Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution

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The open source saga has many fascinating chapters. It is partly the story of Linus Torvalds, the master hacker who would become chief architect of the Linux operating system. It is also the story of thousands of devoted programmers around the world who spontaneously worked in tandem to complete the race to shape Linux into the ultimate killer app. Rebel Code traces the remarkable roots of this unplanned revolution. It echoes the twists and turns of Linux's improbable development, as it grew through an almost biological process of accretion and finally took its place at the heart of a jigsaw puzzle that would become the centerpiece of open source. With unprecedented access to the principal players, Moody has written a powerful tale of individual innovation versus big business. Rebel Code provides a from-the-trenches perspective and looks ahead to how open source is challenging long-held conceptions of technology, commerce, and culture.
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About the author

Glyn Moody is a London-based writer who has been covering Linux almost since its inception. He has published major features on it in Wired, New Scientist, and Salon, and has written for The Economist and the Financial Times.
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3.5
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Additional Information

Publisher
Basic Books
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Published on
Feb 18, 2009
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Pages
344
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ISBN
9780786745203
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Freely available source code, with contributions from thousands of programmers around the world: this is the spirit of the software revolution known as Open Source. Open Source has grabbed the computer industry's attention. Netscape has opened the source code to Mozilla; IBM supports Apache; major database vendors haved ported their products to Linux. As enterprises realize the power of the open-source development model, Open Source is becoming a viable mainstream alternative to commercial software.Now in Open Sources, leaders of Open Source come together for the first time to discuss the new vision of the software industry they have created. The essays in this volume offer insight into how the Open Source movement works, why it succeeds, and where it is going.For programmers who have labored on open-source projects, Open Sources is the new gospel: a powerful vision from the movement's spiritual leaders. For businesses integrating open-source software into their enterprise, Open Sources reveals the mysteries of how open development builds better software, and how businesses can leverage freely available software for a competitive business advantage.The contributors here have been the leaders in the open-source arena:Brian Behlendorf (Apache)Kirk McKusick (Berkeley Unix)Tim O'Reilly (Publisher, O'Reilly & Associates)Bruce Perens (Debian Project, Open Source Initiative)Tom Paquin and Jim Hamerly (mozilla.org, Netscape)Eric Raymond (Open Source Initiative)Richard Stallman (GNU, Free Software Foundation, Emacs)Michael Tiemann (Cygnus Solutions)Linus Torvalds (Linux)Paul Vixie (Bind)Larry Wall (Perl)This book explains why the majority of the Internet's servers use open- source technologies for everything from the operating system to Web serving and email. Key technology products developed with open-source software have overtaken and surpassed the commercial efforts of billion dollar companies like Microsoft and IBM to dominate software markets. Learn the inside story of what led Netscape to decide to release its source code using the open-source mode. Learn how Cygnus Solutions builds the world's best compilers by sharing the source code. Learn why venture capitalists are eagerly watching Red Hat Software, a company that gives its key product -- Linux -- away.For the first time in print, this book presents the story of the open- source phenomenon told by the people who created this movement.Open Sources will bring you into the world of free software and show you the revolution.
Much of the innovative programming that powers the Internet, creates operating systems, and produces software is the result of "open source" code, that is, code that is freely distributed--as opposed to being kept secret--by those who write it. Leaving source code open has generated some of the most sophisticated developments in computer technology, including, most notably, Linux and Apache, which pose a significant challenge to Microsoft in the marketplace. As Steven Weber discusses, open source's success in a highly competitive industry has subverted many assumptions about how businesses are run, and how intellectual products are created and protected.

Traditionally, intellectual property law has allowed companies to control knowledge and has guarded the rights of the innovator, at the expense of industry-wide cooperation. In turn, engineers of new software code are richly rewarded; but, as Weber shows, in spite of the conventional wisdom that innovation is driven by the promise of individual and corporate wealth, ensuring the free distribution of code among computer programmers can empower a more effective process for building intellectual products. In the case of Open Source, independent programmers--sometimes hundreds or thousands of them--make unpaid contributions to software that develops organically, through trial and error.

Weber argues that the success of open source is not a freakish exception to economic principles. The open source community is guided by standards, rules, decisionmaking procedures, and sanctioning mechanisms. Weber explains the political and economic dynamics of this mysterious but important market development.



Table of Contents:

Preface

1. Property and the Problem of Software
2. The Early History of Open Source
3. What Is Open Source and How Does It Work?
4. A Maturing Model of Production
5. Explaining Open Source: Microfoundations
6. Explaining Open Source: Macro-Organization
7. Business Models and the Law
8. The Code That Changed the World?

Notes
Index



Reviews of this book:
In the world of open-source software, true believers can be a fervent bunch. Linux, for example, may act as a credo as well as an operating system. But there is much substance beyond zealotry, says Steven Weber, the author of The Success of Open Source...An open-source operating system offers its source code up to be played with, extended, debugged, and otherwise tweaked in an orgy of user collaboration. The author traces the roots of that ethos and process in the early years of computers...He also analyzes the interface between open source and the worlds of business and law, as well as wider issues in the clash between hierarchical structures and networks, a subject with relevance beyond the software industry to the war on terrorism.
--Nina C. Ayoub, Chronicle of Higher Education

Reviews of this book:
A valuable new account of the [open-source software] movement.
--Edward Rothstein, New York Times

We can blindly continue to develop, reward, protect, and organize around knowledge assets on the comfortable assumption that their traditional property rights remain inviolate. Or we can listen to Steven Weber and begin to make our peace with the uncomfortable fact that the very foundations of our familiar "knowledge as property" world have irrevocably shifted.
--Alan Kantrow, Chief Knowledge Officer, Monitor Group

Ever since the invention of agriculture, human beings have had only three social-engineering tools for organizing any large-scale division of labor: markets (and the carrots of material benefits they offer), hierarchies (and the sticks of punishment they impose), and charisma (and the promises of rapture they offer). Now there is the possibility of a fourth mode of effective social organization--one that we perhaps see in embryo in the creation and maintenance of open-source software. My Berkeley colleague Steven Weber's book is a brilliant exploration of this fascinating topic.
--J. Bradford DeLong, Department of Economics, University of California at Berkeley

Steven Weber has produced a significant, insightful book that is both smart and important. The most impressive achievement of this volume is that Weber has spent the time to learn and think about the technological, sociological, business, and legal perspectives related to open source. The Success of Open Source is timely and more thought provoking than almost anything I've come across in the past several years. It deserves careful reading by a wide audience.
--Jonathan Aronson, Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California
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