Three groups of stories in this long-in-coming DLTJ Thursday Threads. First, we look at the pent-up risks of running Windows XP systems given that support for that operating system is scheduled to end in April 2014. Second, a pair of articles that look at the ups and downs of open source software governance as it relates to the Apache Foundation. And lastly, look out for that garbage can — it may be watching your every move.
One of the more fascinating aspects of open source software is the role that its creators and users play in its evolution. (For more on the community nature of open source software, see a previous article, The Challenges and Rewards of Open Source) With proprietary systems, the creators and users are separate groups, and the control over the relationship is bound up in proprietary rights and contracts. (This doesn’t diminish the role of robust user groups for proprietary software; rather it is a reflection of where the ultimate control lies – with the creators of the software.) With open source software, the creators and users are commonly the same or closely overlapping. How do creators and users work with each other? This is a question of governance.
Just as it turns 40, the internet comes of age. One day before of the anniversary of the first two computers connected together by a prototype network in 19691 — a move that foreshadowed the worldwide network of computers we know today — the U.S. Government announced that it was forever releasing direct control over a key governance organization that makes the internet run. Called the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), that governance organization is what runs the top level domain name servers (DNS). And that is important because it is the DNS that translates human-friendly names such as “www.google.com” and “dltj.org” into network-friendly addresses.