FOSSDA: Preserving the history of open-source and free software
Writing the first draft of open-source and free software's history.
Today, we take for granted that open source is The way to create software. It wasn't always that way. It wasn't just that people like then Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, considered "Linux is a cancer," many didn't take open source seriously at all. That was then. This is now. But, we shouldn't forget that free software and open-source software were revolutionary in their day. The newly formed Free and Open Source Stories Digital Archive Foundation (FOSSDA) knows this, so it's seeking to record and archive the stories of the open-source software pioneers.
FOSSDA is a not-for-profit foundation that aims to engage with the pioneers of open-source software and share their legacies with the world. The FOSSDA Project will create digital recordings and archives of the history of the open-source software movement, documenting the stories of the developers, visionaries, and strategists who challenged the establishment and changed how we interact with the world.
It's far from just Linux. Programs such as Apache Web Server, Firefox, Sendmail, and the many others that make up the Internet backbone are all open-source.. Today, there are over 50 publicly traded commercial open-source software companies representing billions in value, And, besides those, there are the top technology companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Google, and all of which now run on open-source foundations. Yes, even Microsoft, where Azure now runs more Linux than Windows.
In particular, the FOSSDA Project hopes to uncover and record the stories of the first generation of free and open-source software developers. In the beginning, the movement was started by a group of technical visionaries, such as Richard M. Stallman, who believed that access to information is fundamental to human rights in our digital age. These ideas have since transformed software development, business, and modern society.
The FOSSDA Project will collect oral histories, and identify and interview pioneers in open-source development and community leaders. It will leverage the TheirStory video platform to remotely record, transcribe, and index oral history interviews, liaising with filmmakers, journalists, educators, and content curators to bring oral histories to life in short and long-format films, books, and interactive websites.
The first dozen of these videos are available now. These include interviews with Bruce Perens, an Open-Source Initiative (OSI) and Debian Social Contract founder; Abhishek Tiwari, VP of Apache Goblin; and Roger Dannenberg. Founder of the hugely popular Audacity digital audio editor. To ensure these records don't fall prey to bitrot, FOSSDA has partnered with Permanent.org to make certain the raw oral histories remain in the public domain and are permanently available.
The project has already garnered support from The Apache Software Foundation, The Mozilla Foundation, the Rochester Institute of Technology, the Permanent Legacy Foundation, and TheirStory.io. Others are welcome to join.
According to Heather Meeker, the well-known open-source attorney, and FOSSDA’s founder, "FOSSDA is about the personal stories of those who came together to revolutionize our modern technological world. Much has been written about open source development and open-source licensing - some practical, some dogmatic, some thought-provoking. But the FOSSDA Project is about a trailblazing human journey."
Other noteworthy Linux and open-source stories:
SCALE 20X is Coming!
SCaLE 20x – the 20th Annual Southern California Linux Expo – will take place on March 9-12, 2023, at the Pasadena Convention Center in Pasadena, CA
SCaLE is the largest community-run open-source and free software conference in North America. It is held annually in the greater Los Angeles area. It's well worth your time!