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O'Reilly Press Room

January 23, 1998
Netscape's Freeware Move a Return to Internet Roots

O'Reilly & Associates President Responds to
News of Freely Available Source Code

January 23, 1998, Sebastopol, CA--The Internet freeware community is fired up about yesterday's news that Netscape will be making its new Communicator Source Code freely available on the Internet.

Noted Internet pioneer Tim O'Reilly, President/CEO of the company most widely known for championing the cause of freeware, made the following comments on Netscape's decision:

"Freeware is the lifeblood of the Internet. All of the truly significant Internet technologies were originally developed by distributed communities of developers who freely shared their source code and built on each other's work.

"A few years ago, when the great Internet gold rush started, companies such as Netscape and Microsoft tried to assert ownership of Internet standards, only to find vitality and innovation slipping away, as they lost touch with the developer community that had originally created those standards.

"It's no accident that despite all the ink spilled over the war between Netscape and Microsoft, the dominant web server software is still the freeware Apache server, and that for all the hype about Java, it is still the freeware Perl language that activates the majority of web sites.

"Netscape's decision shows that it recognizes the enormous power of the freeware development model, and that it has the courage to look for new ways to harness what has quietly become the most successful software development paradigm. After spending three years trying to act like Microsoft, Netscape is returning to its roots and starting to act like a real Internet company again."

Netscape reportedly attributed its decision in part to developer Eric Raymond's groundbreaking paper on the freeware development model, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, which was one of the keynote addresses at O'Reilly's Perl Conference last summer.

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