Things change. Next week, InfoWorld gets a new look with fewer columns, not including this one.
A lot has happened with open source in the year and a half that I've written this column. When I started, there were lots of people in the IT world who knew little or nothing about open source. There was a lot of suspicion about its validity in business. And there was widespread skepticism about its suitability for the desktop.
Today, much has changed. Many more IT people have at least a basic understanding of what open source is. Many businesses now routinely evaluate open-source software alongside closed-source products as part of their search for business solutions. And no one laughs about open-source desktops anymore — especially not the organizations currently testing the solution.
Is my commentary responsible for the major shift in business opinion regarding open source? Of course not. But hopefully I've helped things along in some small way.
Some things have changed for the better, such as the fact that many Wall Street companies are now actively using, enhancing, and giving back code to open-source projects. And major IT vendors — with one notable exception — have realized that Linux solutions are a necessary part of their product mix.
Other things have changed for the worse, such as the use of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) as a hammer to destroy competition and as a trap to ensnare consumers in the wishes and whims of a few vendors. Many organizations are being threatened by expensive licensing audits — being told to prove their innocence even though there is no evidence suggesting they are guilty of piracy. But even these negative changes are encouraging IT organizations to look at open-source solutions, which don't place such heavy burdens on the consumer.
I've been thinking recently about all the e-mail I've received in response to past columns. For example, last year I undertook a project to build a PVR (personal video recorder) using Linux to illustrate how open source can be used to quickly and inexpensively create a customized solution. The column that resulted from that project ended up generating more e-mail than any column I've ever written. At least 150 of those e-mails asked the same basic question, Where can I get more information about this? I'm sure that mentioning it again will generate at least a few more queries, so let me direct you to my project page at http://linuxprofessionalsolutions.com/pavlicek/tv.html.
I can honestly say that I've enjoyed writing the columns and hearing from readers during these past months. Folks, it's been a blast.
Let me leave you with one last bit of information. If you want to learn a bit more about the early history of open source, check out the documentary "Revolution OS," now available on DVD (www.revolution-os.com). True to the spirit of open source, the 2-year-old documentary has been released without CSS (Contents Scramble System) or region encoding, so it can be legally viewed on Linux machines in the