Open Source at 20: The Ubiquity of Shared Code


“Why is open source important? That’s like asking why is gravity important,” stated Brian Behlendorf, a leading figure in the open-source software movement, and executive director for the blockchain consortium Hyperledger.

While this year marks the 20th anniversary of open source, it is hard to imagine a time before open-source software. Today, it’s difficult to find a solution or piece of software that was created without some open-source components….

Behlendorf recalls first being attracted to the open-source space because he didn’t really trust his own coding abilities, and the idea that there were other developers out there willing to read his code and help him fix it was a “godsend.” “For many people who became programmers after the ‘90s, working publicly, pulling down open-source code, sharing improvements back if you made any or even taking your work and releasing it pubilicy became the default. It was what was expected,” he said.

However, being able to share and collaborate openly on software wasn’t always possible. OSI’s vice president VM Brasseur describes the early days as the “wild west” where programmers were building tools for programmers, driven by the philosophical belief that “sharing is good and right.”

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