This impact statement was requested by an academic institution where Bruce Perens practices. It is maintained for use by academic institutions and granting organizations. Please see Perens' statement on self-promotion.
Bruce Perens is the creator of the Open Source Definition, the canonical definition of Open Source licensing and the manifesto of the Open Source movement in software. He is co-founder of the Open Source Initiative. Through this work he has indelibly changed the worldwide practice of software development. As one of the leading investigators of the function of Open Source software in economics and policy, with hundreds of scientific citations to his work, he continues to be a path-finder in this area.
Perens is author of Open Standards, Principles and Practice, a widely-cited definition of Open Standards. He served on the World-Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Patent Policy Board during the formation of W3C's policy for patents in standards, and helped to achieve the independence of the basic standards of the web from royalty-bearing patents.
Perens was one of the early leading developers of a "Linux distribution". The Linux kernel is not useful "on its own", it requires other programs to interact with the user. When the kernel and a large collection of other software are combined into a complete system, that's called a "Linux distribution". Perens was the second project leader of the Debian distribution, building the project from 60 volunteer developers to several hundred. He led the project through some early and very critical work such as the transition from COFF executables and the original forked Linux C library to ELF executables and the common GNU LIBC.
Perens was employed at two of the founding institutions of 3-D character-animated computer graphics: Pixar and its predecessor the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab, where many of the Pixar founders had been employed. He was part of the genesis of the field, playing a role in the development of development of Pixar leading to the first full-length 3-D computer-animated feature film, Toy Story (un-credited). He has a credit in A Bug's Life and Toy Story II. His software was a component of the Kodak Cineon system, and was used to retouch the film Snow White (un-credited) on its 50th anniversary and to do rig-removal (removal of the protective cables from the picture when an actor flies or falls) in the Terminator films (un-credited) and many others (also un-credited).
Perens spent 19 years as a full-time employee in the film industry, leaving in 1999 to work full-time on Open Source and Linux. He is still occasionally active in film. He was scriptwriter and executive producer of the video advertisement Impending Security Breach! for Sourcelabs in 2007, and appears in the documentaries Revolution OS and The Code-Breakers.
Perens founded No-Code International in 1997 to pursue reform of the laws governing licensing of ham radio operators worldwide. An old treaty required that all Radio Amateurs who were licensed to communicate below 30 megahertz would have to be tested on their ability to manually copy Morse Code messages. In addition, the national law of many nations set the required Morse code speed so high that it was very difficult to learn. This is due to fears by the Amateurs themselves in the 1930s that their frequencies would be crowded to overflowing by newcomers, and because governments viewed the Amateurs as a pre-trained pool of telegraph operators who would be available to the military in wartime. For example, the U.S. required a 13 word-per-minute speed, so fast that it's not possible to pick individual dots and dashes out of the message, the operator must instead learn to recognize the sound of a letter.
Voice communications became the norm over Amateur Radio after an efficient type of voice transmitter (SSB) became affordable in the 1950s. Governments mostly lost interest in Morse code proficiency for military use after the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war, due to the widespread availability of lightweight voice and data radio equipment. But Amateur Radio law continued to require Morse into the 21st century. Perens and many collaborators were able to get a change in the International Telecommunications Union Treaty, Section S25.5, so that international law would no longer require Morse code. Most national administrations dropped their code requirements after that change, with the US FCC finally doing so in 2007 after sitting on a rule-making to do so for four years. Today only Russia is known to require Morse code examinations in its ham radio license examination. Two ham radio organizations, ARRL and the mostly ARRL-controlled international IARU, were responsible for much of the resistance to dropping of Morse code testing, for fear that a flood of operators would invade the band and lead to disorderly operations like those on CB. ARRL and IARU eventually capitulated on the issue after a 30-year battle, as the advent of the Internet had made a flood of new operators into Amateur Radio unlikely. Amateur Radio remains a very important tool for education, experimentation, emergency communications, and international goodwill.
Some of Perens' recent work has been at Agder University in Kristiansand, Norway, sponsored by a grant from the Competence Fund of Western Norway. Perens' was affiliated with the Cyber Security Policy Research Institute of George Washington University for some of his past research.