Free Software / Open Source:

Information Society Opportunities for Europe?

Working group on Libre Software1

December 1999

Version 1.0 (work in progress)

Open source software is becoming the most interesting `new' phenomenon of the entire information technology landscape, generating a level of interest similar to that of the first moments of the Internet. However, as we will show in this document, the open source software phenomenon is not historically new, although in recent years it has reached a critical mass, which has allowed it to enter the mainstream software market.

The impact of open source technology is expected to be quite noticeable in the software industry, and in society as a whole. It allows for novel development models, which have already been demonstrated to be especially well suited to efficiently take advantage of the work of developers spread across all corners of the planet. It also enables completely new business models, which are shaping a network of groups and companies based on open source software development. And it has, in general, a very positive impact as an enabler for the creation of new markets and business opportunities.

Despite these facts, many people think that the open source movement is merely another temporary fashion in the software industry. On the contrary, many other believe that changes caused by open source will be so deep that they will completely shape the software industry of the first decade of the 21st centuy. This document tries to provide some facts, opinions and references, so that the reader can decide if all of this is just nonsense, or if it deserves more and better study and consideration.

Copyright 1999

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