Friday, August 26, 2011

Let's call it a revolution or just evolution

20 years ago on 25th of August, 1991 a student in Finland posted a message in an Internet newsgroup about a hobby software project he'd been working on. Among other things he mentioned,
...just a hobby, won't be big and professional... ...and it probably never will support anything other than AT-harddisks...

History went a long way to prove that guy wrong, and in the process so many others as well.

Exactly 20 years later to the hour, I'm sitting in front of a computer powered by the same software, writing this post about what Linus Benedict Torvalds was writing about back then: Linux.

This post will reach you dear reader, after going through numerous services, servers, routers and many other technological gadgetry powered by the very same software. It is also quite possible that you might be reading this on a gadget (computer, mobile phone, reader, etc.) powered by the same software. And at the moment when you read this post Linux will be silently powering things from wrist watches, refrigerators to nuclear submarines and super computers. It will also be powering the most of the Internet among other things. Today Linux is silent, powerful and ubiquitous. Today my friend, Linux has won. It has been the foundation stone of a greater change for better in the course of our civilization.

The Free & Open Source Software (FOSS) movement is in full flow. Individuals and companies enjoying the benefits of successful FOSS projects like Linux, Apache, Firefox, etc. are starting to think of it as a part of life, a way of thinking. As I type this, somewhere out there is a new computer user learning computer basics, a hacker coding the next big thing; FOSS eco system is ever evolving and developing. As we all reap the benefits of the technological advancements and software freedom, we also take that inspirations to other fields and disciplines. We debate, we write code, we make sure that humankind is not condemned to keep re-inventing the proverbial wheel. And this is why Linux and its success, as big as it is, is still bigger than Linux itself.

Yes mates, while you read this post Linux is making friends for you in Facebook, Twitter and other social media services, it's making clouds for you on Amazon, Rackspace and other places, it's showing off your photos in Picasa, Flickr and others, it's hosting your code in GitHub, SourceForge and elsewhere, it's delivering your email with Gmail, Yahoo and other places, it's running your businesses, small ones to multi-billion dollar enterprises, it's making phone calls for you, it's playing your TVs, it's washing your cloths, and way more things I can possibly fit in to a book let alone a meagre blogpost. The best thing about Linux though in my opinion is none of the above. That wonderful thing is, who makes Linux work. The community; it's that person, the other one, everyone else, us,... yes, you and me.

During the span of two decades a revolution has been happening. When some change happens over that kind of a time period we could rather call it evolution than revolution. Whatever you call it, aren't you glad you are part of it?

You go, Linux!

PS: I consider myself privileged to be a part of the Linux (& FOSS) community for about 10 years. My years with Linux were long and fruitful. I found a living, learned a lot, not just technical things. It generally made me a better person. In short, I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and I plan to continue doing so for years to come.