Open Source's First Six Months

If anybody had suggested to me then that the paper was going to motivate something like the Netscape source release, I would have wondered what they'd been smoking.
We're winning!

Yes, we're winning. We're on a roll. The Linux user base is doubling every year. The big software vendors are being forced to take notice by their customers. Datapro even says Linux gets the best overall satisfaction ratings from managers and directors of information systems in large organizations. I guess that means not all of them are pointy-haired bosses.

The explosive growth of the Internet and the staggering complexity of modern software development have clearly revealed the fatal weaknesses of the closed source model. The people who get paid big bucks to worry about these things for Fortune 500 companies have understood for awhile that something is deeply wrong with the conventional development process. They've seen the problem become acute as the complexity of software requirements has escalated, but they've been unable to imagine any alternative.

We are offering an alternative. I believe this is why the Open Source campaign has been able to make such remarkable progress in changing the terms of debate over the last few months. It's because we're moving into a conceptual vacuum with a simple but powerful demonstration—that hierarchy, closure and secrecy are weak, losing strategies in a complex and rapidly changing environment. The rising complexity of software requirements has reached a level such that only open source and peer review have any hope of being effective tactics in the future.

The article in The Economist was titled “Revenge of the Hackers”, and that's appropriate—because we are now remaking the software industry in the image of the hacker culture. We are proving every day that we are the people with the drive and vision to lead the software industry into the next century.

Eric S. Raymond can be reached at esr@thyrsus.com.

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