If you use a free and open source operating system, it's almost certainly based on the Linux kernel and GNU software. But these were not the first freely redistributable platforms, nor were they the most professional or widely commercialized. The Berkeley Software Distribution, or BSD, beat GNU/Linux on all of these counts. So why has BSD been consigned to the margins of the open source ecosystem, while GNU/Linux distributions rose to fantastic prominence? Read on for some historical perspective.
If you ask a lot of people why Linus Torvalds and the Linux kernel that he wrote became one of the most prominent open source projects of all time, while Richard Stallman's GNU project has received much less attention beyond hacker circles, they'll tell you the difference has to do with Stallman's excessive commitment to an uncompromising ideology. Is that really accurate?
Here's food for interesting thought: What if the Free Software Movement had built a replacement for what became Microsoft (MSFT) Windows, rather than an operating system that eventually became the one open source fans know today as GNU/Linux? Would Bill Gates still have ended up a billionaire, and Microsoft have imposed a monopoly on the PC world? Read on for some reflection on what might have been had a few things gone differently.
If Linux is so great, why has it not replaced Windows, OS X and other closed-source operating systems completely? More generally, why do people still write and develop proprietary software, if open source is a more efficient, user-oriented and secure way to code? Those are important questions about the big-picture significance and future of free and open source software, and they're worth thinking more about.
The latest version of Fedora, the Linux distribution that helps shape the features that make it into Red Hat's (RHT) open source platforms, is out this week, sporting updates in the realms of containerization, server databases, file storage and the GNOME desktop.
Open source fans have long had a rocky relationship with Microsoft. Everyone knows that. But, in many ways, the tension between Apple and supporters of free or open source software is even starker—even if it receives much less attention in the press. Why? Read on for some perspective.
In an age when Microsoft is floating the idea of open-sourcing even Windows, it's clear that open source has pretty much conquered the world of software—or the parts of it that matter, at least. But, in a lot of ways, the weight of open source is now extending into many other realms, defining how people interact and collaborate well beyond the context of computers.
Software licenses aren't very useful if no one adheres to them—and adhering to licenses gets tough quickly when you're dealing with complex supply chains of software whose numerous, ever-moving parts are licensed differently. That's why the Linux Foundation's Software Package Data Exchange (SPDX) working group has rolled out an updated specification designed to make open source licensing simpler.
It's time for more standards in the open source Linux containers world. So says Red Hat (RHT), which has published a call for developers of containerization platforms, such as Docker, to adopt a standardized approach to building, packaging and distributing container-based apps.
One of the most puzzling questions about the history of free and open source is this: Why did Linux succeed so spectacularly, whereas similar attempts to build a free or open source, Unix-like operating system kernel met with considerably less success? I don't know the answer to that question. But I have rounded up some theories, which I'd like to lay out here.
What inspires open source programmers, defines their culture and sets the open source world apart from that of proprietary software development? That's an important question for understanding what drives the creation of monumental platforms such as Linux, OpenStack and Hadoop.
Red Hat (RHT) has rolled out the latest version of software tools to assist open source developers and administrators. Designed to complement the company's flagship product, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), the tools include the newest stable releases of many popular open source software packages.
A couple of weeks ago, I made the case that, in the early days of Linux, most of the momentum behind the open source operating system revolved around building a Unix-like system that could run on personal computers and would be free, as in cost no money. The enthusiasm about freely shared code came later.
Times appear to be tough for the development team behind Apache OpenOffice, the open source office productivity suite that is popular on Linux, and runs on Windows and OS X as well. They're so tough, in fact, that some observers are questioning whether the project will soon fold.