Happy !

I have a request for all y'all folks: what are some pivotal moments in open source history? Try to think beyond the usual suspects (licenses, operating systems, etc...).

(Cross-posted from, but not linked to, Twitter.)


A social hub to attract developers.
Communication close to the code (instead of mailing lists).

StackOverflow in a similar vein.

Oh and not to forget MDN. Especially after the rebranding from Mozilla Developer Network to MDN Web Docs (with Microsoft, Google, Samsung on board)

@juliaferraioli First distributed version control system? Wikipedia says it's either Arch, Monotone or Darcs. It's vague about the dates. I seem to remember Darcs is older than Monotone…

@juliaferraioli Pretty much a dead heat, but Darcs wins: first release 3/3/2003

@fishidwardrobe @juliaferraioli BitKeeper was actually around a few years before. It was used by the Linux Kernel (for a while) and MySQL:

@juliaferraioli I don't know if it's pivotal, but I find Audacity being acquired by Muse to be an interesting contemporary case study. Only days after it occurred, they added (tried to add?) telemetry and there was a huge uproar about it, which lead to the creation of forks like Tenacity.

In less recent history, a certain individual's frustration with a particular printer was probably a very important moment.

Whoever created the first "view source" option in a web browser.

Oracle buys Sun.

Rise and demise of Flash.

US lawsuit about „code is speech“

@paul @juliaferraioli
Hm, I could imagine Aaron Swartz was involved in pivotal moments.

SOPA and such.

@paul @juliaferraioli
Hm, asymmetric encryption was important. Elliptic curves.

But also PGP exported as book.

Oh, and this movie about thermonuclear warfare confused with a video game. Led to Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Forgot it's name.

@paul @juliaferraioli
Agile Manifesto.

Open Source Hardware movement (RISC-V?).

Where do you draw the line, Julia?
Just brainstorming here.

@paul @juliaferraioli
That book by „The Gang of Four“.


Object Oriented Programming.

@paul @juliaferraioli
SuSE (commercial distribution of OSS. Perhaps Red Hat was earlier?).

Ubuntu (especially on server).

Ansible, Puppet, Salt etc (configuration of servers via YAML files).

Node.js (there were previous attempts of server-side JavaScript).

Raspberry Pi.

@paul @juliaferraioli
BASIC programming language.

MySpace (what was that worm's name? Sammy?)

@paul @juliaferraioli

Indeed, that should be considered alongside the Xfree86 developer mutiny that led to the project.

Great examples of what happens if a project starts pushing the community in a direction it doesn't like. (And how we have better recourse than corporate proprietary projects).

@juliaferraioli Um, I said “in Germany”, but that ruling was the first time anywhere in the world that a court accepted the GPL

@LaF0rge please correct me if I’m wrong

@kgerloff @juliaferraioli thanks for the flowers, abd indeed it is generally recognized as the first court decision enforcing the GNU GPLv2

@juliaferraioli Oh, and there’s Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, which led to Oracle vs Google. I’d expect @webmink would have something to say on this (and many other things besides)


It is probably only #opensource adjacent, but I think often of the work to reverse engineer the IBM bios which eventually allowed "white box" computers which became known as the PC platform (not controlled by one vendor).

Combine that with the BASIC language in ROM chips allowing uncounted numbers of hackers to get their feet wet in computer programming.


@webmink @juliaferraioli Yeah, OIN as whole. Changed the game, though it did increase the share of suits hanging around

@kgerloff @juliaferraioli But Microsoft joining OIN in particular was like the surrender at the end of the war.

@webmink @kgerloff @juliaferraioli did they ever officially give up on their 235 patent infringement claims? Or is that still in their back pocket?

I believe that to have been expressly surrendered for OIN membership.

Having said that, I do not for a moment believe they have stopped using the Phelps model for monetizing their portfolio.

@kgerloff @juliaferraioli

@juliaferraioli Less settled, but very interesting, is the adoption of codes of conduct by many FOSS communities in recent years. That’s a Master’s thesis’ worth of material right there (though not sure in which subject 🙃)

@juliaferraioli The one that's a slow burn that will prove crucial is the promulgation of the OSR in 2006. HTTPS://

I think human languages were the first, most important, open source projects. I realize this answer probably isn't useful for your purposes but:
a) I wanted to go on record with this thought;
b) I truly think that it affords a useful perspective in understanding what we *call* open source; and
c) I bet Larry Wall would agree with me.


I think it's also worth noting the founding of Wikipedia (2001) and the Creative Commons (2002), when people began to accept that "open source" ought to apply to more than just programs.

I personally remember those conversations and arguments very intensely. I remember a number of special pleading that "software was different" and that "artists wouldn't share their work" in the same ways.

Some of that seems laughable, today.

@juliaferraioli The Drizzle project. Now nearly forgotten, it was the first project that did gated commits and enforced pre-merge CI checks. OpenStack, Kubernetes and everything else copied that approach, establishing what we now consider the standard of collaborative open source software development.

@juliaferraioli If I recall the story correctly: the Hudson maintainer not getting the email that they needed to change their hosting configuration (because of some IT shuffling after Oracle's purchase of Sun), thinking that they'd been booted, and forking to Jenkins?

@juliaferraioli Times when founders of big projects (e.g., Django, Python) stepped down while deliberately switching from a BDFL model to something more sustainable

2006: Chris Ball and Hanna Wallach set up what turns into Outreachy

Meta, less unkind than it sounds 

@juliaferraioli old fart magnet toot

@juliaferraioli Cisco being forced to share back their change regarding WRT54G support for GPL compliance was a great boom for opensource firmware (projects like openwrt started there)


Chrome / Chromium?
VS Code?

Both examples of huge companies really embracing OSS in a big way...

@cgranade @juliaferraioli Why not include Apple WebKit then? Gecko/Firefox might be too obvious...

Oh, I'd nominate the release of Elephant's Dream (the first Blender Open Movie)!

@juliaferraioli (now LibreOffice) in 2000 and the inception of ODF in 2001.

@juliaferraioli besides the obvious choices most recent ones might be negative ones. simply because old ones were easy to pin down. GNU, POSIX, Linux Kernel, Major Distros, etc...

but nowadays many things happen at once, people cooperate and the are less single bit milestones of progress. it is a constant one.

but microsoft aquiring github for example was a major moment. even though a negative one imo.

@juliaferraioli Cygnus forking GCC - and then having it win out was huge. Showed the power of forking to work for good.

@juliaferraioli great question! The SCO lawsuit and trial seems like a pretty big deal.

@juliaferraioli the UK’s Government Digital Service (GDS) bringing open source and user centred agile development right into the heart of public service, an approach since replicated all over the world.

@Floppy @juliaferraioli Also Canonical abandoning its convergence/mobile strategy was a big moment in open source.


I'm sure it's already been mentioned, but don't forget the drafting of the Gnu General Public License, especially v2, by Eben Moglen and Richard Stallman in 1990.

@TerryHancock yeah, that's why I explicitly excluded licenses from my question

The essay by David A Wheeler in 2006 that established FLOSS met the criteria as "commercial software" allowing the US Military to procure it.

@juliaferraioli Mutable Instruments basically changed all of music hardware for all perpetuity by open sourcing hardware and firmware. A lot of people took advantage but also lots of people who got to see code and hardware designs from the best in the game and that has caused an explosion in innovation and knowledge around that space IMO.

@juliaferraioli mastodon, honestly. I don't use the software directly anymore but I'm pretty certain fedi is the future of general purpose social networking. Fedi was not this before mastodon, it was cool but not the future for most people. There's good inertia here and we can thank mastodon for that, as much as we all love to shit on it.

Microsoft buying github. It directly spurned more interest in forgefed and self hostable git repos with web UIs. Forgefed was already being built, but it really accelerated after that.

The contributions to OSM even from big corps has really helped. I know people who don't know what FOSS is that use OSM on their phones because "it's better." I hope I don't regret saying that one day.

The pinephone might very well be the hardware that kicks off fully FOSS mobile environments. Hopefully we learn from Android that it's not enough for the core system to be FOSS. That's more of an optimistic and hopeful prediction.

@juliaferraioli I know operating systems is off the list, but I still might argue for 4.2BSD — not in and of itself, but because it was the first serious version with TCP/IP sockets, making the internet (and sharing of code) possible.

(Go Bears)

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