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Salon: Crafting the free-software future

Mar 06, 2001, 07:03 (13 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ed Frauenheim)

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"Since launching in January 2000, SourceForge, which is sponsored by open-source hardware and services provider VA Linux, has attracted 125,000 software developers, say company representatives. The site added more than 17,000 software developers just between Jan. 18 and Feb. 21 and has been averaging monthly growth of more than 30 percent. SourceForge, says John T. Hall, vice president for strategic planning at VA Linux, is close to eclipsing IBM as the world's largest community of software programmers."

"But size isn't the only thing that matters about SourceForge. To some observers, the community of developers that has gathered together at SourceForge represents nothing less than the latest stage of the evolution of free software. It's a focal point for all the world-wide energy flowing out of hackers and into code that everyone can share. Eric Raymond, co-founder of the Open Source Initiative, a prominent advocate for open-source software and a member of the VA Linux board of directors, says the site is as significant to the open-source movement as the creation of Linux -- which focused the efforts of thousands of volunteer computer coders worldwide."

"(Linux) created a kind of social synergy," Raymond says. "SourceForge is having the same effect."

"Even so, Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, believes that SourceForge's emphasis on the pragmatic open-source approach to software development distracts programmers from the altruistic principles at the heart of free software...."

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