20 years of open source Erlang: OpenErlang Interview with Simon Phipps

Originally posted 2018–10–19 by Erlang Solutions

This is now our fourth #OpenErlang Interview having already unleashed videos featuring Robert Virding and Joe Armstrong, Chris Price, and Jane Walerud; each has their own views and stories to share when it comes to Erlang and open source. 2018 also marks another huge anniversary! The “open source” label was created at a strategy session held on February 3rd, 1998 in Palo Alto, California. That same month, the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was founded. So this year we’ve partnered with OSI to celebrate our anniversaries together. Viva open source, viva #OpenErlang!

Without further ado, we are very happy to introduce our next #OpenErlang friend — President of the Open Source Initiative, Simon Phipps.

We have the transcript listed at the bottom of this blog post.

About Simon

Simon Phipps has his fingers in a lot of puddings, and is a passionate open source advocate. He is a programmer and computer scientist extraordinaire with a wealth of experience and we didn’t have to ask him twice to work with us. In a true open source spirit, Simon is always very excited to support any project or campaign promoting the open source!

Simon has had experience at some of the world’s leading tech companies. He was a key figure at IBM in relation to Java, having founded their IBM Java Technology Center. He then joined Sun Microsystems in 2000 — most of Sun’s core software then became open source under Simon’s leadership (Solaris, XML and Java being the main ones).

As mentioned, Simon is the President of the Open Source Initiative, which he also created, and he has been President twice; firstly until 2015 before stepping down at the end of his term in 2016. He was then re-elected in 2017.

Simon is also part of the Open Rights Group, The Document Foundation and on the board of Open Source for America. Pass roles have included OpenSolaris, OpenJDK, OpenSPARC and MariaDB Foundation. He is the creator of LibreOffice and founder of Open Mobile Alliance.

About The Open Source Initiative

Do any of us remember a life without Internet? If so, those were bleak times indeed. Using paper maps and needing to entertain ourselves…

For starters, none of us would be in our position now if the decision by Ericsson to open source Erlang hadn’t been made 20 years ago. In the same year, the coinage of the term “open source” came about in Palo Alto, California and the Open Source Initiative (OSI) was created. Like Erlang, the Open Source Initiative had no idea just how popular it would become.

OSI is a global non-profit organisation that promotes open source software and the communities that love them. This includes education and infrastructure, as well as building communities surrounding the various language.

Along with broadcasting the popularity of open source technologies and projects, including BEAM languages, the OSI aims at preserving the communities and continuing legacies that are now 20 years old.

Interview Transcript

At work with the boss breathing down your neck? Or don’t want to be one of those playing videos out loud on public transport? Here’s the transcript, although not as exciting as the real thing.

Simon Phipps: I’ve been with the Open Source Initiative now since 2008. For the last few years, I’ve been the President of the Open Source Initiative.

The Open Source Initiative is at its heart a marketing program for free software. It takes the practical aspects of software freedom, the development methodology, the community openness, and makes them accessible to businesses and to those who don’t want to become activists for the ethics of free software.

In the early years, it was very much an upstart movement. It focused on attacking its opponents like Microsoft. It focused on defining a standard for licenses, called the Open Source Definition.

During the mid part of that first decade, it became obvious that Open Source was going to become adopted by many businesses. I think our first highlight was being surroundly attacked by the established corporations and then having those same corporations adopting Open Source as their core methodology. When, for example, a few years ago Microsoft said it loved Linux, that was a complete reversal of the position it took in 2002. That was a delicious moment, I have to say.

Software freedom is the essential ingredient for the profitability of companies using Open Source, for the career mobility of developers who are using Open Source and for the deployment of Open Source into new technologies like Cloud and IoT.

Open Source has become completely mainstream now. I think that’s a great thing. I think it vindicates the visions that many of us had 20 years ago. It’s also a challenge because it’s become so widely adopted now that people want to use the term “Open Source” to describe things that aren’t good for software freedom. I think that in the third decade that we’re just entering one of our focuses will be on making sure that software freedom becomes formats.

[00:02:04] [END OF AUDIO]

OpenErlang; 20 Years of Open Sourced Erlang

Erlang was originally built for Ericsson and Ericsson only, as a proprietary language, to improve telephony applications. It can also be referred to as “Erlang/OTP” and was designed to be a fault-tolerant, distributed, real-time system that offered pattern matching and functional programming in one handy package.

Robert Virding, Joe Armstrong and Mike Williams were using this programming language at Ericsson for approximately 12 years before it went open source to the public in 1998. Since then, it has been responsible for a huge number of businesses big and small, offering massively reliable systems and ease of use.

OpenErlang Interview Series

As mentioned, this isn’t the first in the #OpenErlang Interview series. We have three more existing videos to enjoy.

Robert Virding and Joe Armstrong

It only seems fitting to have launched with the creators of Erlang; Robert Virding and Joe Armstrong (minus Mike Williams). Robert and Joe talk about their journey with Erlang including the early days at Ericsson and how the Erlang community has developed.

Christopher Price

Last week was the launch of our second #OpenErlang Interview from Ericsson’s Chris Price. Currently the President of Ericsson’s Software Technology, Chris has been championing open source technologies for a number of years.

Chris chats to us about how Erlang has evolved, 5G standardization technology, and his predictions for the future.

Jane Walerud

Jane is a serial entrepreneur of the tech persuasion. She was instrumental in promoting and open sourcing Erlang back in the 90s. Since then, she has continued her entrepreneurial activities, helping launch countless startups within the technology sector from 1999 to present day. Her work has spanned across many influential companies who use the language including Klarna, Tobil Technology, Teclo Networks and Bluetail, which she founded herself.

Other roles have included Member of the Board at Racefox, Creades AB and Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, and a key role in the Swedish Government Innovation Council.

Other Erlang Solutions Activities…

Strategies for Successfully Adopting Elixir

You missed it! Continuing the #OpenErlang buzz, Ben Marx from Bleacher Report shared with us the many ways he adopted Elixir in our latest webinar. Don’t worry this recording is now available, and don’t forget you can sign up to receive the deck first, whether you can make the live recording or not.

The #OpenErlang London Party

We have announced our #OpenErlang London Party! Sign up for free at eventbrite to celebrate 20 years of open source Erlang! We’ll have great food, free-flowing drinks, and entertainment, and the best part? It’s all free!

If you’re interested in contributing and collaborating with us at Erlang Solutions, you can contact us at general@erlang-solutions.com.

World-class solutions for issues of scale, reliability & performance. Passionate about Erlang & Elixir. MongooseIM & WombatOAM creators. Also RabbitMQ experts!