Part 2: So Where did Open Source Come From Anyway?

Last time we determined how the concept of Open Source developed in the 1960’s. Even though the early programmers didn’t know it, they were the unknowing pioneers of the Open Source Initiative (OSI) that brought us such goodies as Firefox …”Ray don’t forget the Web of Trust,”…Yes, Bo, that too…I’ll tell ya’ I’m not sure what it is about the word “Firefox” that causes all these interruptions. It’s almost like the secret word of the day from Pee Wee’s Playhouse…umm…anyway…there’s also Google, and, as we’ll see in a bit, much, much more. We also determined that the Open Source Initiative was the catalyst that drove businesses – namely Microsoft (MS) to view software as a product that could be sold. Finally, we cruised into the 70’s where we witnessed Bill Gates’ mellow harshing “line in the sand“; that appeared to close the door on the whole Open Source concept, but instead defined it. Today, our journey takes us into the 1980’s where we’ll witness, when and where Open Source was actually born….and as promised I have the Delorian looking smoother than Abby from NCIS’ back side…but if you think you’re getting in this ride with those retarded Devo, 8 bit, flower pot hats on your smoking’ dope….SIKE…I’m just bagging’ on you homefry…you know those hats is the gnarliest….let’s jet….

Our journey begins in 1980’s Massachusetts when Richard Stallman, a renowned programmer at MIT, was denied access to the source code of a new laser printer that replaced the old printer that Stallman had written a ton of code for (i.e. error messages sent to all logged in users, print job statuses, etc.) this proved to be supreme hemorrhoid (pain in the @$$) to Stallman, because the printer was on a different floor than the majority of its users. This incident solidified Stallman’s view that everyone should have the right to inspect and modify software. His argument was that users should be allowed to study and make changes to the software that they routinely use, and share these changes with their colleagues. Stallman viewed companies that made their software proprietary, (exclusive) …ahem… Microsoft… ahem…hmnmrmm… Apple… sorry must have something in my throat…as unethical and who commit acts of antisocial behavior. As a side note, while we are on the subject, let me clear up a common misconception; especially with the Linux/GNU hipsters…btw…what is it with you all, black rimmed glasses (when you have 20/20 vision), and Skinny Jeans?! Just curious…anyway…the quote “Software wants to be free” IS NOT from Stallman…so stop saying that!!! Stallman himself denied this saying this freedom is NOT, “for pragmatic reasons, such as, developing superior software, but from a moral and social value for the user instead”…whew I feel better having cleared that up…now, let’s move on.

In September 1983 Stallman utilized ARPANET (the core network that later became the Internet) to announce his plan for the GNU (a recursive acronym for “GNU’s Not Unix”) Operating System (OS). The plan for the GNU OS was to be a complete UNIX compatible OS comprised entirely of free software. Soon thereafter (1986) Stallman launched the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a non-profit corporation whose mission was to equip programmers with free software and provide legal protection to the free software movement. Finally, in 1989 the first version of the GNU General Public License (GPL) was created. Stallman’s, seemingly unfathomable, plans for the industry’s systems to have free software were starting to take shape. Stallman had provided most of the tools required to accomplish this epic task; most notably a kernel, called GNU Hurd.

Stallman had tremendous influence among college students; although, one student in particular; upon hearing one of Stallman’s lectures at Helsinki in 1991 bought all into the concept. This student went by the name of Linus Torvalds, and with help via the internet used the GPL to begin the project that inevitably became the Linux kernel. It began as, basically, a terminal emulation machine Linus utilized to access the UNIX servers at the University; then in 1992, set out to create a fully operation Linux OS using GNU components. Linux has become a staple in the open source community, providing the framework for such software powerhouses as Firefox…SECRET WORD!!!! AHHHHHHHHHH….ahem…Open Office, Ubuntu, GIMP, the only Web Server you should EVER use to host your site; Apache, and many, many, many, many more. Also, I’ll bet there are some organizations that use Linux that you might not expect; namely, virtually every level of our very own US Government, including: The Department of Defense (DoD), the US Navy Submarine Fleet, the Federal Aviation Administration, the US Federal Courts and The US Postal Service. Linux is also used in the business enterprise almost exclusively as well by the likes of Google, IBM, Panasonic, Cisco, Amazon, The New York Stock Exchange, Toyota, Sony, and more…hmmm…is it just me or does it seem like Microsoft doesn’t have the enterprise network as nailed down as they say? It may seem that way, but don’t be fooled, Linux is used mainly to run Web servers, and routing protocols. Windows still chimes in there with Active Directory so don’t boycott MS entirely.

Then there are a couple of very interesting companies that use Linux to some degree; so interesting, in fact, that they deserve their own paragraph. In an act that is a clear definition of ironic; Microsoft and Apple both have/do utilize Linux to some degree (the very thing they attack fiercely in the public domain). Now if that don’t make you want to roll yourself in meal and call yourself a corn dog, I don’t know what will…think about it. In 2003 MS changed its DNS servers so that requests for Microsoft.com were cached using a Linux product to protect their servers from Denial of Service (DoS) Attacks, and didn’t start using their own IIS until after Server 8 and IIS 7.5. So, those of you out there that use Microsoft’s web server IIS; because it’s “more secure” than the Open Source Apache, you may want to at least question why Microsoft themselves didn’t even use their own web server for nearly a decade! Keep in mind MS knows OS’s NOT Web servers…just something to consider…..what?! You don’t believe me?!? You cut me real deep just now….have I led you astray yet? You really need to get those trust issues worked out…seriously…thankfully I have thick skin and feelings that are as locked down as that stubborn turd that killed Elvis (yeah grunted himself to death….look it up)…. and while you’re at it look up MS using Linux.

The fact that Apple uses ANY open source software is as preposterous as Whoopi “it’s not rape rape” Goldberg’s degenerate justification of Roman Polanski’s grossly perverted run in with that poor 13 year old girl. Don’t get me wrong I am all for Apple’s iDevices; there are truly none that compare, in my opinion. My issue with Apple is they are known to be stingy with their code, and all the while using a hidden BSD (Open Source) command line in the CORE of their Mac’s OSx system. More specifically, Apple uses a Mach kernel with a BSD underlining; which is simply a churched up way to say they have some OSS stashed (hidden) in their infrastructure even though they don’t even necessarily need it there. I’m just saying, “Apple if you’re gonna lock your stuff down like you do…then do it all the way…oh wait you can’t…Ha-ha…Apple’s Safari also uses copious amounts of open source to underpin its web browser…what about them Apple’s? Okay, that’s really all I have to say about Apple…Nice Devices…shady business practices. Most recently – and more positively, Open Source has entered the mobile market, with Nokia (Symbian Foundation) and Google (Android) ushering in the mobile technology platforms using open source technology. This is, one of the many reasons, why Open Source is so important, it is the foundation for web 2.0 and the smart phone’s abilities to interact with the cloud. This has led into an entire suite of open source programs that are very powerful, and usually free, alternatives to some of the pricier software we use today.

So you see Open Source has been around since the early programmers of the 60’s. It has fueled the innovations that we enjoy today, used by the proprietary software companies for their security, and even used in the systems that protect our country. Yet, there are still a lot of skeptics out there that believe; because the code is open it is somehow less secure. While that may be true for a minute portion of the OSS population, I hope after reading this series you now see that OSS is the very thing that fuels the advancement of technology as a whole.

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