January 12th, 2018

20 years on, open source hasn’t changed the world as promised

Java App Dev, Open Source, others, Programing, by admin.

Open source has officially been a thing for 20 years now. Did anyone notice?

No, really. For something as revolutionary as open source, you’d think it would have changed the way all software is developed, sold, and distributed. Unfortunately for those party planners looking to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of open source, it hasn’t—changed software, that is. For most developers, most of the time, software remains stubbornly proprietary.

What has changed in 20 years is the narrative about software. We’re now comfortable with the idea that software can, and maybe should, be open source without the world ending. The actual opening of that source, however, is something to tackle in the next 20 years.

Open source has won infrastructure but not software

Back in 1999 Eric Raymond argued that 95 percent of software is written for use, not sale, and therefore could and should be open source. But it’s not; nearly all of that code remains closed today.

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