Anyone who is familiar with the Linux community should recognize this phenomenon; it is the same thing as the proliferation of Linux Distributions. With a hobbyist community, an open license, and low startup costs, everyone wants to make their own “one true version”.
To get a sense of the scale of this, check this out:
Each one of those is a more or less independent, more or less compatible retro-clone of the Unix operating system.
This post is just a restatement of a comment I made over at Stefan Poag’s blog, but this idea has been in the back of my mind for a while. I’m surprised I haven’t seen this parallel drawn before, though it must have been. It seems really obvious to me. There must be a big overlap between RPG hobbyists and Unix hackers, and there are strong “old school” subcultures in both communities.
I think the same sociological forces are at work.