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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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Top Customer Reviews
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!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is, as it advertises, an inner guide to some aspects of the life of a 'hacker'.Read more