Something strikes me when I talk career origin stories with IT professionals that have been in the field for 30+ years. So often it begins with “I learned Oracle” or “I got Microsoft-certified” or “I mastered the SAP suite.” There’s always a company name, and always a linear concept of mastery over that company’s suite of software. In contrast, I was recently speaking to a friend in my own cohort about how he’s been using Grafana as a frontend to Prometheus, all of which is running in a Docker container on some flavor of GNU/Linux. How strange and anarchic that mixture of mostly-vendorless products would seem to a time traveler from the boxed commercial world of the 1990’s.
The Free Software Movement started in the 80’s, but Eric S. Raymond’s The Cathedral and the Bazaar seems to have produced a thermopolitically-chilled alternative to free software: the open-source development methodology. This is responsible for the change; for the endless variety and interoperability that people demand of software today. It’s a reality that I take for granted.