I have all the source code.
That’s not some sort of metaphorical declaration of the glory of free and open source software; I’m not talking about simply having the rights to go download some source code. I mean it quite literally: I have the source code necessary to build all of the software powering my PC.
Right now. Like, on my hard drive.
+ Also on Network World: 30 days in a terminal +
I did this simply because I could. Because the source code is there. Source code repositories galore. And as I sit here typing this, I have all of it—at least for everything I use every day. And I’ve backed it up.
The internet could go away today. This very moment, a psychotically large solar flare could burst forth from Sol and meet up with a gamma ray from Orion’s belt, resulting in the generation of 1.21 jiggafluxorz—the exact number of fluxorz necessary to cause the complete eradication of the internet without any other damage of any kind.
But I would be fine. I would be able to rebuild this entire Linux distro—complete with OfficeSuite, video editors, games, the works—and continue using it, editing and fixing as needed. Because I have every last drop of source code for it (along with all the pictures, scripts and whatnot).
I could, in essence, fork every piece of software and continue the work of building and maintaining it. Pushing forward to repopulate the computers of the Earth. I guess in this hypothetical, post Psycho-Sun-Ray world, every computer (except mine) will have their drives wiped clean.
Those jiggafluxorz, man. They’ll get ya.
This is the first time I’ve done this—at least at this scale.
Linux from scratch was fun, but this is even better
A long time ago, I did the whole “Linux from scratch” thing: installed and built my own Linux system from source—bit by bit. It was brutal but oddly enjoyable and fulfilling. Of course, I didn’t make it to a complete desktop system chock-full of applications. Instead I got as far as having X-Windows running with a semi-functional window manager. That’s about it.
“Linux from scratch” was fun and gave me a real sense of “I-can-do-it-itiveness.” But that … that was nothing compared to the feeling of having the full source to rebuild an entire system, including every last supporting application.
Sometimes I forget how awesome it is that this is possible. Every one of us has the ability, and the right, to do this. To do (pretty much) whatever we like with every last drop of code powering our computers.
This is just a quick thank you to every single one of you who made this possible. And there’s a lot of you who put in a lot of time. I hope you feel it was worth it—because this is amazing.
In fact, to every user of free and open source software out there—and if you’re reading this, that’s you—find one of the people who helped make this happen. The programmers, testers, writers, designers, community leaders and translators—find one of them. And give them a great big hug—or at least one of those “I’m holding a little pew-pew gun in each hand and saying pew pew pew at you” things. Maybe with a little wink or something. They deserve it.
Because they’re the ones who are going to save us from the jiggafluxorz.