I got a glimpse of the software future, and didn’t recognize it…
I was used to work with UNIX workstations, mainly SGI IRIX and some Sun Solaris, some years ago (circa 1991). I was eager to be able to run a UNIX like OS on my personal machine (a PC XT that I had at the time). I strongly disliked MS Windows, and the Mac System didn’t have anything like a native command prompt at the time (Classic System). The comercial UNIX like systems for the PC were really expensive, and owning a workstation as a home, personal machine was also impractical, either by its price range, as well as by its installation requirements. That was when a friend of mine introduced me to a copy of an open source operating system that was impressively stable and well assembled. I became aware of Linux, by that Slackware distribution (Update 2017: I still have those CDs).
I became a fan of it instantly, and began to use it on my personal machine. At that time, I didn’t really pay attention to the licensing method that it used (GPL). I then began to use a distro from a newly created company, that against conventional thought, was capitalizing on services, and not on its product. Red Hat became my preferred distro by the time that it release it’s version 4 (see that it was before Fedora was created). I got deep into packaging with RPM, to package some specialized software that I used to use on IRIX. I did so previously on Slackware, but its packaging system (based on tar) didn’t cover dependency automatically, as RPM does, and I have to admit that it was the most important factor for my change from Slackware to Red Hat.
This was really the time when I began to pay close attention to licensing issues, and I found that the GPL v2 used to distribute the Linux kernel and most system utilities, have real power in its basement. I’d recommend reading “The Cathedral and the Baazar”, by Eric Raymond, to fully understand it. As I see, this is the only license that gives users all this benefits: security, flexibility and most importantly, freedom.
The open source magic is the future of software development.