Living the Open Source life on IBM i

I realize that I have taken Open Source on IBM i for granted.  Having run open source applications on IBM i for over 15 years, I just assume everybody knows that IBM i on Power is a great Open Source platform.  I mean, the “i” is for INTEGRATION…uh, duh!  But, it seems that there is only a subset of IBM i folks who realize that in many ways, they, too, have been running Open Source on i.  For a decade even.

Let’s start with web serving.  The early HTTP server was based on the CERN open web server.  Apache Tomcat has run almost forever on IBM i.   PHP has been on i since 2006.  Apache has been the HTTP server on IBM i since, what, 2002?  Regardless of whether I got my dates right, the truth is IBM i has been running Open Source software (commonly referred to as OSS) forever in ‘technology years’.

IBM upped the ante in the past two years by adding a new licensed program (free to those on SWMA) that contains a few, and soon, many open source packages that used to take a “real” bit-twiddler to configure and compile.  Now it is all done for you in a nice, clean package and there is more to come.  So what is the holdup in getting the community behind it?  I am not exactly sure.  Bill Gravelle, admittedly new to open source, happened to be in San Antonio this week and we sat down and had lunch and talked about Open Source and the IBM i community.  I think we are on the same page (he’ll let me know if I am not) in thinking that:

  1. Information about the open source community might be a bit fragmented.
  2. Information about how open source can be used in an IBM i enterprise might be lacking.
  3. Even though open source has been on IBM i for many years, there is still low visibility in and outside of the community.

There are multiple sources for open source information in the IBM i and I will be completely forthcoming in my interest promoting a more consolidated forum for finding solutions and sharing knowledge in the community.  Bill thinks that the fragmentation is a naturally occurring and will eventually coalesce into a more manageable few over time.  I am not sure who is right because I have tried multiple times to start a “central repository” of open source information (Open source on i was one such attempt) and I am trying again with the www.common.org/open-source website.  Will this next attempt work?

Well, it will work if we contribute, so that is what I ask.  Just send me an email about stuff you find helpful in your open source efforts (send it to opensource at the common.org domain).  I’ll take a look and post it up if it is helpful.  We need to start somewhere!  You can contact me either here at petesworkshop.com  (send it to pete @) or at the opensource email address at common.org.  Either will get to me.  And, don’t be shy…..

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