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Network World - Brian Behlendorf, 32, is a leader of the open source movement and a high-tech Renaissance man. He was a key developer of the Apache Web server and is now the CTO at CollabNet, which provides hosted solutions for Web-based software development to Intel, Sun, Motorola and others. He also is a lover of all-night raves, techno music and art. He recently spoke with Network World Senior Editor Carolyn Duffy Marsan. Here are exerpts from that conversation.
How did you first get interested in the open source movement? Was there an "aha!'' moment for you?
It was long before the term "open source'' came to be. In high school, I used a piece of shareware called Fractant. It was really intriguing. It came with the full source code. The first screen was a scrolling list of e-mail addresses of all the collaborators. If you had a change to the software, you could send it to this address, and it would be incorporated in the next version. This was very different than any software I had seen or run before.
When I went to [the University of California] Berkeley, I saw how the Internet protocols were being defined through the IETF. That clued me in to the fact that innovation in software - and this is probably true generally - doesn't happen by one or two people but by a network of people working together.
The Web server has become a default. If you're running Linux or Solaris or anything that's Unix-based, Apache is it. Likewise with Mac OS 10. Apache on Windows is starting to catch on for the enterprise, but it has to compete with [Internet Information Services], which is the default when you start up Windows. We never expected it to be as popular as on Unix.
The most interesting story with Apache is the foundation as a whole. The Apache Software Foundation has 25-odd projects , and the Web server is just one. It's become this kind of tool chest, and each of these has its own developer community.
What's coming down the road for Apache?
For the Web server, it's a pretty mature space. We released Version 2.0 a couple of years ago, but there were lots of people for whom 1.3 was perfectly fine. 2.0 is a little faster and better if you're in a multithreaded environment. The Web server team doesn't try to expand the focus. The growth has been into these new projects.
Give me an update on CollabNet. How successful has the company been at making inroads into the enterprise market?
Our basic premise is that the open source community had come up with a really brilliant set of tools, processes and a mindset that supported worldwide software development. We've tried to pick the best of those tools and help corporations build a software development process around them. By plugging people and processes over the Internet, we've created a Web-based environment that's basically a big repository. It pulls a company's engineers together.