Go To: The Story of the Math Majors, Bridge Players, Engineers, Chess Wizards, Maverick Scientists, and Iconoclasts, the Programmers Who Created the Software Revolution

By Steve Lohr | Go to book overview
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11
There Has to Be a Better Way:
Apache and the Open
Sou rce Movement

THEY FELT ABANDONED IN LATE 1994 - a small, scattered collection of Internet software engineers from Britain, Nebraska, San Francisco, and elsewhere, all commiserating on-line. They were mostly people running Web sites in the days before the Internet was a household word, before Wall Street took notice, before the browser war. The Internet was still a clubby little realm whose practices were guided by the research culture of its origins in the late 1960s. In the tradition of academic research, Internet software was freely shared.

But things were beginning to change. The programming team from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois had just decamped to Silicon Valley to seek their fortune, joining a startup that would soon be called Netscape. The on-line commiserators all used the same data-serving software, developed at the Illinois supercomputing center, for deliveringWeb pages over the Internet to desktop computers. With the Illinois developers gone, the far-flung group of Web masters shared code improvements and bug fixes informally among themselves. "We traded software patches like baseball cards," recalled Brian Behlendorf, one of the original group.

Lacking a leader or an organized approach, however, the accumulation of quick fixes threatened to soon become a patchwork mess of a program. So eight

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