How long has open source been part of your life?

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(4 votes)
How long have you been interested in open source?
I was in the room when "open source" was coined
0.3% (2 votes)
15+ years
25.3% (190 votes)
10-15 years
27.7% (208 votes)
5-10 years
23.7% (178 votes)
1-5 years
18% (135 votes)
Less than a year
5.2% (39 votes)

It seems that open source and the principles that comprise the open source way are here to stay. While I wasn't in the room when the term open source was coined in 1998, I do know some of the visionaries that developed the early strategy and advocated for the open development model.

Do you remember when you got involved with open source? Were you scratching an itch, attracted to the features of a project, or was it the commuity that wooed you over to open source? Share your story below after you take our poll.

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15 Comments

holmja's picture
Open Source Champion

I can't say that my open source story is as interesting as the (as I write this) 35% of respondents who were in the room when the term "open source" was coined, but I've been using what we now call open source software since before the term was coined. Back in 1996, I started experimenting with different OSes. I bought OS/2 Warp 4 when it came out, and then, very shortly after, bought one of the Red Hat Linux retail box sets (it was for one of the 4.X releases, but I can't remember which one exactly.) I've been using Linux ever since. During college (1998-2002), I bought the complete collection of distros from cheapbytes.com every 6 months or so, and played around with all of them. In grad school (2003-2004) I bounced between the early releases of Fedora Core and Slackware (plus Knoppix as a live cd). Nowadays, I use Fedora as my main OS with two Debian virtual machines (one for Koha and one for Evergreen) and a CentOS virtual machine as a development web server. Using open source software lets me do the things that I want, but I'm just a user and advocate (who occasionally submits bug reports and very minor fixes.) I'm sure other people have much more interesting stories to share.

carlopiana's picture
Open Minded

I also come from an OS/2 Warp (and MS-DOS earlier) background. Started trying a Red Hat of sorts around 1998 and then got serious in 2000 with a Mandrake. Then moved to Suse (6-something), then Ubuntu when Novell sold its soul to Microsoft, leaving us out in the cold in the Microsoft v. Commission litigation. Started managing a Debian as an Internet server around 2005. Still have Ubuntu everywhere and beyond, including in my last (not latest, last) Apple purchase, an iMac 22", now 4 years old I think.

Carlo Piana
Milano

robinmuilwijk's picture
Open Source Sensei

Closing in on 10 years (Oct. 2013), so relatively new compared to others. Mainly in open source projects such as Joomla and eZ Publish, both CMS's, but also smaller projects. Details can be read in this months contributor spotlight.

jhibbets's picture
Open Source Sensei

I think we have more votes for "people in the room when 'open source' was coined" then there were actual people in the room. What's up with that? Maybe I need to have more polls with fun and punchy answer choices?

Jason

Freedom OSS's picture

A die hard open source advocate giving free Ubuntu CDs to non-profit organization, schools and small businesses.
Started using Red Hat distro in 1999 and had tried other distros as well.
Currently working in a government institution that doesn't have an open source policy and keep on evangelizing to technical managers to try using open source software.

shieldfire's picture

Oh, I've been around - if not regularly on my home computer - since Red Hat 4.2 or some such. Running Linux exclusive at home to start with, but eventually giving it up to be able to run my on-line game without too much hassle.

At work we ran our own DNS and Qmail servers as well as Apache on Debian. Eventually we've standardized on Microsoft while keeping the Apache server for non-integrated services.

And now I'm back to Fedora on my laptop =)

Saleem's picture

I started using Open Source / Free Software to free my self from piracy. One day, I think in 2002, I saw an ad on TV 'piracy is theft' and wowed to not use pirated software as much as possible. So, by 2004, the only pirated software on my computer was Windows XP. After that, it was just logical to switch to Linux, and I fully switched to Ubuntu in 2007.

ZuluK's picture

I started using Linux with Caldera 1.0 and was very impressed with the modified desktop they used. I believe it was an early version of FVWM.
From there I went through nearly all the available distro's of the time, Red Hat 4.xx, Suse 6.xx, Mandrake 6.xx Etc.
I learned a lot along the way and now use PCLos as my main OS.
I was a Windows fan-boy at the time as I had a computer store and installed Windows on all the systems I built. However as MS started dumbing everything down I used Linux more and more. Now I'm happy to say that 99.9% of all my computing is on Linux.

Benji's picture

It must have been a big room. Maybe many people want to show that they were using 'open source' type software before the term was coined.

Public domain software is an example that was 'alive' many years before 1998, at least way into the early home computers (back in the 80s).

Karl Fogel's picture

21 years, but more importantly: your poll cuts the time period too short :-). Remember that open source existed long before anyone used the term "open source" to describe it. The term "free software" predates "open source", but it was well-understood even then that there was a Thing going on that existed independently of terminology (one clue: many people were actively searching for less ambiguous term than "free software" in the 1990s -- remember "sourceware", anyone? -- and "open source" happened to be the one that succeeded).

There was plenty of commercial activity in open source before the term "open source" too. To name a couple: Cygnus Solutions, which was later bought by Red Hat, which itself was started before the term "open source" was coined.

Bottom line: the thing wasn't invented with the term. The term was coined to describe something that already existed.

kfogel's picture
Open Enthusiast

21 years, but more importantly: your poll cuts the time period too short :-). Remember that open source existed long before anyone used the term "open source" to describe it. The term "free software" predates "open source", but it was well-understood even then that there was a Thing going on that existed independently of terminology (one clue: many people were actively searching for less ambiguous term than "free software" in the 1990s -- remember "sourceware", anyone? -- and "open source" happened to be the one that succeeded).

There was plenty of commercial activity in open source before the term "open source" too. To name a couple: Cygnus Solutions, which was later bought by Red Hat, which itself was started before the term "open source" was coined.

Bottom line: the thing wasn't invented with the term. The term was coined to describe something that already existed.

[sorry for the apparent double comment -- the login flow didn't work the way I thought it was working; feel free to delete the earlier one]

craigharffey's picture
Open Source Evangelist

Since '97, when I installed Slackware to further my unix knowledge for transition to new role as junior Solaris sysadmin from NT4 and never looked back. Many years of management have not dulled my interest though and use open tools for my business.

jhibbets's picture
Open Source Sensei

FYI - Looks like we have a bot hitting the poll, voting on the first option. For those that know your open source history, there were only like five people in the room and a few others on the phone when the term "open source" was coined.

Gaurav gaur's picture

Is like include all feature in open source OS then much better to Windows OS.
Because i m use open source OS like REDHAT OR UBANTU,Centos as extra.
We are use multiple server with high level security.

One day it will made most usefull OS.

dgrb's picture

I was using GNU Emacs in 1989, while working as a developer in Toronto.

Later that years I moved out west. In 1991 I started teaching at college and, despairing of the DEC editor on the VMS system the college had, got GNU Emacs running on the VAX.

In 1993 when I finally got hold of a 386 in my office installed SLS (Soft Landing System) with kernel 0.99pl12 (IIRC) and have never looked back.

Everybox in our house (including router and video streamer, all three of my laptops, desktop, my wife's desktop) runs some version of linux.

My wife likes mint, which I also use, although I tend to distro hop, to give my students something to ogle at in class - I'm rather taken with PearOS just now.