This talk tries to give a comprehensive overview of free and open source software. The talk is framed in terms of a historical narrative but the focus, in terms of content, tries to focus on the concepts, principles, projects, and people at the heart of free and open source software.
My background is in work on free software projects over 17 years(!) in a variety of projects:
- RMS Printer story / MIT AI Lab (familiar to many people)
- Emacs Software Sharing Commune
- Free software was a reclaimist movement for freedom
- Free Software Definition
- Free Software Foundation
- Strong orientation as social movement
- Free software people are not always great at conveying this, but free software can be understand as a powerful call for user control over their own technology
- GNU Project and the creation of a replacement for UNIX
Moving Beyond GNU
- BSDs, Minix, and the GNU HURD
- X and early struggles with commercialization and openness: permissive versus copyleft licensing
- Linus Torvalds and Linux
- Apache web server
- Open Source is born of frustration with free software personality and its posture with business interests and the late 90s tech bubble and the DotCom boom
- Open Source Initiative started by Eric Raymond (author of Cathedral and the Bazaar), Bruce Perens and others
- Open Source Definition
- Motivations emphasizing the pragmatic benefits of fee software
- OS can be seen as a development methodology
- "A inherently better way to produce better software"
- "Opposite of a schism"
Going Mainstream (ups and downs)
- Perhaps the major breakthrough was with Netscape releasing code to their browser in 1998
- Many other companies ended up getting carried away in the boom (VA Linux (LNUX has single biggest IPO) (Krantz and Henry, 1999)
- Dotcom Bust
- Reemergence of people who care about liberty and freedom (or institutional independence and autonomy)
- Social movements again
- Governments in Europe/S. America/etc.
Adapting FOSS Principles
- Many groups have been explicitly inspired and have created lots of other "open source blanks" (e.g., medicine, invention, literature, music, etc).
- Most groups take inspiration from:
- Massively parallel production
- Large volunteer communities
- High levels of "user innovation" and lead users
- Most buildings on licenses (esp. copyleft) of FOSS but it's important to realize that these are instrumental in some cases, making mroe normatively sort of descriptions and calls for free things
- Network services produce a number of important challenges related to data and deep problems associated with shared ownership of a shared resources (free software is actually deeply troubled)
- Software Patenting
- New business models
- MySQL, dual mode system