20th Anniversary of "Open Source"

Author: Shazin Sadakath


Almost twenty years ago inside the corporate board rooms in the Silicon Valley a battle was taking place between Microsoft and Netscape. This battle was about Netscape Communicator, a web browser that was competing with the infamous Microsoft Internet Explorer. Microsoft being a giant during the time didn't take this competition well and wanted to get rid of Netscape's alternative and was pouring a lot of money to reach its target. Which meant Netscape being a small company trying to get off the ground couldn't keep on running thus Netscape was on the brink of bankruptcy. That is when Netscape made its historic decision that would change the way Software is used, modified, sold forever.

Netscape announced that it would release all the source code for Netscape Communicator for the public so that anyone can do anything with it. This enabled hackers, tinkerers and the curious a way to use software that is never been possible before. But during that time there was no name for this kind of software and no one knew how to call it. Software developers and advocates after discussing with Netscape also finally knew what name should it have.

Thus the term "Open Source" was born twenty years ago. Shortly after the Open Source Initiative was also born headed by Bruce Perens who wrote the Free Software Guidelines for the Debian Linux distro to serve as the official Open Source Definition. After the decades following this, the Free and Open Source (FOSS) Softwares became so intertwined with the lives of people in the form of Office Libre, GIMP, Inkscape, etc which are popular Free and Open Source alternatives for Paid Proprietary software available in the market. Not only fully fledged Software, frameworks such as Spring, Struts, Hibernate, ElectronOS, NodeJS, etc. all have adopted this Open Source model and succeeded.

Furthermore Open Source is now even has its root in Android enabled devices which has the highest market share for Mobile Operating System and used by many famous manufacturers like Samsung, HTC, etc. Open Source software enabled and fostered a new generation of Open Source hardware platforms ranging from Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc. which in turn run Open Source software and complement each other.

Netscape is now called Mozilla and offers an array of software which enables internet connectivity from Firefox to Thunderbird and many more and is a successful competitor in the Open Source landscape. Whereas Microsoft lately which struggled to compete with ever increasing number of Open Source counterparts has now changed its strategy a bit and has created Open Source software such as Microsoft VSCode.

It is obvious that Open Source has succeeded leaps and bounds and here to stay. Let's celebrate the 20th Anniversary of it with pride and gratitude.



Tags: OpenSource Netscape Mozilla Microsoft
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