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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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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
Mr. Raymond is a very good thinker from an economic, sociologial, and anthropological level, and applies these perspectives well in the essays in this book.
Because he assumes you may not know about the development of the open source movement, his essay, A Brief History of Hackerdom, fills in the gaps. By the way, he defines a hacker as a capable software developer who loves his or her work rather than someone who breaks into other peoples' computer systems.
The centerpiece of the book is the essay with the book's title. This essay describes his own experiences in developing an open source e-mail utility, draws lessons from that experience, and compares it to the development of Linux (the primary open source operating system). I knew the Linux story well (if you don't, you should, and this essay will be valuable to you), so I was primarily drawn to the discussion of the author's own experiences.Read more ›
I like the way the author gets down to business in regard to what computing is all about: program languages talking to hardware. He explains how hackers (as opposed to crackers) have been playing with computers before there were PCs or Macs. Having worked as a PC\LAN technician for the past eight years, I found Raymond's hacker viewpoint to be a unifying thread through the current maze of operating systems, networking and hardware. Because his explanations aren't vendor-specific, I don't have to spend days poring over manuals and web pages - just hours.
Additionally, Raymond's explanation of the open source movement and its relation to the information tech industry cuts through the fog of white papers and propaganda from Microsoft, Novell, Cisco, etc. For example, I didn't realize that 60% of the internet servers actually run on Apache software.
The only drawback to this book is that Raymond himself can be foggy. His writing style can lapse into long collections of words like:
"Most people have an intuitive model of cooperative behavior that goes much like this. It's not actually a good diagnosis of the economic problems of open-source, which are free-rider (underprovision) rather than congested-public-good (overuse). Nevertheless, it is the analogy I hear behind most off-the-cuff objections."
What the hell does that mean, Eric? Surely, clarity is a virtue to be cultivated in both programming AND documentation. It's worth noting that Mr. Raymond is the most obscure when discussing business and financial implications of the open source movement.
Still, the book has helped me a lot, which is why it rates four stars.
Taken as a whole, the book makes a series of good business cases for when opening the source code to software is appropriate and potentially profitable -- as well as maximally efficient. I was pleased that Raymond acknowledges that open source is _not_ always the best way to go, even while noting that it will probably be more prevalent over time.
Raymond's fervour about open source shows through, particularly late in the book, but it doesn't detract from the largely objective analyses he makes -- so his arguments carry force.
Worth reading for anyone who's a programmer, a hacker, or interested in the politics of the software business. Or anyone else, for that matter.
Linux is the focus of this branch of the hacker-programming movement, which can also be seen at work in Apache and Java. The nature of the movement - everyone agreeing to play by Open Source rules, a leader (Linus Torvalds) who sets goals but does not exert formal authority, and a market (the Bazaar) where knowledge is dispersed throughout, reminds one of the Austrian Economists, who believed that a system operating as a spontaneous order would show greater productivity than a command economy, because of the exponentially greater amount of brain power in use. Raymond makes much the same point, when he argues that, "With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow."
For Microsoft, this is a deadly threat. Proprietary software and operating systems are expensive, to develop and to buy. If Open Source products are seen as being of like kind and quality, them software becomes a commodity, and branded, proprietary products, and the businesses that sell them, are facing inevitible decline in their core market.
If Raymond's thesis is correct (I believe, as a layman, that it is), then by 2010, Windows may have gone the way of the British Empire - living in memore (digital or otherwise) only.
-LLoyd A. Conway
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Even in 2016 this is still a terrific read for those interested in hacking, GNU/Linux, and the open source world at large. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alex Hunt
I really enjoyed the first half of this book, although it does seem heavy on unneeded words. The second half though is disjointed and seems more like an edit to a blog than a book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Grayson Kent
This book gives clues to how tenuous and also explosive the real economy is.
It is, as it advertises, an inner guide to some aspects of the life of a 'hacker'. Read more
I cannot believe this incredible book is out of print!Published 18 months ago by Warwick Bruce Chapman
Eric Raymond is a clear thinker who's work is well worth the time and price. It is simply amazing how thoroughly he explains his subject, as well as extending this to society,... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mark A. Mason
The pan-ultimate book in order to understand the birth and evolution and ecology of the open-source software.Published 19 months ago by Andrew
Clear message, easy to read and understand. I wish more books about software were like this.Published 22 months ago by Chris
I wish I had read this 20 years ago. Many puzzle pieces fell in place. Half the hyperlink s severed.Published 23 months ago by CadMonkey
I WANT TO SEE THE TABLE CONTENTS OF AMAZON BOOKS!!!Published on August 4, 2014 by José Monserrat Neto