29 July 2006

Open Source Evo-Devo

In the early days of free software in business - say ten years ago - there was a natural tendency to think of it as a monolithic entity. But rather as chromatography can be used to separate out the constituent parts of an apparently uniform blob, so time gradually teases out the different elements that go to make up the rich and complex world of open source.

Thus we have projects like Apache and GNU/Linux, which are so much a part the mainstream now that it probably hard for most people to imagine that they were never part of it. Then there are the projects like MySQL and JBoss that are fast establishing themselves as second-generation leaders. Finally there is the new wave - the SugarCRMs, the JasperSofts and Alfrescos - that are coming through fast.

I found a nice representation of this evo-devo in a post on Matt Asay's blog, where it is attributed to Robin Vasan. I'm afraid I've never heard of him (I obviously lead a sheltered life), but I see from his bio that he's involved with Alfresco, as Matt is, so this is obviously the connection.

Aside from the graphic - which diverges in detail from my view of things, but is broadly the same - Matt's post contains several other interesting slides (and ideas) from his recent presentation at OSCON 2006. It's well worth taking a look at.

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