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"The Year of Open Source" -- who needs it?

 
 
Lawrence D'Oliveiro
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      10-21-2005
I remember back in the late 1980s, as PCs were becoming wildly popular, the
whole Local Area Network market was just getting started. Vendors of LAN
hardware and software (of which there was a wide variety back then) kept
proclaiming that the coming year would be the "Year of the LAN", when
networking products would *really* take off. Would 1987 be the Year of the
LAN? Nope. OK, maybe 1988? Nope...

So the "Year of the LAN" never happened--there was no sudden explosion of
interest. Yet today, LAN support is ubiquitous--every PC you buy has
built-in Ethernet, and every self-respecting OS includes full networking
support, not just on a LAN but right across the Internet. What happened
was, the products continued to sell at a steady pace, below everyone's
trend-detecting radar, until they became commonplace and no longer worthy
of special comment.

Now I think the same sort of thing is happening with Open-Source. People
continue to express scepticism about whether Linux is "ready for the
desktop", even as it continues to grow at a steady, undramatic, even
boring, rate. Then one day you wake up and realize it's everywhere.

Here's an example
<http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/10/21/opensource_government/> of how
that sort of thing is already happening: large numbers of folks are already
depending heavily on Open-Source software, without even realizing it. They
didn't notice it because it just went in and did the job without any
fuss--it "just worked".
 
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