Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution is a fascinating look at the raging debate that is its namesake. Filled with writings from the central players--from Linux creator Linus Torvalds to Perl creator Larry Wall--the book convinces the reader of the overwhelming merits of freeing up the many iterations of software's source code.
The open-source movement has become a cause célèbre in light of the widespread adoption of Linux, Perl, and Apache as well as its corporate support from Netscape, IBM, and Oracle--and strongly felt opposition from Microsoft. Open Sources doesn't address why these Microsoft foes are throwing their weight behind the movement. Instead, it focuses on the history and philosophy of open-source software (previously referred to as freeware) as an argument for shaping the future of programming. Open Sources is much larger than just a fight with any one company. Instead, it is a revolutionary call to release software development from the vested interests that label new directions in software development as threatening.
This is not to say that opening the source code is an entirely egalitarian and communistic endeavor. These are programmers and startup owners; they want to be able to continue to program for a living. To that end, Open Sources
contains strong business profiles from entrepreneurs such as Apache's--and now, O'Reilly & Associates'--Brian Behlendorf, who discusses how to give away software in order to lure customers in for specialized versions. In many ways, this is a hands-on guide, displaying an insider's view of the development process and providing specifics on testing details and altering licensing agreements. However, interspersed with tech talk is a reader-friendly guide for those interested in the future of software development.
The idea for open source software began years ago with Richard Stallman, who at the time was considered crazy for proposing that computer code be free to all to use as they see fit as long as they posted the changed code for the common good. Along the way he won a MacArthur ("Genius") award, Linus Torvalds created Linux, and Brian Behlendorf developed Apache, the most used free web server package. This collection of writings by the leaders of the open source movement offers readers a chance to think about the past and how it will change the future of software development.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.