History of Open Source Software

OSS History

This is not just a software but a movement to collaborate, share and enhance software. The philosophy behind is that software shouldn’t be under the ownership of a single entity but treated as a common good. The movement was started by Richard Stallman as the GNU Project in 1983 as a free software. He wanted programmers to freely share codes to learn, reverse engineer, modify or improve. The term ‘free’ meant free as in freedom and not cost but it still caused confusion among the community. Later on the term ‘open’ was used to describe the freedom to use and modify the software by Christine Peterson and since then the term has stick.

The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), which was the forerunner of the internet as we see it today. In early 1950’s ARPANET’s engineers and researchers relied on community collaboration, peer reviews and open forums for discussion and collaboration. This paved the way for open source software ideology i.e. software is common good and should be freely shared with anyone interested.

Advanced Research Projects Agency Network
Linux penguin

In 1990 Linus Torvalds, laid foundation for his own PC-based version of UNIX, termed Linux. It smashed the monopoly of Microsoft as many companies and start-ups turned to Linux as an affordable alternative to Windows with source code readily available for modification.

One such company was Red Hat, created back in 1993, revolutionized the operating system with their own version of Linux. Today they are providing operating system platform, storage, middleware and everything in between.


After decades of the birth of free and open source movement, it can be seen everywhere; in government departments, private companies, latest start-ups, homes and even space. According to a survery, about 97% of businesses in UK are using some form of open-source software. Even heed core proprietary companies are working on their open source projects.