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From Linux World to EOS - A Futurist Reminisces

A Futurist Reminisces

It is with some sadness that I am writing my last editorial for Enterprise Open Source Magazine. As the founding editor-in-chief of this magazine and a past contributor to its predecessor, I am going to miss it. However, all things must end and this chapter of my writing career, I am happy to say, ends on a high note.

I have had the privilege of publishing hundreds of articles over the past years on Linux and other open source technologies read by Linux and open source users worldwide. I also got to meet many folks who have shaped the success of the open source industry. As someone who has spent his career looking forward, I thought I would take this opportunity to take a rare look backward.

I feel that I have the unique ability and good fortune to pick out and become involved in the next big thing. I have always landed smack dab in the middle of the technology trends that have and are reshaping our lives. Here's a short walk down memory lane.

The Internet
I remember when the evening news started to proclaim the birth of the "Information Superhighway" (I am so glad that moniker has fallen out of vogue). It's evident that the availability of instant information is valuable but the ability for global collaboration is what has really fueled the growth of the Internet.

I had the good fortune too during the mid 1990s to work for one of the first Internet service providers, PSINet. During that time I remember the first days of Yahoo!, was a Netscape beta tester, and helped support the earliest Websites of the Fortune 1000. I remember using a Mac everyday (running MacOS 7.5.3) and was the owner of one of the first Windows laptops (it was a Toshiba Satellite well before Dell was the established market leader). I helped launch cable broadband and DSL offerings when the norm was a 28.8 kbps modem. Later my team was one of the first commercial users of Linux desktops supporting one of the world's largest Web hosting businesses.

Finally, I watched the commoditization of Internet access. I saw the writing on the wall that Internet usage would be become as pervasive as cable television and I knew it was time to move on. I also observed the role open source played in this evolution - powering e-mail, Web servers (Apache), and BIND for DNS. Luckily I had the good fortune to dive into Linux, open source, and virtualization in my next endeavor.

Open Source
After the Internet, probably the biggest trend shaping technology is open source. I am fascinated by how far things have come in a relatively short time. I remember using Linux on a pre-Pentium Compaq PC well before it had gained its current enterprise server status. The host name of the machine was Sharky and our idiosyncratic Webmaster Phil made me take a bash shell test before I was able to have my own account on the machine.

Today, open source is everywhere, running Websites like eBay and Google. Firefox (Netscape's open source offspring) runs on my desktop and OpenOffice.org is my office suite of choice. Open Source software has become pervasive in our networks and is slowly creeping onto our desktops.

Social Networking and Participatory Media
While I will never lose my interest in the Internet or open source, I must admit my current fascination is with the rise in social networking, online communities, and participatory media. I think that Enterprise Open Source was a good baptism for this as it was filled with articles written by contributors throughout the industry, not by typical journalists, and was a real participatory publication.

I am interested in how online communities grow, and the power they yield to help develop technologies and evangelize new trends. The networks that power them fascinate me. Once again I feel like a student studying the ways peer production can be used to accomplish monumental tasks, such as the development of the Linux operating system.

Thank You
I would like to thank everyone who has read and contributed to Enterprise Open Source Magazine and to everyone who has shared their thoughts with me both good and bad.

I am not writing off magazine publishing but I have become more enamored with the frequency of publishing a blog, something about the informality and immediacy is very appealing. I also find it difficult to meet the demands of a rigid publishing schedule with my other commitments. Recently my time has been consumed at Zenoss (www.zenoss.com) where, as the vice president of community, I am fostering an online community that supports the open source Zenoss Core project, perhaps a job that is too good to be true.

Despite my lack of a formal writing schedule, I will be spending what little time I do have authoring my blog at www.encoreopus.com (it's an anagram for open source in case you were wondering). Please feel free to tune in there or drop me a line at [email protected].

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Senior Director, Open Soure Solutions at Citrix. He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

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