Keeping the first question pretty easy:

When and how did you discover the concept of free and open-source software?



@brandon in the early to mid 1980s probably, though the concept wasn't formally established yet. I was a fan of the type-in BASIC software in publications like COMPUTE! And Antic.

I was formally introduced to the concept in around 1994 when I was at the University of Alberta by Kees den Hartigh who kept the electrical engineering labs running. He was already a huge FOSS evangelist and v1.0 of the Linux kernel had just been released.

@msh hey that's my birth year(1994)! :D

What's kept you around for so long :)

@brandon thanks for reminding me I'm old :blobwoah: I gotta sit down...

Ok that's better lol. Kees encouraged students to try a "real" operating system that took advantage of current x86 hardware and was more like the UNIX environment we used in our labs. It was great being able to compile, test and submit my assignments on my own PC even over 9600 baud dial up lol.

After that I ended up using Free software for school and work because it was on my resume and it was generally better...

@brandon ...At the last job I had as a co-op student my employer had to expend a great deal of time and money to maintain a proprietary Windows NT based software application critical to their operation. The vendor had gone out of business and the new owner of the code was not very helpful.

At the same time I was developing an application using PostgreSQL 6.0 as a back end. I had an issue where the database would core dump with a certain query so I emailed the mailing list...

@brandon ...I didn't have high expectations, after all I was a newbie and had not paid for anything. However I got a response very quickly from Bruce Momjian, and within a couple of days of conversation he sent me a patch and helped me apply it and my problem was solved!

In 3 days I got a bug fixed where that other much more important and expensive closed software took 3 months.

So after such positive 1st impressions with Linux and PostgreSQL I was convinced Free/open was best.

@msh wow o.o 3 day patch time in the 80s?? Glad to see that things have been good for such a long time!

Did you ever try to convince your employer to go free software?

@brandon well by then it was the 90s but yeah closed software has always been inferior in that respect I think. RMS founded GNU in an effort to protect software freedom when a vendor denied access to the source to diagnose and fix a software bug, causing unnecessary delay.

I had no trouble with that employer; I got the job because I knew Linux and Perl and Apache and they were migrating some big old AT&T UNIX to mostly Linux already in the mid 90s. The problems with Win NT stuff scared them.

@brandon After graduating I worked with a small outfit that was a SCO UNIXware partner and driver support was frustrating so we migrated to Red Hat and had a much better time (SCO later decided to abandon their users to sue IBM so it was a smart move), until the dot-com bubble burst and took out that business.

After that I worked for/with a big industrial controls/automation company. Windows only for a long time but my present employer is all RHEL based SCADA systems so that is good.

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