The magical moment that made me a FOSS guy forever

11 years back, I was just yet another guy out of college with a background of Turbo C/C++ and Pascal as most other batchmates of mine. My software career could have gone anywhere. PC Quest Linux was just a toy with which I was playing with but wasn’t too much attached to yet.

A stroke of good luck helped me get an opportunity to work with one of my close school friends - Inder, who introduced me to PHP 3. I hadn’t heard of it, but he assured me that it is going to catch up, and is great for making web sites. So I struggled through Apache and PHP 3 with the smattering of documentation available at the time.

One day, frustrated with my inability to set PHP up, I shot off a mail to the PHP 3 mailing list of the time, hoping I get some direction to see what I am doing wrong. To my utter disbelief, Rasmus Lerdorf himself replied to my question and gave me a step by step solution to my problem. And I was hooked to the Open Source community forever.

I finally managed to track down the reply by Rasmus to my newbie query 11 years back. I was blown away by the commitment of the Open Source leaders, and kept wondering “The guy codes all this and even then spends such quality time helping people out selflessly, no matter that others are making money out of his software!”.

To a person just out of college in India who haven’t ever interacted with the community before, the personal dedication of FOSS (free & open source software) leaders like the founder of PHP himself was a revelation. Today it is taken for granted, I feel.

I never found the same level of involvement among the closed source community, the last time I looked at it, and yes, at that time, Java included.

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