State of Open Source Message

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Bruce Perens is one of the Grand Old Men of free software. To celebrate the tenth anniversary of open source, he has published his State of Open Source Message:

On February 9, 1998, I published the Open Source Definition and the public announcement of the Open Source Initiative that Eric Raymond and I were starting. This was the first time that the general public heard what Open Source was about. Friday, February 8 is the last day of Decade Zero of Open Source. Saturday, February 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 :-)

In it, he provides a neat summary of where open source is today, and what the main challenges are:

Microsoft remains a problem, as the bastion of the old way of thinking about software, and as the epitome of the old school of dirty corporate fighting. Their current strategy seems to be to poison us with money, most recently by making patent agreements with a number of Linux distributions. These agreements go against the spirit of the software licenses used by our developers, and were perhaps intended to dissuade developers from contributing their work. To this end, Microsoft poured more money into Novell last year than Novell's annual profit - indeed Novell would have had no annual profit without Microsoft.

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Some see the potential purchase of Yahoo by Microsoft as a threat. Certainly it might curtail or corrupt some of Yahoo's involvements in Open Source communities, and in half-Open-Source products like Zimbra. But a buy-the-loser strategy could potentially suck up a large part of Microsoft's unpleasantly (to us) ample cash while leaving them with the loser. Most threatening in an increase of Microsoft's influence in the content business would be the entrance of DRM into conventional web pages. Goodbye "view source", printing without a fee, and Firefox if Microsoft is ever successful with that. It wouldn't surprise me if Microsoft were to make more plays in the content market, perhaps investing in music and film companies.

Well worth reading.

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