Demographics of Open Source

The open-source movement, once an IT curio, has picked up serious momentum in the past decade and is now receiving real credence among some of the largest corporate and government entities. Thus it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the open-source community is growing. But who, exactly, are the people swelling its ranks?

The precise demographics of the open-source movement are not easy to pin down, but some meta-trends emerge from various surveys, e-mail lists and other sources from this somewhat loose community. In the United States, the majority of open-source developers and users are in their late 20s and early 30s—the so-called Generation Xers—and most of them have about a decade of experience in their field. However, the age and experience levels might start to move downward over time as the number of young people who are exposed to open source goes up.

Indeed, this seems to be the case right now, said John Andrews, president of Evans Data Corp (EDC). His organization gauges the state of the open-source sector on a global basis once every six months.

“The landscape is changing rapidly,” he said. “The use of open source on a global basis is increasing every survey period, and it’s increasing in a couple of different ways. The ISV (independent software vendors) solution providers and small teams started using open source a little earlier than the large enterprises. That’s fairly obvious, since the large enterprises usually have to go through a standardization…



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