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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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It may be foolish to consider Eric Raymond's recent collection of essays, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the most important computer programming thinking to follow the Internet revolution. But it would be more unfortunate to overlook the implications and long-term benefits of his fastidious description of open-source software development considering the growing dependence businesses and economies have on emerging computer technologies.
The Cathedral and the Bazaar takes its title from an essay Raymond read at the 1997 Linux Kongress. The essay documents Raymond's acquisition, re-creation, and numerous revisions of an e-mail utility known as fetchmail. Raymond engagingly narrates the fetchmail development process while elaborating on the ongoing bazaar development method he uses with the help of volunteer programmers. The essay smartly spares the reader from the technical morass that could easily detract from the text's goal of demonstrating the efficacy of the open-source, or bazaar, method in creating robust, usable software.
Once Raymond has established the components and players necessary for an optimally running open-source model, he sets out to counter the conventional wisdom of private, closed-source software development. Like superbly written code, the author's arguments systematically anticipate their rebuttals. For programmers who "worry that the transition to open source will abolish or devalue their jobs," Raymond adeptly and factually counters that "most developer's salaries don't depend on software sale value." Raymond's uncanny ability to convince is as unrestrained as his capacity for extrapolating upon the promise of open-source development.
In addition to outlining the open-source methodology and its benefits, Raymond also sets out to salvage the hacker moniker from the nefarious connotations typically associated with it in his essay, "A Brief History of Hackerdom" (not surprisingly, he is also the compiler of The New Hacker's Dictionary). Recasting hackerdom in a more positive light may be a heroic undertaking in itself, but considering the Herculean efforts and perfectionist motivations of Raymond and his fellow open-source developers, that light will shine brightly. --Ryan Kuykendall --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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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!
I you like a deeper work on Linux development, I can recommend the book "Rebel Code" by Glyn Moody.
fetchmail, is an open-source software utility to retrieve e-mail from a remote mail server. It was developed by Eric S. Raymond from the popclient program, written by Carl Harris. Its chief significance is perhaps that its author, Eric S. Raymond, used it as a model to discuss his theories of open source software development in this book. Some programmers, including Dan Bernstein, getmail creator Charles Cazabon and FreeBSD developer Terry Lambert, have criticized fetchmail's design], its number of security holes, and that it was prematurely put into "maintenance mode". In 2004, a new team of maintainers took over fetchmail development, and laid out development plans that in some cases broke with design decisions that Eric Raymond had made in earlier versions.
The essays in the book describe open-source software, the process of systematically harnessing open develplment and decentralized peer review to lower costs and improve software quality. contrasts two different free software development models:
- The Cathedral model, in which source code is available with each software release, but code developed between releases is restricted to an exclusive group of software developers. GNU Emacs and GCC are presented as examples.
- The Bazaar model, in which the code is developed over the Internet in view of the public. Raymond credits Linus Torvalds, leader of the Linux kernel project, as the inventor of this process. Raymond also provides anecdotal accounts of his own implementation of this model for the fetchmail project.
The essay's central thesis is Raymond's proposition that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow" (which he terms Linus' law): the more widely available the source code is for public testing, scrutiny, and experimentation, the more rapidly all forms of bugs will be discovered. In contrast, Raymond claims that an inordinate amount of time and energy must be spent hunting for bugs in the Cathedral model, since the working version of the code is available only to a few developers.
When O'Reilly Media published the book in 1999, it achieved another distinction by being the first complete and commercially distributed book published under the Open Publication License.
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.
Yes, it's dated. Yes, all the references are 20 years old. That doesn't make any of the main points of the book any less valid. The software world has changed. This book is the original book that explains why. And it's still the gold standard on the Open Source movement.
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It is, as it advertises, an inner guide to some aspects of the life of a 'hacker'.Read more