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Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution Hardcover – January 23, 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (January 23, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738203335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738203331
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,610,883 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Everyone in computing has heard of Linux--hundreds of millions use it every day. Every Net user accesses Linux systems dozens of times during any Net session. Yet, because people associate products with companies, Linux--with its thousands of largely anonymous volunteer developers and free availability--is a difficult fit with our world view.

Rebel Code puts Linux into historical and social contexts. Based largely on interviews with the main players and precise historical data (Linux kernel releases are dated to the second), it traces "free software" from its early '80s origin--with Robert Stallman's founding of the GNU Project--and takes it as far as the end of 2000--with GNU/Linux becoming a worldwide phenomenon that runs handheld PDAs, PCs and Macs, IBM mainframes, and the world's biggest supercomputers.

Glyn Moody charts every milestone in the development of the Linux kernel, from Linus Torvalds's first installation of Minix. As importantly, he follows the progress of major "free software" projects (essential to the success of GNU/Linux) from Emacs and GCC to Sendmail and XFree 86, and finishes with KDE and Gnome.

The end result is a curiously exciting and compulsively readable tale that compares with Tracy Kidder's book, The Soul of a New Machine. It's endlessly fascinating, and you'll be up reading well past your bedtime. --Steve Patient, Amazon.co.uk

About the Author

Glyn Moody is a London-based writer who has tracked, used, and written about Linux almost since its inception. He has published major features on it in Wired, Computer Weekly, and The New Scientist.

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Customer Reviews

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If you enjoyed _Hackers_, by Steven Levy, or if you are interested in computing, this book is a must read.
"ram_crammer"
If you are interested in the elaborate history of open source projects such as emacs, gcc, linux, perl, etc... then this is the book for you.
Patrick
It's a little hard to put up with - not least of all due to the books age, which gives the optimistic tone a pretty withering context.
Erica Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Primoz Peterlin on February 21, 2001
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has been tracking the progress of Linux since 1992, and has been using it continuously since 1994, I have been looking for some years now - at least since 1998, when Linux hit the mainstream news - who is going be the first to come up with a history of Linux; something among similar lines as Gleick did for chaos theory. Now we have the winner: Glyn Moody, a British IT journalist.
Not always organized in a chronological order, Rebel Code follows the progress of Linux and several other open-source projects (XFree86, Sendmail, Perl, Apache, Samba...) from the grandfather of Linux, Unix, in late sixties; then we follow the stories of Andrew Tannenbaum's Minix system and Richard Stallman's project GNU through the eighties, until we finally arrive to the beginnings of Linux in 1991. From then on, we follow it rise and blossom, with its added functionalities, with the first contributors to the kernel starting to appear, and then the first Linux distributions.
If the first half of the book deals mostly with technical topics, the second half - following the decision of Netscape Corporation to open the source code of their Web browser - is mostly concerned with the socio-economical issues of the open source model, the differences between it and the idea of free software; the huge initial success of the IPOs of open-source companies (Moody is much less vocal about the fact that they lost most of their values a year later), possible alternative uses of Linux (handheld and internet appliances) and musings on the possible future of the free/open source movement.
Speaking of the latter, I miss a more thorough and independent analysis on whether the author sees the free/open source development model as a sustainable strategy or just a part of the dotcom craze.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "ram_crammer" on April 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
If you enjoyed _Hackers_, by Steven Levy, or if you are interested in computing, this book is a must read. Moody tracks the history of the Open Source movement from its inception in the AI lab at MIT up to the present, and along the way shows the people and events that have propelled the movement forward to its present pace. I was left with a profound and indubitable realization that open source is the future of software, and that realization is exhilerating.
The book is impeccably researched and organized, but occasionally I was left stumbling over some awkward phrasing. Some of the prose, especially some of the idioms, could benefit from a redaction. Nevertheless, if you read only one book this year, this book must be the one. It's a powerful message, with an absorbing delivery.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
I very much enjoyed this book. Mr Moody writes well and entertainingly about the origins of the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Movement. The historic characters in the drama are well drawn and engaging. Time and again I'd remark 'So, that's where he/it came from!' as Moody traced the origin of Apache or Samba or Alan Cox. I was very much reminded of the excellent history of the PC 'Fire in the Valley' that traces the origins of the PC industry to where we find it today. I would recommend Rebel Code to someone interested in GNU/Linux and the inner workings of how it came to be. This is a book for the tech historian, not necessarily the hacker.
If I were to fault the book it would be that is is 3 years old. As such it misses the effect of the tech bust/recession on the Linux movement, and the growing successes it has achieved recently from the third world (e.g. China's Red Flag distribution) to supercomputing. I can only hope Mr. Moody will correct this fault with another edition.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Ali-Reza Anghaie on April 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Moody has done an excellent job of bringing to 'life' many of the key characters in this mini-revolution. He even stops and introduces aspects of their personal life that affect their work. He talks about many players including Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Larry Wall, Guido van Rossum, Eric Raymond, Ken Thompson, Andrew Tanenbaum, etc.
He touches on the hacker work ethic, the motives, the religious factors (both in a traditional sense and flame-war sense), and some of the great exploits of hacker lore.
My only complaint is his presentation of the 'other side'. I think it would've have been interesting if his closing pages were expanded to include more possible road-blocks for the movement. Although I agree that the books focus was supposed to be biased. :-)
Overall this book is just plain fun and informative. -Ali
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David Rankin on March 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
As a veteran programmer (on *nix, MS and Mac) I have read many "history of," "biography of," "story of" books, and I've enjoyed a lot of them. However, I can think of none that inspired me as much as this book. I thought it was very well-researched, incredibly entertaining, and, as I've already mentioned, truly inspiring. I don't see how any programmer could read this book and not want to go out and immediately develop something new, unique and revolutionary. For that matter, I don't see how anyone whose just interested in computers and technology could read this book and not want to immediately want to learn how to program. While I was reading it, I couldn't shut up about how great it was. Since I finished it, I find myself still thinking about it a lot--and I still can't shut up about it! I really don't think it matters what your techno-political background is, if you love programming, computers or just technology in general, I think you'll really enjoy this book.
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