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The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary Paperback – February 8, 2001
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About the Author
Eric Raymond is an Open Source evangelist and author of the highly influential paper "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"
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As we observe the rapidly growing sophistication and worldwide popularity of such open source applications as the Firefox browser and the GNU/Linux operating system, certain questions arise; e.g., how is it that such computer applications, completely free to anyone for the downloading, are "economically" possible in the first place, and how can they be of such superb quality that they are considered by many to be superior to the best products on the market from Microsoft, Apple, and the legions of producers of "proprietary" (= not free) software products?
Historically, the author documents important aspects of the philosophy underlying the open source movement, as well as seminal events in its evolution during the 1980's and 1990's. This he does in the context of describing the interplay and conflicts that occurred between the two most famous figures behind that movement: Richard Stallman, creator of the GNU utilities, and Linus Torvalds, godfather of the Linux operating system.
Of ongoing value is the discussion of how good software is best created. Raymond makes a strong case for the advantages of the open source approach. In doing so, he helps explain the important, and often misunderstood, distinction between the common conception of open source software being "free" (i.e., available at no cost) and the more important meaning of it being "free" in the sense of "free speech."
This book is a must read for anyone interested in the history and development of the open source software movement. If you're not yet informed about the importance of that movement, its philosophy, and the quality of its products, I'll leave you with two thoughts: (1) about 75% of the web servers on the internet are running the Linux operating system and Apache webserver software -- both open source products -- and (2) open source appears to be the only mechanism by which a huge part of the world, that can not afford Apple's overpriced computers or Microsoft's pecuniary operating systems, will be able to boot-strap themselves into the information age.
Dull? Boring? No! This book is fascinating. It contrasts the structured corporate form of computer software development (the Cathedral) and the altruistic generous world of open source software development (the Bazaar). In the Bazaar, thousands of men and women invest their time to compose and/or debug software works in progress; they create it, they perfect it ... and then they make it **freely** available to you and me. It wouldn't seem like an arrangement like that could survive, let alone flourish, but it does. It's quite an eye-opener!
Decide if you'd like to learn about these brilliant minds of the 20th and 21st centuries. If you like this book then read, "Soul of a New Machine." Also, if you can, watch the documentary movie, "Revolution OS."
Postscript, April 23, 2012:
If you enjoy reading about people with extraordinary intelligence regarding computers and computer programs, read on.
Are you "on Facebook?"
You might be interested to learn about the history of this website and of the people who invented it and founded it. The movie, "The Social Network" tells the story. The movie is very intense and you may have to take rest periods or intermissions when you see it. It's great!
I also highly recommend the book, "The Accidental Billionaires" by Ben Mezrich. This is a more detailed account. Again, I think it's great!
This book dropped in my lap one day, and I decided to read it.
By the end of the book I had quit my job and joined a startup which was based on open-source technologies. I was paid a pittance relative to my previous job, but I didn't care. The work was far more interesting. And I am a man who gets bored very, very easily.
Best decision I ever made. My success is going to dwarf that of my former coworkers who valued security over "winging it."
True story. Amazing book. Spoke to my gut. Nice work, Eric S. Raymond.
Raymond covers topics ranging from the inner workings of an open source application development effort to the economics of open versus closed source software. Some of the writing (and thinking) here is quite advanced and complex -- Raymond pulls no punches nor oversimplifies a complex set of topics.
By way of example, Raymond notes, "...the [open-source] culture's adaptation to its circumstances manifests both as conscious ideology and as implicit, unconscious or semi-conscious knowledge." I highlight this point so that the reader has some sense of what to expect with this publication -- the book is thought-provoking and requires significant thinking and attention -- a sign of a good book, in my opinion.
For a thorough, intelligent, and broadly interesting treatise on open-source software and general technology principles, this is an excellent book. I highly recommend this book.
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