Memoirs of a Free / Open Source Software Veteran

In 2011, Marc Andreesen published an essay on “Why software is eating the world” in which he explained that more and more services we consume consist almost entirely of software.

A cartoon titled “Vintage Social Networking” published by Wrong Hands in 2013 shows how our Rolodex has been replaced by LinkedIn, our phone by Skype, our friend list by Facebook, and so on.

This didn’t happen overnight. It happened –and it’s still happening– almost unnoticed, and it could very well be an irreversible process.

In his book “The New Kingmakers”, Stephen O’Grady explores four factors that allowed companies such as “the FANG of four” to disrupt existing industries and to become billion dollar companies. Note that the acronym FANG refers to Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, and Google (now officially called Alphabet).

These four factors are:

Since 2007, the open source consultancy company Black Duck Software, and the Boston-based venture capital firm North Bridge Venture Partners, conduct a yearly survey titled “The Future of Open Source.” After the 2013 edition, Michael Skok, at that time general partner at North Bridge, made the following conclusion: “It's been recognized that software is eating the world; our survey points to the fact that open source is eating the software world.

The 2016 survey revealed that open source is ubiquitous. When asked for the reasons for using open source, the top answers given by the companies that were surveyed included:

  1. to speed up application development (at more than 65% of the companies), and

  2. for production infrastructure (at more than 55% of the companies).

However, the most recent survey also reveals that nearly half of these companies have no formal policy for selecting and approving open source code, while nearly half of the companies who do have policies, either don’t enforce them, or the policies can be bypassed. Obviously, there’s still a lot of work to be done in the field of open source software compliance.

Once one realizes that open source software is eating the world, it’s important to understand the impact of this evolution, especially from a legal point of view. It is my goal to write a series of articles that

These articles should help you understand why open source is important for you, and how you can use open source software correctly.


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