At Year-End, Open Sourcers Have Lots to Celebrate

by Ostatic Staff - Dec. 28, 2010

The year 2010 was a seminal one for open source, which once conjured up--at least for the uneducated--images of troll-like, cave-dwelling developers who eschewed all popular software standards. Open source is everywhere as 2010 draws to a close, and we've already weighed in with our assessment of the four biggest open source events of this year. Some of the best analysts on the open source scene are also weighing in, including putting some metrics on the number of open source projects and general open source adoption. The results are eye-opening.

InfoWorld's Peter Wayner notes that there are now 1.49 million projects on GitHub and SourceForge gets 2 million downloads a day. That's a lot of burgers served! Wayner also points to some sad after-effects of the consolidation of open source-focused companies that happened this year, with Novell and Sun Microsystems being swallowed up by large companies. He notes that Oracle OpenOffice--including so many lines of open source code and inherited by Oracle from Sun--sells for $49.95, and he writes: 

"Whereas early open source advocates suggested that open source companies could pay the bills by distributing the same features to both products and getting people to pay for support and training, more and more products are withholding some secret sauce. This doesn't mean the community version suffers, but it is increasingly being used as a gateway drug to get the programmers addicted to the enterprise version."

Indeed, we've also taken note of the new kinds of mixes that are showing up as large software companies dablle in existing open source projects or take them over entirely. We've also noted that Android's success was one of the biggest open source stories of the year, and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols extends that idea to the general concept that "Linux went everywhere:" 

"Android is indeed Linux, as is so many other devices and Web services and sites. Open-source developers have just gotten very good at hiding the dirty technical details from you. It just took them a lot longer than it did for the Mac OS X designers to hide its Mach, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD Unix roots from users. In the last few years though, they finally got the hang of it. We’re going to see this trend grow only stronger in 2011 with the rise of Google’s Linux-based Chrome OS."

It's funny how a new name for an existing thing can befuddle people. Android and Chrome OS are both Linux-based, and the team at Canonical, behind Ubuntu, helped develop Chrome OS. Especially on the Android front, Linux pursued promising new frontiers this year.

As 2011 begins, there will be extensions of all these concepts, but new projects and new successes too. Open source is, without a doubt, here to stay on the technology scene.