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Kept Alive by Linux

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In 1999, Eric S. Raymond published The Cathedral & the Bazaar, a seminal tome on the open source movement in which he writes: "Every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch."

Beloved old technologies don't die. They go open source. For some reason the open source model has enabled dead and dying technologies to stay alive long after commercial interests left them to rot.

The names of once popular but now ancient technologies, such as Gopher, DecNet, Amiga and even the Atari 2600 -- the granddaddy of all video game systems -- still live in the hearts, minds and source code of open source developers.

What magical power does open source possess that allows it to revive the dying and resurrect the dead? In most instances it's the dedication of an individual or a small band of loyalists that refuses to let the technology go away. In some cases it's nostalgia. In others it's simply a matter of meeting a need. And sometimes it's just about scratching an itch.

The Old on The New

The open source model extends a lifeline to old technology in a number of ways. One method is by supporting the old technology on the new, such as allowing an old protocol to run on a new operating system -- usually Linux.

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