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Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project Paperback – October 14, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (October 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596007590
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596007591
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 9.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #926,740 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

In 1995, Karl Fogel co-founded Cyclic Software, a company offering commercial CVS support. In 1999 he added support for CVS anonymous read-only repository access, inaugurating a new standard for access to development sources in open source projects. That same year, he wrote "Open Source Development With CVS" (published by Coriolis), now in its third edition via Paraglyph Press.

Since early 2000, he has worked for CollabNet, Inc, managing the creation and development of Subversion, a version control system written from scratch by CollabNet and a team of open source volunteers, and meant to replace CVS as the de facto standard among open source projects. He also participates in various other open source projects as a module maintainer, patch contributor, and documentation writer.


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Customer Reviews

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The book is well written.
Andrew Pape
I would rate this book a *good to read* for developers who want to better understand what their project managers and leaders are trying to manage.
Michael Tiemann
The ideas are well worth the read and it's an enjoyable ride to take.
Dan McKinnon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Duff HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 8, 2005
Format: Paperback
Seems like everyone wants to have a open source project these days. But it's not as easy to run a successful project as you might think. In order to get started on the right foot and increase your chance of success, I would recommend reading Karl Fogel's Producing Open Source Software - How To Run A Successful Free Software Project.

Contents: Introduction; Getting Started; Technical Infrastructure; Social and Political Infrastructure; Money; Communications; Packaging, Releasing, and Daily Development; Managing Volunteers; Licenses, Copyrights, and Patents; Free Version Control Systems; Free Bug Trackers; Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is?; Example Instructions for Reporting Bugs; Index

Fogel definitely has the "cred" to write this book. He's spent five years working on the Subversion open source version control system. While not (yet?) the default open source version control system out there, it's rapidly gaining traction. As a result, you figure that Fogel and company must have done a few things right along the way. He does a very nice job in explaining what makes for a successful open source project in terms of tools, structure, and most importantly, culture. He identifies open source projects that have successfully created a culture that encourages participation without dictatorial control. He even addresses how to deal with people issues like monopolizing discussion boards. Those are items that most techies aren't good at, and having a guide like this is priceless.

At times the book seems to be rather dense, as in a lot of text with little to break it up. I think it's because there's no real use of graphics or code samples to a large degree. I wouldn't expect it in a book like this, either.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Stellman on November 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
Karl Fogel does a fantastic job of covering everything you need to know about open source projects. It contains everything you need to know about contributing to an open source projects: how to interact with other contributors, working with version control, contributing code, etc. He also provides an excellent guide for running an open source project. The book covers a great deal of ground, giving excellent advice on a wide range of topics: selecting a license; maintaining a mailing list, defect tracking system and version control repository; providing a website; interacting with committers; dealing with technical people; gathering consensus; and understanding important project management concepts. Karl is a veteran of several highly visible and widely used open source projects, and clearly draws on his extensive experiences (both positive and negative). The style is pleasantly conversational, and it's clear that he really knows what he's talking about and is speaking from a position of authority.

(Full Disclosure: I was a technical reviewer for this book, and was thoroughly impressed with it while reviewing it.)
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Eric Jain on January 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
Didn't expect much useful information. But somehow this guy manages to talk about soft issues such as communication and politics without getting lost in the clouds. The book is more of a field guide than an anthropological study, so instead of speculation about what keeps participants motivated, you'll find practical advice how to keep people motivated and how to deal with specific problems. Should be read not only by people running open source projects, but by anyone who is somehow involved in an open source projects, and perhaps by everyone doing software development, too!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Tiemann on March 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Karl Fogel has the right credentials for the subject of producing open source software. His technical background and entrepreneurial experience help provide informed insight about the very real trade-offs that every developer must face in order to write the best code, appeal to the most users/customers, keep a project on track, and build enough credibility and capital to be able to do it again better the next time.

I would rate this book a *must read* for open source project leaders and product/project managers who have a substantial interest in succeeding with open source software. I would rate this book a *good to read* for developers who want to better understand what their project managers and leaders are trying to manage.

One of the best aspects of this book is the fact that it was developed and published by folks who really understand open source software, and who will, when the time is right, issue a revised and updated edition when sufficient constructive feedback/learning experiences have been received. This continuous community relationship is why this book is a *must read* for managers: it is the best of its class, and even if you disagree with some aspect of it, you can hash that out in public and expect your criticism to be dealt with in future editions. If you don't read it, you can't criticize it, and it won't be better for you the next time around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Broadmeadow on November 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There is a lot of good experiential knowledge in this book and I'm glad I picked it up. However, some of the more pragmatic aspects of open source projects like the hosts, mailing lists, IM, bug tracking, version control and that sort are dated. The author could restore this book to top flight status if he just took the time to update these elements. It'd take him all of one week, if that.
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