Without source, the users were unable to correct or compensate for these problems, so nobody was surprised when VM/PC fell flat. ..."

      (Is that a picture of me talking to Kirk Alexander in front of an SGI Iris in the iCGL running some windowing and 3D model creation software I wrote? Not sure... Might be someone else and different software. What an amazing community back then and there -- one I did not appreciate enough at the time and just took for granted in my youth and lack of experience.)

      A key point made in Melinda Varian's history of the VM Community is that even though only a small percentage of users actually looked at and changed the source code (an argument IBM made as to why providing the source did not matter), those users were a very impotent driver of fixes and innovation. When I was contracting at IBM Research around 2000, there were IBMers still angry about that decision two decades earlier and how it went badly for IBM, and they helped create some of the pressure for IBM to support the Free and Open Source Software movement. I pushed to get Python formally approved for official use in IBM Research back then, which took a bit of doing to go through IBM Legal. They even (embarrassingly) wrote Guido to ask him if he really had written it.

      And:
      http://it.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=437640&cid=22255952 [slashdot.org]
      http://yuhongbao.blogspot.com/2010/06/artificial-scarcity-altair-basic-and.html [blogspot.com]
      "Interviewer: Is studying computer science the best way to prepare to be a programmer?
      Bill Gates: No. the best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating system. You got to be willing to read other people's code, then write your own, then have other people review your code. You've got to want to be in this incredible feedback loop where you get the world-class people to tell you what you're doing wrong."

      The web with plain-text distribution of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are often readable, have been a bit of a return to those earlier days when you often had to type in BAS

  • by nsharifi (2761671) on Monday October 29, 2012 @02:15AM (#41801661)
    The free and open source software world becomes more business oriented. This among other facts implies 1) more businesses/companies involvement; 2) adoption of permissive licenses (e.g. MIT License, Apache License) and hence integration of free software with proprietary counterparts; and 3) loosely-woven P2P software engineering practices. While the hobbyist and enthusiast culture of development will continue to exist, it is going to be controlled by companies and organizations.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    No one anticipated walled gardens being built from open source, or licenses in the 80s and 90s would have prevented them. Apple, Google, Amazon, and others have exploited open source to create walled gardens that deny the essential freedoms that open source is meant to preserve.

  • Just a thought. Could the reason for valve making a native linux client be a low-profile way to gradually enter the android platform? How much linux is android from a game standpoint? Either that, or they are contemplating a linux console.

    Or perhaps just that given that people with linux hasn't paid $300 for their operating system, perhaps they instead can put some money on a game?

    Anyway. It is a kind of interesting process: http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/linux/ [valvesoftware.com]

  • > Read below for the rest of what CowboyNeal has to say

    No thanks.

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