Recently I was at a local bookstore when I overheard a couple of people talking about how there were almost as many Linux books as Windows ones on the shelves. I had to find out what was up, and so I introduced myself and found that the person had tried Linux recently and was giving up his present job for a job programming Web pages for another company.
He shared with me his disgust of Microsoft products, and how it was extremely embarasing to be associated with the technology in general.
I didn't tell him that I felt the same way--there wasn't time. I did tell him that I used Linux to manage and run Web sites, that it was great stuff, and I shared some statistics about Apache.
Unfortunately, the store was closing and we both had to be on our way. There was barely enough time for me to share even this small amount of information--but I could spot a brother in arms anyway, and I think the feeling was mutual. He stepped toward the counter with a book under his arm and muttered something to the effect that he wasn't so sure about it, almost in a disgusted manner.
I looked down at the book: it was about on ASP programming (Microsoft's proprietary idea of active content technology centers around ASP--Active Server Pages).
I looked at him, and as quickly as I could do so, I told him as much as I could about PHP, including the fact that I liked the book by WROX Press, Professional PHP Programming, as it was the best I had encountered so far. It didn't take much.
He looked at his friend, smiled, and said "I guess I'll just put this away then." And we both were on our way.
Apache powers 60 percent of the web--literally dwarfing any compeitors or would-be competitors, with no end to the trend in sight. PHP is now in use on over two million websites worldwide, and that number is growing. Both are big-league examples of the Open Source phenomena: Virtually no marketing dollars spent in comparison to their closest compeitors, yet growing at phenominal rates. Open source Apache and PHP are fast, extensible, sensible, fairly stable from my experiences, and most importantly--free.
It's something that very few technical people who haven't experienced Open Source software in action will understand or believe, at least, until they take the important step into the world. Once you step in, there's no going back. You are at once empowered, and you suddenly see choices in all directions.
Perhaps this is why the Apache logo is multicolored, almost a subliminal suggestion that no one hue represents the effort--everyone is welcome and everyone can play. Anyone who has read my writing about Linux knows that it's something I'm passionate about. I really respect the product, and I believe in it.
I discovered Linux the way one discovers and oil well, and a gusher at that--my discovery of Apache was gradual, possibly the way that one learns to respect a great work of art by successive viewings. Each time the viewer finds something unexpected, something provocative, something beautiful.
Over time I began to see something very well balanced and quietly going about its business as if it weren't even there. I think that's part of why the product hasn't gotten the recognition that it deserves--Apache has fueled the open source web revolution, yet many people still believe that the Web was won with proprietary products. Without execption, the facts above always come as a surprise to the uninitiated.
What Will Apache Today Be?
That's up to the folks that visit. Here are some wishes I would like to see fulfilled:
- A place where honorable discussion can take place regarding the most successful Open Source project ever.