OSCON: What it is.

This is the first of a few articles I’m going to write over the next couple of weeks related to the O’Reilly Open Source Conference, or what is more colloquially called OSCON. Before the conference event topic let us sync up on understanding exactly what this conference has been, what it was intended to be, and what it is today and its roots in open source.

OSCON was inaugurated in 1999 with its first conference held in Portland, Oregon. The location, that generally, has been the accepted home of OSCON. There have been other OSCON events in other locations but the sentiment remains – OSCON is a Portland conference and it’s a bit rough going in other cities hosting the conference.

OSCON started as a conference centered around the open source community since day one. It’s consistently held that course even when open source was regularly lamented, insulted, and cursed by the software industry. At one point Microsoft, the biggest of big software companies in the early days of OSCON relentlessly attacked open source. Steve Ballmer stated, “Linux is a Cancer” back in 2001.

Jim Allchin attacked open source as “the worst”.

Even the founder Bill Gates even went on record saying open source would make it so, “nobody can ever improve the software”.

Microsoft execs weren’t the only ones, just some of the richest, prominent, and loudest about berating the licensing model. Many corporations and others attacked it as communist and in other ways. But OSCON continued onward every year with solid turnout in Portland. The community continued to grow. But considering where we are now, that might seem a bit obvious. But way back then it wasn’t so obvious that open source licenses and related open models would become the way a vast percentage of software would be developed, as it is today.

But here we are!

OSCON started around those earlier days when open source was more often maligned than celebrated. At least in the business world and in the places the vast majority of us were, or would have been employed. When it started the conference aimed high and achieved a lot of victories in bringing together key people within the industry to grow open source development from multiple angles. As time went on OSCON expanded, as did its host library of open source books, on all the tools, options, and available solutions that were being created via open source licensing and the plethora of development paradigms.

Fast forward to today and OSCON is still that stalwart conference that brings people together, from those early days, to people that have just joined the open source communities today. This cohesive gathering of minds has a very low barrier for entry with its hallway pass, all the way to standard – more expensive fare – that covers the whole conference, specific and special gatherings, presentations, demos, and related activities.

Stay tuned, subscribe to the blog, and my next post I’ll take you on a whirlwind tour of more OSCON events, The New Stack‘s birthday at the conference, and more.