What Would Happen In A World Without Open Source Software
Over half the Web sites on the Internet would disappear. When you click on a link in your desktop browser, you're actually sending a request to server software running on the remote Web site, asking it to send you cool stuff to display. The software that powers the majority of Web sites is Open Source: most commonly the Apache server. Those sites still operating would have little or no active content. Despite what the Java and ActiveX evangelists would have you believe, most of the active content on the Web (fill-out forms, animations, etc.) is generated with Open Source programming languages, and Perl is way out in front of the pack. Sun Microsystems' first Webmaster, Hassan Schroeder, summed up its importance: "Perl is the duct tape of the Internet."
Most electronic mailing lists would stop. The Open Source Majordomo package is the most popular list manager on the Internet. Oh, by the way, it's written in Perl. But that wouldn't matter, because email wouldn't be working. The vast majority of email handling and delivery on the Internet is accomplished with Eric Allman's Open Source sendmail program.
You'll be typing "22.214.171.124" into your browser instead of "www.netaction.org". The Internet's Domain Name System, which does the mapping between numeric and domain-style (human readable) addresses, is almost totally dependent on a Open Source software package known as BIND (Berkeley Internet Name Daemon).
Usenet newsgoups would also go away. (Though some would argue that this would be a good thing.) The collection and distribution of news articles is managed by INN, another Open Source package running on thousands of sites worldwide. Much commercial software development would grind to a halt. The use of core development tools (compilers, debuggers, etc.) from the Open Source Software Foundation is pervasive throughout the software industry. etc.
At the First O'Reilly Perl Conference. Tom Christiansen, Perl guru and co-author of the book that has come to be known as the "Perl Bible" (Programming Perl, 2nd Edition), gave a pre-conference tutorial on Perl programming for the World-Wide Web. During the course of the day, he repeated (with considerable sarcasm) a quip heard from one of the new generation of Internet hipsters: "Without advertising, there wouldn't be an Internet." I'd like to modify that statement slightly:
"Without Open Source, there wouldn't be an Internet."