There are few individuals on this planet that have had the opportunity to create history. Even fewer have had the privilege to contribute to the society with their powerful innovations. A quick look at the rapidly growing global Open Source community reveals dozens of outstanding people that have achieved both these distinctions.
The worldwide phenomena now commonly referred to as “Open Source”, reached its inflection point during the birth of the Linux operating system. In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a student of Helsinki University developed an operating system from freely available lines of software. His creation, called ‘Linux’, has today become the world’s fastest growing operating system. Linux started out with only 10,000 lines of code back then. Today, it has grown to over 10 million, thanks to the global, million plus developer community that largely consists of students.
Open source software development has proved to be a perfect solution for harnessing the untapped potential of millions of talented individuals scattered all over the globe. The methodology of open source is simple: Allow talented individuals to participate in software development projects through the Internet, and make the source code of software available to others so that they can both learn from it and modify it as per their needs.
Given the right grooming, the next Linus Torvalds could emerge out of India. As India evolves up the value chain, our students no longer want to march to the beat of a particular drummer. They no longer want to develop software according to the specifications defined by others.
Globalization, thanks to the Internet, has made this possible. In his immensely popular book, “The World is Flat”, Thomas Friedman lists “Open Source” software as one of the ten great forces that have flattened the world.
For students looking to make a career in open source, it could never be easier. As graduation and post graduation often leave very limited time for doing anything else, students can look at taking ownership of an actual open source project as part of their final year project submission. Besides global recognition upon taking challenging projects, there is also a monetary reward that they can look forward to.