Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

Everyone has countless questions about early waves like Web3. And I found that “open source”, which is the most worthy of being taken out, rarely caused heated discussion. If the birth of Web3 stems from cryptocurrency; then the birth of cryptocurrency stems from the Holy Grail of open source.

How does understanding open source help understanding Web3? I actually just entered the industry for 3 months. However, after communicating with many Web3 OGs, they were all amazed at the contrast between my short time in the industry and my deeper understanding.

Looking back, it’s not really how fast I learned, it’s just that the open source community that I have been immersed in for many years is very similar to one of the core areas of Web3: DAO. The open source community, somewhat similar to the intermediate transition form between companies and DAOs, is a compromise solution based on fiat currency to “build higher productivity / software that meets updated needs” before cryptocurrency was born.

To understand open source culture and its spirit, it is not as difficult to understand as blockchain, encryption algorithms, and Byzantine problems. The value of open source is also one of the important underlying pillars of our technological evolution in the new era of information. I want to share these insights with you through this article, hoping to help you.

The first question is, what is open source? You can say that open source is public welfare, open source is dedication and altruism, you can also say that open source is a brand-new productivity organization method, a standard for human collaboration, and even open source is a religion and a belief. Each point of view has its own plausibility, and I mainly focus on the analysis from the perspective of “creating higher productivity / software that meets the needs of updates”.

By 2022, regardless of the open source behavior of Web2 at home and abroad, a mature business model has been incubated. Especially as cloud computing has passed the early stage of being an immature infrastructure and entered a period of rapid development that promotes the overall digitalization of human society, open source Infra has flourished in the past two years, and it has blossomed all over the world. Only by the end of last year in China, all related startups have emerged, and the amount of financing is staggering (Source: 2021 China Open Source Annual Report):

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

It can be seen that from databases, middleware to AI and cloud native fields, the financing amount and frequency of open source projects are constantly breaking records. Earlier than a world-class open source company in China, it was either listed or acquired, and the cycle of capital withdrawal was getting shorter and shorter. One of the prominent representatives, cloud DevOps platform HashiCorp, was listed on Nasdaq on December 9, 2021, with an IPO market value of about $15.3 billion:

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

Obviously, the current mainstream open source behavior has become a qualified track and capital game. Take a look at the picture below, and you will find the prosperity of the open source ecosystem, to what extent it has reached:

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

During the whole process from birth to listing, investors of open source startups (GGV is a typical capital representative) injected a lot of capital and time, the founding team has spent many difficulties and hair loss meetings, and open source contributors from the community have paid There are countless PRs and “PRs”, which are backed by lines of code, pages of documentation, and word of mouth.

In the end, the investors made a lot of money and left the market in style; the founding team became famous and bought a car and a house; the vast number of open source contributors, with endless T-shirts, Hoodie and stickers, felt a sense of “participation in open source”. Sense”, continuing to happily tap the next bug. So paradoxically, the vast majority of actual contributors in the open source community have been talking about “generating electricity for love”, and they have not obtained sustained and reasonable economic returns from participating in open source.

Next comes the second question: Now that Web2’s open source is maturing, what is the need for us to improve it with the Web3 model? Because the current open source collaboration method based on Web 2 (fiat currency) has ended its role in “creating software that is more productive/meeting update requirements”, it is difficult to continue to shorten the product maturity cycle of several years or even decades. To demonstrate this proposition, we must briefly review the development history of open source and how the three generations of open source business models have evolved.

If we really want to go back to the origins, we can go all the way back to the 1950s, an open source project like ARPANET that you may not have heard of. The first wave of Iconic’s open source figures were Richard Stallman (RMS), who founded the Open Source Promotion Association OSI and promoted the free software movement. I won’t expand on the various things, but you may have heard of RMS’s open source “God” editor Emacs. As for the torture of using experience, whoever uses it knows.

When the open source movement in the 70s and 80s took root, the second wave of Iconic who contributed to the truly widespread popularity of open source must mention Linus Torvalds in the 90s. That’s right, it’s that strange man who often raises his middle finger and has a hot temper. He single-handedly contributed to the Linux that dominates the server system field. It was also from this time that commercial software began to gradually fall behind in the competition with open source software for “creating higher productivity / software that meets update requirements”.

Published as a book in 1999, the open-source bible “The Cathedral and the Bazaar,” written by Eric S. Raymond, another of the open source movement trendsetters, says it all:

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

There are many aspects mentioned in this book, and the core is to make an in-depth comparison between the two models of “commercial software – cathedral” and “open source software – bazaar”. The former is closed, vertical, and centralized; the latter is parallel, point-to-point, and dynamic multi-person collaboration.

They have their own advantages and disadvantages. The closed-source business cathedral model, unified arrangement and partial execution, and centralized collaboration are highly efficient, but it is difficult to come up with innovative ideas. The open source open market model can gather the smartest brains in the world and is easy to innovate, but the efficiency of distributed collaboration is not high.

So what helps open source overcome its shortcomings in one fell swoop? We also have to look at the Killer Feature released by Linus: Git. Originally, the writing of the program is basically a standardized product, only related to logic. The main reason for the inefficiency of collaboration is that the code between different participants cannot be communicated and merged smoothly and efficiently. The emergence of Git has cured the disease in one fell swoop. Little Penguin Linux is very happy, and open source is no longer lame. Later, the emergence of platforms such as Git-based GitHub brought the collaboration efficiency between programmers a step closer, and with the addition of mechanisms such as issue and PR review, it became even more powerful.

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

The take-off of open source has also naturally started the business process. Let’s take a look at what ups and downs the open source business model has gone through. The leader of the first generation of open source, called Red Hat RedHat. If Liuns relies on his personal charisma and hard-core technical skills to make Linux the first successful open source project and community in the world. Red Hat went a step further and turned Linux into a successful business:

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

In order to break the monopoly of commercial and closed-source Windows systems, Red Hat took a different approach and adopted a novel strategy such as open source. Red Hat’s open source is a License licensing model. Linux-based open source provides various customized solutions, which are sold in a commercial licensing model to generate revenue. Therefore, they do not create new open source projects by themselves, and go to “create higher productivity.” / software to meet the needs of updates”. In 2018, Red Hat was acquired by Big Blue IBM at a price of $34 billion, bringing an end to the pioneering era of leadership.

The second generation of open source companies, much more interesting, began to appear regular troops who truly believe in open source and are well versed in business: database MongoDB, data search Elasticsearch, data set Cloudera and other companies. The proposition of this generation of open source is closely related to “build more productive / update software”.

10gen, the predecessor of MongoDB’s parent company, was established in 2007. The database world has historically been dominated by relational databases. However, with the advent of the era of big data, all kinds of new demands are flying, and traditional relational databases seem to be more and more tired. Non-relational databases represented by MongoDB fill the gap, that is, “build software that meets the needs of updating”, to meet new requirements such as document databases, KV key-value databases, and graph databases.

However, the second generation of open source companies also encountered the grievances of the times: the rising cloud computing vendors, especially AWS (Amazon Cloud Computing), launched sniping, wantonly “bringing” open source projects to fork, and then combined to sell for money, but did not give Contribute to open source projects. It’s funny and ironic to say that the wave of cloud computing thrives because of the open source of container technology Docker (hardware virtualization) and container orchestration technology Kubernetes, which allow cloud computing vendors to buy and sell cloud services through virtual elastic resource units , instead of continuing the early IBM-style cloud service model of selling physical servers that was difficult to massively scale.

From a moral point of view, such acts of AWS are very disdainful to open source people. In 2015, Elasticsearch CEO Shay Banon publicly criticized AWS for calling it a vampire incident. MongoDB and Elasticsearch have revised their open source code licenses one after another, restricting AWS from copying open source code for their own use in terms of IP property rights.

Please answer Web3: A Brief History of Open Source Evolution

There are no permanent enemies in business, only temporary enemies and permanent friends. The conflict between the second generation of open source companies and cloud computing companies is vivid. Is there a way for everyone to make money together? The third generation of open source companies has developed a cloud-hosted SaaS approach. The HashiCorp mentioned above is one of the best. It buys the IaaS resources of cloud computing manufacturers to customize a cloud platform and divides them into each other. Or open source vendors, simply sell their open source software on cloud computing vendors as an integrated service, such as the cooperation between domestic messaging middleware StreamNative and Tencent Cloud.

In summary, we can sort out the context of open source business development. The first generation of open source, I sell open source, and whoever likes to engage in open source will do it himself. The second generation of open source, I love the open source community and love to engage in open source projects, but some people don’t pay for free Downstream, everyone makes money together, it’s really fragrant.

The above brief history is only a small part of the history of open source. If there is any mistake, welcome to correct and discuss. In the follow-up, I will continue to publish articles to discuss: What are the similarities between open source and DAO. Has Web3, which has been shouting that Community is the king, evolved from the spirit of the open source community? Does the ubiquitous project fork “Fork” of open source projects help us understand the earth-shattering fork movement of BTC and ETH from time to time?

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