I've been reading the FreeBSD Release Notes for version 1.1, published in 1993. Two things are interesting to me here:
- The only name in the old core team I recognize is Jordan Hubbard, and he's not a FreeBSD developer any more (joined Apple for Mac OS X)
- Some problems, both technical and organizational, are always repeating themselves.
These things are "normal" and present not only in Open-source projects but in the entire industry (and of course in other industries), and are actually a sign of a healthy enteprise. Developers / employees arrive and leave, some stay as graybeard alumni to teach the next generation, etc. and the technology itself has a sort of cycle to itself that makes old things new again.
While the core list is almost full of unknown people, I recognize some names from the Additional FreeBSD helpers and beta testers list - like Julian Elischer, Jeffrey Hsu, Bruce Evans and Terry Lambert. AFAIK most if not all of them were at some point in time on the core roster. One of the most interesting aspects of the FreeBSD project (edit: actually of all early BSDs - OpenBSD was the first to adopt this trend) is the notable absence of a Linus Torvalds kind of person, one who has actively been the leader from its start. Instead, we have a list of people who have been with the project in many roles practically from its CSRG roots, some 30 years ago. To see why all this is good imagine if the reverse was true - if the original core team was active even now, same old developers working on same old things - it would certanly be a sign of stagnation.
Some organizational issues repeat themselves (again everywhere, not only in Open-source projects) - developers come and go, there are issues of supporting and charging for support, distribution and further development, etc. FreeBSD is also an interesting project from this aspect, as it has risen practically exclusively on its own merit, without support from huge companies pushing their agenda.
At last, technological problems reappear also, even completely mirrored from the past. In 1993 the problem all operating systems had was with ISA-based machines with more than 16 MB of memory (which was the maximum addressible by the bus), and now we have similar problem with low quality hardware (both motherboard and add-on cards) when used with more than 4 GB of memory (which is the maximum amount addressible in 32 bits). Same old, same old.