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Rebel Code

JonKatz posted more than 13 years ago | from the -the-story-of-Linux-and-Linus- dept.

Linux 140

Some of you may find it odd to see your own experiences and memories presented as social history. But according to a meticulously reported (but somewhat dry) new book Rebel Code: Inside Linux and the Open Source Revolution, Open Source has changed the world and isn't done yet. If you want to read a top-to-bottom account of how it happened, author Glyn Moody offers a good one. (Read more)


The author has a point: Open Source did turn out to be a revolution whose impact and implications went beyond the wildest dreams of its idealistic, obsessive creators and are ballooning beyond the software community and the Net.

Rebel code helped end the Microsoft era, is challenging the proprietary notions of commerce, intellectual property and censorship that have dominated business and information for a long time.

Rebel Code, by British author Glyn Moody is one of the first serious histories of this movement. It's an important story, and also a useful primer for anybody interested in how this increasingly complicated phenomenon came about.

Moody begins the book at the peak of Microsoft's rule, with the primal beginnings of Linux at the hands of Linus Torvalds, then a college student in Finland. He takes us through the development of the new system, all the way up to the newly-emerging business implications of GNU/Linux.

Today, he writes, the "open source revolution has moved on from the pioneers. Today, mainstream companies -- IBM, HP, COmpaq and SGI -- have all taken up open source in various ways. They depend critically neither on Unix, as Sun does, nor on open source, as Red Hat and other distributions do. Instead, they use both as elements of a broader strategy: selling hardware and services."

The central issue now, isn't whether Open Source companies can flourish and blossom into billion-dollar concerns, but whether free software can continue to grow and progress as it has for the last 15 years. He suggests the answer is yes.

Moody, a London-based writer who has used and written about Linux since its creation, has written for Wired, Computer Weekly and The London Financial Times. He knows his stuff. The book is crammed with OS arcania and minutiae: microkernels versus monolithic kernels and probability, and even the story of Eric Raymond's search for a new name that would be less ambiguous than "free software." (Moody credits Christine Peterson, president of the Foresight Institute, with coming up with the term "open source.")

This is probably the most definitive social chronicle of the creation of Linux and the evolution of the free software movement. It also explains why Open Source has become so important in terms of economics and business models.

Rebel Code is an investigative book with a distinctly-behind-the-scenes feel to it. It moves from tense programming breakthroughs to the cliques, feuds, business influences, ancillary discoveries and sometimes nasty politics that have marked the OS universe. All of the major players are interviewed here: Torvalds, Richard Stallman, Larry Wall, Brian Behlendorf, Michael Tiemann, and Eric Raymond among many others.

Moody belives that Torvalds is unique in part because he was able to serve as a focal point for complicated programming advances, a methodology that has allowed the delegation of software programming and architectural decisions to ever expanding circles of contributors and experts. Thanks to this style -- Moody calls it "power wielded in subservience to the user base" -- software can be written and distributed much more widely.

The author also believes that Stallman will be the leader of the Free Software movement for as long as he wishes to be, but, he says, "a worthy successor who has the rare mix of qualities necessary may already be emerging in the person of Miguel de Icaza."

It turns out that Rebel Code is the perfect name for the social upheaval that Torvalds touched off.

This is a good book to mark the end of the Microsoft Era, and good preparation for the beginning of another, hopefully more open one. If Rebel Code has a flaw, it is that it's dry reading. Moody has crammed so much reporting and information into this book, and moves so relentlessly from one event, programming advance, breakthrough and benchmark to another, the real implications and human drama of what's happening sometimes sometimes slips by. If you don't know the significance of code and programming breakthroughs, they can slide by. But those of you who've lived it will enjoy seeing your own experience morphed into a historical perspective by a skilled journalist.

The book has an authentic-in-the-trenches feel to it. And no matter how technical, the Open Source revolution is exciting far beyond the techie fold. Hollywood has even made a lousy movie about it -- "Antitrust." Reading Rebel Code, you're left with the feeling that this story is just beginning.

You can purchase this book at ThinkGeek.

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SciFi review (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#414194)

"Open Source has changed the world and isn't done yet"

I see it's a fictional book that's being reviewed this time around.

Re:The end of the Microsoft era? (1)

Eccles (932) | more than 13 years ago | (#414196)

Open Source is no more significant or worrisome to Microsoft than Apple

I disagree. Microsoft tends to make good money off of Apple owners who buy the Mac version of Office, etc. Linux is pulling people towards looking further for free versions of stuff, and rewards open source. Neither appeals to the folks in Redmond.

Re:Don't read this book - Write some code. (1)

MikeCamel (6264) | more than 13 years ago | (#414198)

Going hell for leather isn't always a good thing, even if the paradigm which you're following is working well. There are times when it helps to step back and think about how it's working, and maybe have a stab at improving it.

You'll get it wrong sometimes, and that's good - innovation's like that - but from time to time, a new model will come about. Having a good hard think about why OS works - as ESR did with The Cathedral and the Bazaar - can be productive in itself, and can work for hackers, not just management types.

Re:Don't read this book - Write some code. (1)

MikeCamel (6264) | more than 13 years ago | (#414199)

IMHO, there's a lot of point to this sort of book. Not everyone is a hacker, not everyone should be. But good history and theory can help record and legitimise a movement, and help the movement to evolve, as it surely will.

We need to get not only the hackers believing, but the press, the public, and, possibly most important, managers and corporates. We've seen recent stories about restrictive terms and conditions of employment, which basically stop people contributing to the Open Source movement. If we can educate managers and organisations, then maybe they (we, I) can be convinced that OSS is a good thing, and not just Open Source Software, openness (freeness) in other fields of endeavour as well.

Re:A flaw in the book? Or the review? (1)

merlyn (9918) | more than 13 years ago | (#414200)

or actively hostile to it (Perl, BSD)
Please cite your reference for where Perl is "hostile" to the "Free Software" people.

This is patently false. Perl itself is released under the GPL version 1, ever since I can recall.

Re:Open Source != Free Software (1)

shaka (13165) | more than 13 years ago | (#414202)

Of course there was "open source" or "free software" before Linux. In fact, this was the norm until sometimes in the 70's, even if it didn't have a spiffy name back then.

Bill Gates was actually one of the first to think of source code as their property, of which there are countless records.
Just read about the climate back when RMS was coding away at MIT way back in the days.

And what of DVRs? (1)

sleight (22003) | more than 13 years ago | (#414204)

Not to mention that Microsoft has also announced their entrance into the still-growing Digital Video Recorder market with their own DirectTV-TiVo combo challenger -- except that there's can record two different streams at the same time!

Microsoft is continuing to invade ever more markets, not fewer!

Re:I have a problem (1)

Crusadio (30981) | more than 13 years ago | (#414205)

A software developer once wanted to ask Stallman a question and started to say, "The light of Open Source serenely shines over the whole universe." Before he'd even finished the first line, Stallman suddenly interrupted, "Isn't that the poem of Eric Raymond?" The developer answered, "Yes, it is." Stallman said, "You've missed it."

Re:New? (1)

nijhof (44330) | more than 13 years ago | (#414208)

So is there anything new in this book? Yes, to me, anyway: for instance, how Alan Cox got to be the maintainer of the networking code in kernel 0.96xx instead of Fred van Kempen (wasn't he the guy who owned the linux.com domain?)


Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

BigNachos (50202) | more than 13 years ago | (#414210)

It's an interesting concept, but I don't see it ever happening. Currently, we can't manufacture anything and everything at no cost, but we can do it pretty damn cheaply. And, we have plenty of things in our civilization that are somewhat akin to open-source. For example, you can buy an automobile, crack open the hood, and tinker and hack away to your heart's content. You are (more or less) free to modify it however you like.

In fact, software is one of the few things that tends to be closed.

However, we are not anywhere near communism. We probably have the technology to support a society of equals, provided each person worked only 5 or so hours a week. Instead, we are working harder than ever. 40 hours/week is the minimum. 50 or 60 is common. And it's not because they enjoy working. The vast majority of people hate their jobs.

Basically, we, as a society, work way too hard, which gives us too much wealth, drives up inflation, and ultimately ends up in huge amounts of wealth for the people at the top. Consequently, we have multibillionaires like Bill Gates. Hell, we have so much wealth that we pay athletes enormous sums of money just to watch them play a game.

Most people are sheep. They don't have a clue what to do and need a higher authority to command them. That's why they'll spend 90% of their waking time doing stuff they hate no matter how illogical. And that's why equal societies unfortunately will never work.

Re:The Microsoft Era is over? (1)

kovi (52074) | more than 13 years ago | (#414211)

Although I agree M$ era is not over, and probably won't be any time soon, let me reply to your comment this way:

If Micro$oft has a true enemy, it is neither Open Source community nor GPL license - it's self-delusion and self-aggrandizement

This is more and more true nowadays then it has ever been.

Just a little premature? (1)

Jay Maynard (54798) | more than 13 years ago | (#414212)

While I agree with the premise, and it sounds like a good book to get, I do have reservations about one point: I'm not at all sure the Microsoft Era is over. I'm not even sure it's in decline yet. It's too prevalent, and far too many people are buying if just because it's Microsoft, to call it over.

End of the MS Era? (1)

owillis (74881) | more than 13 years ago | (#414215)

Hmm. I don't think so, not by a long shot. Open source, Linux, etc. are great - but it's not like Microsoft has rolled over...
OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]

wtf? (1)

jidar (83795) | more than 13 years ago | (#414216)

Whats the deal with the 3 value bits on the cover art? Sorry if I'm nitpicking here, but that bugs me in the same way that my math teacher always did when he wouldn't completely erase the chalk board but leave little edges here and there where he didn't quite get it all. Geez that was maddening.

End of the Microsoft Era (oh boy here we go) (1)

jidar (83795) | more than 13 years ago | (#414217)

"Rebel code helped end the Microsoft era."

Ugh. I groaned when I read that. I just knew the comments were going to be filled with tons of people who take that quote out of context and pointed out that the MS Era hasn't ended, and then get modded up +5. Admit it Katz, you were trolling.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

keyeto (113479) | more than 13 years ago | (#414220)

Socialism is a very broad term, and is usually considered to encompass Communism and Anarchism (not to be cofused with Libertarianism). Communism is usually used to mean state capitalism, while you seem to be using the term to refer to the usual understanding of Anarchism. I've seen some of your further posts, which make this distinction clearer, but without ever mentionism Anarchism.

No criticism is intended, I agree with the distinction, but following the usual understanding of techincal terms often reduces the need to explain...

Re:A flaw in the book? Or the review? (1)

illtud (115152) | more than 13 years ago | (#414222)

The book starts with linux? Open source, under whatever name it had, has been around since long before the first linux kernel was released. Linux did not touch off the revolution, if it is one. It might even be considered a counter-revolution since, in the beginning, open source was the norm.

Must a book begin at the beginning? Moody does know the history of "open source" software and explains it in the book. Most people don't have a problem with achronological narratives.

Problem with theory (1)

will_v_2000 (128117) | more than 13 years ago | (#414223)

Open Source is still far from being proven in *any* domain. Last time I checked, it appeared that IIS is slowly gaining market share -- especially among commercial sites-- and the majority of SSL sites used M$FT products. Also, a growing number of sites are using Java (open API? / closed implementation) to do things that used to be done with perl (open source.) Also, in a world where 1 billion people are still starving while waiting for their next meal, I think its overly optimistic to think that technology will overshadow industry anytime soon. Hell, most places still need a stable agriculture system. Although I still think this scenario *might* be possible in one or two thousand year from now, if we haven't blown ourselves to bits yet ;-)

Re:Rebel code (1)

Rysc (136391) | more than 13 years ago | (#414224)

Actually, Gates is more like the Emperor. Maybe Ballmer or one of the other high-up execs is Vader.

Hmmm... Linus Skywalker, Eric S Kenobi... Princess Stallman?

Re:I'd rather read about Microsoft (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 13 years ago | (#414226)

development work on the original version of MSDOS

Practicly stolen from Tom Peterson.

Windows 1.0

Just a port of Mac OS to an IBM box, and a poor one at that.

cut down version of a 1970s operating system then I'd go buy myself a PDP 11 or boot up that C/PM machine in my attic.

Unlike Win95/98/ME, which is based on DOS, and still has code from the early '80s (you're a few years more advanced! Horray!). At least Linux was a total rewrite of that 1970s OS, and that its base OS was much more solid to begin with.


Re:I see a battle like Star Wars going on. (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 13 years ago | (#414227)

I've been thinking more along the lines of Babylon 5. Last year was a lot like season 3:

The Babylon Project was our last, best hope for peace. It failed.

And all hell breaks loose. Reminds me a lot of DeCSS, absurd patents, and other such giant corperate mischief. Just replace "Babylon Project" with "Internet" and "peace" with "freedom", and you'll see what I mean.

Heres a mutilated version of season four's opening:

It was the year of fire . . . It was the year of chaos . . . It was the year of great sadness . . . It was the year of joy . . . It was the year we took back what was ours.

Is this what 2001 will be like? I can only hope.


Open Source != Free Software (1)

hardburn (141468) | more than 13 years ago | (#414228)

Free Software and Open Source are not the same thing, despite their various similarities. Their underlieing philosophies are diffrent, even though they often come to similar conclusions.


Re:I'd rather read about Microsoft (1)

Salsaman (141471) | more than 13 years ago | (#414230)

Errr..based on NT, which was a graphical hack of VMS...also from the 1970's

Re:Don't read this book - Write some code. (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#414233)

I think his point was that the people who Really Should know about Open Source will not read the book. Self-congratulating evangilists of the Open Source movement, like Mr. Katz, will read it, but if few others do then it is just a case of preaching to the choir, which goes on waaayy too much in the Linux world.

I'm not sure I agree with him on that point, though. Lots of people are very curious about exactly what all the Free Software stuff is about, and may grab this book off the shelf of their bookstore.

He is, however, on to something when he says that it is kind of silly for busy hackers, who were around to see all these events happen, to waste any time reading this book. If we all spent a little less time reading about the "history" of Open Source, and a little more time creating our own, Mozilla could get past the 0.x versions a little more quickly.

The part of Jon's review that caught my attention was this:

The author has a point: Open Source did turn out to be a revolution whose impact and implications went beyond the wildest dreams of its idealistic, obsessive creators and are ballooning beyond the software community and the Net.

Rebel code helped end the Microsoft era, is challenging the proprietary notions of commerce, intellectual property and censorship that have dominated business and information for a long time.

First of all, isn't it way too early to judge what the impact of the Open Source movement "was"?

Also, this is the second time in which Jon has written a review speaks of Microsoft as if died away recently, and as if we were all aware of this "fact". Is his FUD supposed to be a humorous effort to hoist Microsoft on their own pitard? Or did he perhaps ignore Nietzsche's warning about what happens when you fight with monsters?

Re:Don't read this book - Write some code. (1)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#414234)

I'm not saying that a programmer should never stop and reflect on things, I'm saying that it is very easy to spend so much time in reflection and contemplation, that you never get around to writing very much.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

YKnot (181580) | more than 13 years ago | (#414235)

You mixed up communism with socialism. In communism, there is no central control. Yes, there is no individual property in communism, but that is because there is no need for it. On the other hand you've just made yourself the example why true communism is much more than 100 years away...

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

YKnot (181580) | more than 13 years ago | (#414236)

There is not a single communist state in existence right now. Those are all socialist states. Communism won't work anytime soon. Don't fall for propaganda and mix up the names. Heidi was writing about communism, which - should it ever come true - is a good thing. Don't accept surrogates, though.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

YKnot (181580) | more than 13 years ago | (#414237)

True communism is just 100 years away? You gotta be kidding. When parents moan about how "degenerated" the next generation is, the grandparents usually remind them that from their point of view, not much has changed at all. Society's ways are *really* slow. Don't rush it or it might break. Again.

Re:Bandwagon. (1)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414238)


In that case I direct my chagrin at whoever wrote the the total misdirection in the top paragraphs...

All your open source are belong to us.



Re:I see a battle like Star Wars going on. (1)

core10k (196263) | more than 13 years ago | (#414240)

For the lov of God, shut up. Please, just shut up. You're an idiot.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

ACorvus (202386) | more than 13 years ago | (#414241)


I wish I had a point to mod the parent up; however if the previous poster did /really/ mean anarchy, as in the common interpretation of the word, as opposed to anarch*ism*, the political movement, he may have been nearly right.

I think that OSS is almost a blend of the populist meaning of 'anarchy', in that the fluff eventually gets weeded out, but in terms of its sharing mechanisms and its viewpoint, it's more the 'ism'. Shame we can't get the point across to policymakers, while Allchin gets his oar in and strikes a first (albeit stupid) blow for the establishment...

Re:wtf? (1)

tom.allender (217176) | more than 13 years ago | (#414246)

The thing that drives me mad is that the departments that JonKatz uses on his story submissions always have hyphens on the ends as well as in the middle! It's just so inconsistent!
can-arcades-rise-again? by timothy - Correct, fine, perfect even...
-the-story-of-Linux-and-Linus- by JonKatz - Irritating, distracting, pointlessly unusual.

That said, I have nothing against JonKatz's writing or opinions infact I think he's quite good.

Sorry about that...

Re:I'd rather read about Microsoft (1)

humantraffic (220145) | more than 13 years ago | (#414247)

What about Windows 2000? I think you'll find that a slightly more advanced operating system than the dinosaur junk you're using.

Actually I know all this.,.. (1)

humantraffic (220145) | more than 13 years ago | (#414248)

Just trying an experiment to see which types of trolls get modded down the quickest. Here's my results: Anti-Linux, pro-microsoft: 10 mins to get -1 Anti-civil liberties: 1hr 30 mins to get to 0 Anti-American: 3hrs to get 0 Obscue Ukanian reference to gays: never modded down

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

Carl Drougge (222479) | more than 13 years ago | (#414249)

E=mc^2, and once we figure out a practical way to use all the energy, energy-cost will really not be an issue.

Not that there aren't other factors that will make some things scarce anyway, but no small everyday thing will be expensive enough to make it worthwile to charge for it.

(Planets and the like will still be scarce though, of course. Living-space in general probably will.)

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

Bob Abooey (224634) | more than 13 years ago | (#414250)

I guess I'm sort of burned out with the "I'm an expert" stuff. I think that this account is pretty much used up really. It's taken longer than I thought but it seems that most people have either caught on or are simply bored with Bob's nonsense. I was going to try to at least look legit and shoot for the "America is superior" type troll but it's just to obvious I suppose, even though a month ago I had a few good ones.

I think it might be time to retire Bob unless I can come up with some new nonsense that amuses me. Until then Bob is pretty much up in the air.



I've read it last week... (1)

joestar (225875) | more than 13 years ago | (#414251)

It's an excellent book: extensive, very precise - it reports many funny anecdots about projects (Linux, GNOME, KDE, Apache... ) and actors (Linus, Richard...). It also covers stories that are generally hidden by big Open-Source medias, such as the Mandrakesoft's beginning (very interesting). I can recommend it! All people interested in Linux and Open-Source should read this book in order to understand what Free-Software/Open-Source is.

A large extract of the book is available here at Penguin.co.uk [penguin.co.uk] (note that it includes many typos which are not in the printed book.

You can buy it directly here on Amazon [amazon.com].

Re:Rebel code (1)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#414252)

Right-o. Sorry about that. Our president knows about Greckians and Saudarians, the rest of us are no better.


history? (1)

devonbowen (231626) | more than 13 years ago | (#414255)

Rebel Code, by British author Glyn Moody is one of the first serious histories of this movement.... Moody begins the book at the peak of Microsoft's rule, with the primal beginnings of Linux at the hands of Linus Torvalds, then a college student in Finland.

A serious history about the open source movement cannot possibly begin with Microsoft and/or Linux. My students and I had already donated half a dozen GNU ports to the well-established FSF before then. Berkeley had already released major parts of BSD and were in the process of rewriting parts still tied up by AT&T licensing before then. Hundreds, if not thousands, of software packages had been developed and posted to comp.source newsgroups before then. Get real.

The arrogance of Linux brats never ceases to amaze me.


Microsoft is dead already? (1)

NineNine (235196) | more than 13 years ago | (#414256)

I don't get it. Is this a futuristic sci-fi fiction, or is it non-fiction? I didn't know that "the Microsoft Era" was over. Is Jon Katz living in the future? Is he living on some kind of alternate plane of reality where Microsoft is not a powerful company anymore?

Re:The end of the Microsoft era? (1)

The Deep Blue Funk (241687) | more than 13 years ago | (#414258)

I agree, MS is not going away anytime soon, and may even get bigger than they are now. I think it is the end of the MS-as-dictator era, though. Throughout the '90s it seemed like MS was seen by the public (outside of the computer industry) as being one of the greatest companies ever, making fantastic products and not doing anything bad ever. The truth is a lot more complicated than that (MS does good stuff and bad stuff, and they make some good software and some bad software), as it always is.

In that same period it seemed like MS had the power to make or break any technology- if MS didn't like it, it was doomed, if MS approved (especially if they came up with it in the first place), then it would inevitably take over. MS and their technologies seem to be more heavily scrutinized now, and they don't seem to have nearly as much mindshare or power (within the industry) that they used to.

MS is still a major player and will probably continue to be one indefinitely (much like IBM), but these days they seem more like another citizen of the industry rather than its supreme leader. Their free ride from the media is over and their cash cows have been milked; from here on out they will have to succeed on merit rather than inertia.

Sounds great. (1)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 13 years ago | (#414259)

On the way to buy it...

I personaly think that the open source movement will never die(as long as their are lazy people and there are non lazy programmers), but it might lose steam someday. Perhaps it will become the norm for you to write your thesis (if your writing a program or OS ) and then GPL it.

I think that would be a great way to further the movement.

Does this already happen?

Fight censors!

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

ConsumedByTV (243497) | more than 13 years ago | (#414260)

Sounds like your a Star Trek fan..

I agree however strange i might sound.

But I think that the idea of greed vanishing is a bit pre-emptive in only 100 years.

Fight censors!

Re:Open Source != Free Software (1)

Martin Spamer (244245) | more than 13 years ago | (#414262)

This is actually a fantastic question: what was the first open source project? I agree Very Good Question! The Iliad? Gilgamesh? Perhaps. At least that far back, the 'concepts' behind Open Source/Free Software have repeatedly pop-up through-out history, the Renaissance was built on many of the same ideas, it can certainly be traced back at least as far as the ancient Greek Civilisation. Scientist & Philosophers would teach at 'universities', conduct lecture tours & publish pamphlets on their ideas, predominantly for the fame and prestige and not trade or monetary rewards, though this often followed through the patronage of the existing rich and powerful. The Patron/Sponsors would gained reflected prestige for their patronage of these important works.

New? (1)

plcurechax (247883) | more than 13 years ago | (#414265)

So is there anything new in this book? Any new insight or critism or is this just a travellog of Moody?

Re:The end of the Microsoft era? (1)

OpCode42 (253084) | more than 13 years ago | (#414268)

Open Source is no more significant or worrisome to Microsoft than Apple

Hmmm... I'd debate that. Microsoft seem to be attacking Linux and Open Source recently. I haven't heard them attacking Apple in the same manner.

IMO, the "Microsoft Era" is defined by Microsoft dominating the market, in terms of servers and desktops. I'd say that the era of microsoft dominance will have ended when we dont shout "Hurrah!" when a hardware company announces they support Linux, or when an ADSL provider say they will support us. The era of dominance will end when we expect these things as the norm. Its normal to get Windows drivers with your video card. To power it under Linux may mean a trawl around the web to find a suitable module / patch.

I think, unpopular as the view may be, that MS will always be around. Instead of Microsoft Hate, we should promote Linux Love - convince people that we have a viable alternative - not just a rebellion.


Re:Helped end the Microsoft era? (1)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 13 years ago | (#414270)

They've got nearly $13 billion in cash reserves.

Well, in that case they can always revert to buying entire countries and forbidding their subjects to code anything non-M$.

Question: (1)

Faulty Dreamer (259659) | more than 13 years ago | (#414271)

Did anyone else see the humor in Jon Katz complaining that someone's writing was too dry because it included content that moved forward quickly? Of course Jon would see that as dry, it is the polar opposite of his writing style, pointless drivel (which is all about the human element that he complains is missing in this book) that wanders on and on and never really seems to lead anywhere.

My other question would be that he claims the Microsoft era is completely over. When did this happen? It seems that companies using open-source are being told every day that they are basing their business on flimsy and terrible practices that threaten the very existence of humanity. I realize that this isn't a good sign for Microsoft, but I also am not stupid enough to claim that Microsoft is dead. They have a tendency to come through things that seem pretty bleak, and come out on the other end wiping blood from their mouths and proclaiming that they have destroyed another demonic monster that stands in the way of American Life. People still swallow everything out of Redmond as a general rule. Now, Slashdotters are the exception because we are aware of some of the back-scenes stuff going on, but don't think for a minute that Microsoft is dead and gone.

Sorry, but speaking in the past tense of someone or something that is definitely very much alive and well just kind of irks me. MS may be going down, but they may not be. And only time can truly tell.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

ghostrunner (262279) | more than 13 years ago | (#414275)

I like those definitions. It made several things clear that I had been apparently confused on for some time. Thanks!

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

TGK (262438) | more than 13 years ago | (#414276)

So the book is free for download and published under the GPL right?

This has been another useless post from....

My view on (1)

peterwayner (266189) | more than 13 years ago | (#414277)

I've read Rebel Code and I liked it. After reading several comments I thought I would add my own minireview here that might help others understand the book a bit better.

First, Rebel Code is largely a book about the development of the Linux kernel. Most of the first part of the book is devoted to the decisions that Linus Torvalds made along the way. The details about when he added TCP/IP and other features, for instance, are well-covered. Moody apparently constructed much of this from the archives of the mailing lists-- an amazing trove of data that any historian would be lucky to inherit.

Second, the book is really a technical history. In the preprint I read, Moody begins the fourth chapter with this sentence: "Almost immediate after he and Tanenbaum had argued over the relative merits of Linux and Minix, Linus bumped up the version number of his operating system kernel from 0.12 to 0.95, which came out on 7 March 1992."

Slashdot readers will like this and I almost felt vaguely jealous that I didn't include this information in Free for All . But I had a rule that I would include no software version numbers in the book to prevent myself from going into too much technical detail. I didn't want to lose the more casual reader and that was sure to happen if I was debating the differences between versions of the kernel. Still, I loved this kind of technical detail and most Slashdot readers will probably enjoy it too.

Which brings us to my third answer to someone's good question: wouldn't it be easier to learn about open source by just reading the stuff on the web. If you've got the time, then reading the original material makes some sense. But Moody has spent the time plowing through all of it to write a good history of the evolution of the kernel. So reading the book can save you some time and expose you to his thinking. Obviously reading both makes more sense, but there's only so much time.

Fourth, the treatment of the book is a bit unbalanced. While Katz is correct that all of the major players are included, they're not included in the same detail. The most telling detail is that Moody refers to everyone by their last name except "Linus". I realize that this is a cute convention, but it's sort of a very slight, backhanded insult to many others who contributed a great deal to the project along the way. This is supposed to be a revolution of equals. Yet, Torvalds is a star?

Which brings us to number five, Richard Stallman. The book devotes at least one chapter to him and acknowledges the contribution of the GNU project to the development of the kernel. But the book is first and foremost a history of the development of the kernel. I don't think it's fair to criticize the book for what it is not because the only way to remedy the situation is to write more and more and more. If Moody analyzed the development of the GNU project and the GNU software package in the same level of detail, then the book would be thousands of pages long, perhaps even a million. This may be why Stallman may feel slighted. Torvalds gets all of the spotlight and he only wrote a kernel at the center of it all.

This really is an impossible problem for the book author. When I was finishing Free for All I felt like Oscar Schindler in "Schindler's List". There were just thousands of neat stories and important contributors that didn't reach print, in almost all cases because I lacked the time and energy to fit them in.

This is a good book and one that I really enjoyed reading. It's a great technical history of the development of the kernel that should be read by all of the computer science majors who seem to think that all of these neat drivers and GUIs just happened. There was a lot of tough work when an OS is being bootstrapped. This history is a good way to understand just why things are as they are.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (1)

TubaDave (313974) | more than 13 years ago | (#414283)

Communism as it is practiced in the real world has no bearings on the true definition of communism. The system you described reminds me much more of a socialist state than a true communist one. In true communism, it is eventually possible for the government to actually become a figure head, only keeping crime at bay and not really interfering with economy. What you call profoundly anti-communistic is the very goal that true communism reaches for.

Manufacturing for no cost will actually be possible, at least in the not extremely distant future. Think about it. Once fusion power becomes safe and possible, a generator fueled by hydrogen, which it can easily obtain from two of our most abundant resources, air and water, can be practically turned on and left alone and will power cities or even continents ad infinitum. Your energy problems are solved. And with the increasing development of nanotechnology, perhaps replicators aren't that far off either.

Finally, if you think technology will not reach these levels in the next hundred years, think again. I remember buying a computer in 1993, and Pentium 90's were just coming out. We have gone from trying to break the 100Mhz barrier to making 1.5Ghz processors in 8 years. Now tell me technology is moving slowly.

I bought this a couple of weeks ago (1)

Claric (316725) | more than 13 years ago | (#414284)

I bought this and started reading it (even though I wanted to finish "The Diamond Age" first). I have to say that, speaking as someone who has only been using Linux for two years, it has provided me with a decent and easy to understand history of the Linux operating system. It is interesting to see how Linux has turned from a hobby into a commercial OS even though (at the time) it was never intended. Also, the views and opinions are pretty non-biased. It's as negative about RMS as it is positive !

A colleague of mine was at Uni with Alan Cox and is still really good friends with him. If anyone's interested apparently he does a really good chinese.

But I digress...

It's a really interesting read so far. I still haven't finished The Diamond Age as I keep picking this up. Just to finish, the UK version has a slightly different - and in my opinion better - cover. I think it's the lettering ;-)


Why now? (1)

VelitesJ (318184) | more than 13 years ago | (#414285)

Open source has been part of the "underground" computer scene for as long as I can remember.. That's a good ten years..

Does anyone know why the big open-source debate seems to get through to the media NOW? Is that just another example of the media's populist nature, or has anything actually happened that has left Open Source as something new an important?

I can see how Linux' starting to gobble up M$'s market share can be of importance, but so has Apple, and they have not gotten this kind of publicity (granted, Apple has never pretended to get their piece of the cake because they want to do "the people" good, but still)

Why now?

Re: Sounds great. (1)

All Ya' Base (318375) | more than 13 years ago | (#414286)

I personaly think that the open source movement will never die(as long as their are lazy people and there are non lazy programmers).

That's an interesting take on the community. I don't see why the general populace needs to be lazy to support the open source movement. I mean, really...wouldn't it be better if NO ONE was lazy?

If everyone did diligent bug-squashing for the lizard [mozilla.org], if everyone contributed to Darwin [apple.com], wouldn't that be better than a few non-lazy programmers doing the work?

That's just my opinion. And I almost forgot to mention, ALL YOUR JON KATZ ARE BELONG TO SATAN [cafepress.com] . Thanks for your time.

Re:Open Source != Free Software (1)

Derang() (318404) | more than 13 years ago | (#414287)

But there must have been some open source project before linux. Someone must have come up with this idea before. I wonder what the first open source project actualy was...

Also reviewed in Sunday Times (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#414289)

The Sunday Times (UK) carried a review by DJ Taylor of this book on Jan 14th [sunday-times.co.uk].

I especially liked the last paragraph of the review which read

If the 21st American century contains any serious ideological battles between might and right, power and community, the big battalions and the radical small fry, it seems likely that they will be fought out here in cyberspace.
The review was published before Balmer's and Allchin's recent intrusions on free software territory!

Don't you ever wonder if... (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#414290)

Quite possibly the whole intention of open source has been obscured due to mainstream media popularity. Back in 1999, if it was "dot com" it was good. We all see how that worked out. I fear that industry might come to expect the same of Open Source to such a point that it becomes almost possible to live up to the public media's expectations of the paradigm, in which case it would fall out of favor and become another failed business/programming methodology in the eyes of the general public. Is Open Source supposed to be a business model, or an acceptible alternative to traditional programming practices?

Intriguing book... (2)

jd (1658) | more than 13 years ago | (#414291)

But RMS is a tad unhappy about it, from what I've heard. It's reflections on history are, from what I understand, somewhat focussed and neglect the larger picture (the pre-existing Free Software movement, which supplied the userland tools for the Linux kernel, etc).

Now, I'm not going to choose sides, but I =do= agree with the basic premise. Everything happens in a context, and if you miss the context, you miss the entire point of the event.

Besides, not everyone has their initials in every college physics text, the world over. :) How can I disagree with an international star? :)

Re:Helped end the Microsoft era? (2)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 13 years ago | (#414298)

This may be 'offtopic' but there is some truth in it. Microsoft has played very creatively with how they account for options, and used various other financial tricks to enhance their apparent profitability and consistently beat analysts expectations by a very consistent amount.

can they make a movie/docudrama of it? (2)

peter303 (12292) | more than 13 years ago | (#414299)

Like Revenge of the Nerds, Pt 1, Pt 2?

According to the "rules of drama" you got have
a dramatic conflict, interesting characters,
and a climax. In the nerd series the conflict
was newcomers versus the establishment and each other.
There is no shortage of eccentrics like Jobs,
Gates, McNealy, and Andraessen.
The climax has usuallly been someone getting
fabulously rich off their products.

This book has the first two. I'm sure if the
process has a climax yet.

The movie "Antri-trust" had open-source as a
secondary subplot and climax.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (2)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#414302)

That's because I like that 1970's OS, crashes alot less than the 90's OS I run here at work. And, hey, if the VCs can't look out for themselves, that's their problem. Nice to see another K5er here at /.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (2)

MartinG (52587) | more than 13 years ago | (#414303)

hehe. good try.

The ideas behind open source are about individual freedom and power, as opposed to state power.

Nothing like communism whatsoever. In fact, its closer to a form of anarchy than anything else. ie, a ruthless application of Darwinian survival of the fittest by the people. In open source its the fittest code that survives. In anarchy, its the fittest people.

Re:Open Source vs. Free Software (2)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 13 years ago | (#414304)

What are the actual contributions of the "Open Source" movement? Linux, GNU, Gnome are all Free Software.

All of the above + BSD, Apache, Perl, Python...

I think Stallman is right that he is being written out of history. This is either sheer ignorance on the part of the author...

That's crap. There is quite a big, and largely complimentary, piece on him in the book. Besides, history will take care of itself. In a hundred years time, Linux will be gone. Will students be writing papers on 'the FSF and the end of intellectual property rights'. Maybe.

Re:A flaw in the book? Or the review? (2)

Shimbo (100005) | more than 13 years ago | (#414306)

The book starts with linux?

Well, yes. It's a book about Linux more than anything else. Check the title.

It does go back and try to put things in some sort of perspective. But it's not a book about the creation of the Internet, or the history of Unix. It does touch on other things: GNU and the GPL, Apache and Mozilla, Perl.

I take the point, that it's a wrong view to take the story of Linux in isolation. However, I don't think the book makes that mistake, and focussing on Linux does give it some narrative coherence.

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (2)

MrGrendel (119863) | more than 13 years ago | (#414307)

Nothing like communism whatsoever. In fact, its closer to a form of anarchy than anything else. ie, a ruthless application of Darwinian survival of the fittest by the people. In open source its the fittest code that survives. In anarchy, its the fittest people.

What you have just described is not Anarchy, it is Nihilism. Classical Anarchy, as a political philosophy, began when Michael Bakunin [pitzer.edu], an early colaborator with Karl Marx, split with Marx on the issue of implementing a communist society. Bakunin coined the term "Red Bureaucracy" to describe the Marxist proposal of the dictatorship of the proletariat and predicted that such an institution would outdo the evils of any tyrant (he seems to have been correct). Anarchism holds that the only way to achieve the ideals of Marx is to eliminate all power structures between people. This would include government and corporations as some of the first structures to be dismantled. In order to survive, however, an anarchist society would require a high degree of (voluntary) cooperation between citizens -- nothing like the social darwinism proposed by Nihilism, but very close to the ideals of Free Software/Open Source.

Re:Open Source != Free Software (2)

StoryMan (130421) | more than 13 years ago | (#414308)

This is actually a fantastic question: what was the first open source project?

The Iliad? Gilgamesh? Perhaps.

But I wonder if, in fact, the first *sanctioned* open source project -- a project with the same sort of "hierarchical blessing structure" that the current OS movements has -- might not be the compilation of the old and new testaments. (There might be better non-western examples -- if so, please let me know, as I'm curious about the whole hierarchical structure with promotes the cyclical path of authorship and interpretation -- canon formation, in other words. The Koran, maybe? It, like the biblical texts, was "dictated to" Mohammed by a 'divine' voice, but I'm not sure of how its actual formation -- its life after dictation -- came to be.)

There are debates about the Iliad. While it's true, they probably *are not* the result of just one author, we don't know enough about either to pin down the structure of their composition. Obviously, the Iliad was primarily oral -- a song, perhaps, or a long poem meant to be spoken/sung -- but I'm not sure if we know how what has come to be accepted as the official text actually came to *be* the 'official' text.

Stallman "leader of Free Software 'movement'"??? (2)

bluebomber (155733) | more than 13 years ago | (#414309)

I don't think so. All of the people named in the article could be called "leaders" of the open source community, but no single person could be called "the leader". This community is way to fragmented and spread out for that to be true. Instead, you've got people who could definitely be considered leaders of certain areas of the community -- RMS and FSF/GNU, Miguel and GNOME, Torvalds/Cox and the kernel, etc. Don't forget that large portions of the community dislike any single one of these leaders for various political or other reasons, and some of the community dislikes the idea of any kind of leadership or centralized control.


Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (2)

streetlawyer (169828) | more than 13 years ago | (#414310)

Remember, I said "as practiced" in the real world

Well, "as practiced in the real world", Open Source is a bunch of hobbyists struggling to reproduce a 1970s operating system, some of whom have managed to dupe venture capitalists for long enough to become unprofitable companies, but I didn't see you criticisng that.

Re:Rebel code (2)

Ian Wolf (171633) | more than 13 years ago | (#414311)

I do believe you mean Finland, besides Skywalker wasn't from Hoth, not to mention the Alliance got their asses kicked there.

However, if you draw a parallel between Star Wars and the Open Source revolution then Tatooine would be Finland and Redmond would be Coruscant.

Hmm now who's Yoda? Stallman?

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (2)

Golias (176380) | more than 13 years ago | (#414312)

There is not a single communist state in existence right now.

And, let's face it, there probably never will be.

In order to preserve a stable communist state, protecting it from both external threats and from all those uncooprative stubborn people who would rather be rich capitalists, you need to establish a military.

In order to establish a military, you need to either create incentive for people to become soldires (by offering wealth or special treatment), or else force people to become soldiers (by drafting them).

Either way, once you take the steps neccessary to establish your military, you no longer have a communist state, because (to lift from Orwell) "some people are more equal than others".

This is why communism has only been successfully demonstrated on Gilligan's Island reruns, and not in the real world.

about the word communism... (2)

dR.fuZZo (187666) | more than 13 years ago | (#414313)

But I think you need to look closer at the definition of communism. Or, at least, how it is practiced in the real world

And I think you need to look less at how it's been practised in the Soviet Union and China and more at the definition of the word. AFAIK, the point of communism was about communal sharing -- from each according to his ability, to each according to his need. Ideologically, I don't see that it's inextricably linked with the idea of authoritarian control.

However, seeing as we've been through a few decades of cold war, the term and ideology of Communism have been demonized. Though some still consider it a dirty word, I think it's better to talk about socialism.

Even if the Soviet Union isn't still around, socialism is alive and well around the world. Here in the States we have social security and a graduated income tax. You don't have to call these communist if you don't want to, but I believe they were originally part of the communist party platform.

Now...as for open source...can money be made off of it? Yes. Does that make it more capitalistic than socialistic? No. I'm guessing that if Torvalds is doing alright financially today, it's probably more because he's semi-famous and not because of all his Linux royalties... Open Source is sharing something people would often be forced to pay for. Isn't that communal? Isn't that the point of communism?

Target Audience (2)

Delirium Tremens (214596) | more than 13 years ago | (#414315)

One has to wonder what the target audience for that book really is. Who is going to read it? Linux advocates and OpenSource geeks? If so, it will probably be only those amongst us who are interested in the detailed history of their own movement and who have too much time on their hand. I am interested, but I have no time to read the book. Moreover, I wonder how much of that information I don't already know just by reading through my favorite web sites during the last few years.
So J.K. apart, who will go and buy the book?
And who will really read it entirely?

Re:Also reviewed in Sunday Times (2)

tom.allender (217176) | more than 13 years ago | (#414316)

Also mentioned [ntk.net] by the brilliant NTK [ntk.net] this week. They pointed to a Wired Article [wired.com] which appears to be the basis for the core of the book.

I think it looks like a good background text on the beginnings of linux, so I bought it.

I see a battle like Star Wars going on. (2)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#414317)

Microsoft rep to Linux rep at COMDEX right after the demo machine segfaulted: "You rebel scum!"

Steve Ballmer to Bill Gates: "What is thy bidding, master?"

Open Source vs. Free Software (2)

marxist (301359) | more than 13 years ago | (#414319)

What are the actual contributions of the "Open Source" movement? Linux, GNU, Gnome are all Free Software.

I think Stallman is right that he is being written out of history. This is either sheer ignorance on the part of the author, or an attept to capitalize on hot buzzwords like "Open Source" and "Linux".

Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (3)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#414320)

In communism, there is no central control

Remember, I said "as practiced" in the real world. Talk to anyone who grew up in Eastern Europe, or the Soviet Union, before 1990 and you'll discover that there was most certainly central control. "In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, in practice there is." Communism is a theory that sounds wonderful, but doesn't allow for the contrariness of human beings, and thus doesn't work in practice.

Re:A flaw in the book? Or the review? (3)

update() (217397) | more than 13 years ago | (#414322)

Well, I think what you mean is that freely distributed software goes back to the ENIAC days. To me, "Open Source" is Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens asserting that giving out source code is a good business plan. Perl, BSD, Linux and the rest of the stuff the "Open Source" advocates retroactively take credit for had no origin in it. Mozilla and Eazel were genuinely created under the Open Source banner.

The same goes for the idea that software isn't free unless there are onerous conditions attached to its use. The "Free Software" people also take credit for all sorts of stuff that was written by people who were largely uninterested in their ideology (Linux, Apache), or actively hostile to it (Perl, BSD). gcc and emacs were genuinely created under the Free Software banner.

Open Source will change our civilisation. (3)

Heidi Wall (317302) | more than 13 years ago | (#414324)

Open Source is a way of thinking about all forms of property, not just software.

I think that in the far future, maybe 100 years or so down the line, Open Source will have spread to encompass all parts of our civilisation, the very fundamental way we live, our economy, everything.

In my view, it is inevitable that our economy become communist in the distant future - when we can manufacture anything, anywhere, anytime, for no cost, our present money and job based society breaks down. We shall become a wealthy society of equals. This is the destiny of Open Source.

In the future, as more and more parts of our society become intellectualised, and as the intellectual economy does to Industry what Industry did to agriculture - overshadows it utterly - the pressures for Open Source to extend its aim beyond the software industry will redouble.

I think it will do so, and eventually our entire civilisation will be based around the ethics of the Open Source philosophy, as evinced by RMS and ESR.

And we will all be the better for it.
Clarity does not require the absence of impurities,

The Microsoft Era is over? (4)

Badgerman (19207) | more than 13 years ago | (#414325)

The Microsoft Era is over? That's news to me - right now I'm finishing my MCSD and developing a complex website on ASP. My wife does her video editing and graphic work on a windows box. Most of my friends in the tech industry deals with Microsoft as well, at times reluctantly.

I'm sure this is an excellent book - I'm very curious about it. However, broad statements like this do NOT encourage people to take reviews seriously.

This is a review, not wish-fulfillment. If Open Source has a true enemy it is NOT Microsoft or anyone else - it's self-delusion and self-aggrandizement.

I have a problem (4)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 13 years ago | (#414326)

Dammit, I'm going to stick my neck out here and probably get marked as "Troll" but please hear me out.

I think the Open Source movement is great. However I can see what Bill Gates means when he asks what programmer can afford to spend 3 years designing, developing and testing a product only to give the entire lot (include source) away for free.

Quite simply, the majority can't. Those that can, are even more simply, gods.

Open source is great, you get to release your code, people get to pick it over, learn from it and in the process they may even help you out with it or at least spawn something off that is bigger and better. Don't know how to use TCP/IP correctly or well? Download something that does and look at its code, the only condition being that should you use any part of it then you should release your code open to the masses too.

But heres the problem. Open source software as we know it works, its indesputable. But it only works fully if the project is small. Hear me out and I'll explain why I think so.

For over a year I worked on a telemetry system for my employers. It was a Visual Basic frontend to Pro*C and Oracle backend. It was big. It also took me nearly 3 months of 9-5 working for 5 days a week to understand the entire system, how it works, the concequences of changing things and to get an understanding of the beast.

This isn't something unusual. In fact my company specifically understands this and refuses to put people on for any time less because they are only truely productive after this lead time.

So, approximately 6 hours a day for 3 months (roughly 87 days) makes 522 hours of work.

Where is this leading? Well, say this was an open source project and I was doing it in my spare time then I'd need 522 hours before I was fully acquainted with the project. Thats a lot of work and based on 2 hours per night plus 8 at the weekend thats 29 weeks before I can really truely say that I'm at a level to genuinly be able to contribute to the code. Sure, I could do the odd bug fix here and there but the GPL isn't about just doing bug fixes, its about helping the code to evolve.

Thats a lot of work for something in my free time. And unfortunately for me, time I don't have. Of course, others do and I applaud them, but IMO as the scale of the project increases the tougher it is to get people to work on it. If I GPL'ed a 20 line program the chances are the flaws and bugs and oversights would/could be fixed very quickly because it doesn't take much for people to understand the code completely.

So where is this heading? The GPL is great, without it we wouldn't have had the innovation that we've had (contrary to Microsofts belief) but I believe that for the majority of people the GPL means only that they can give it to friends for free. The average Jo Public doesn't want to look at the code and doesn't care that they can modify it and give away the modifications without some law agency hammering on their door.

What we should remember above all, is that code is a mighty beast, where everyone has differing styles and ideas. If you release code under the GPL that is big and complicated don't expect hundreds of people to come crawling out of the woodwork and help you. After all, really how many true developers are there on the Mozilla project? As in the ones that really know the system.

The "many eyes" theory is great, if the many eyes can be bothered to look and understand the code.

But before you hit the reply button or go for the "Troll" option in the moderation box please note that I am a fan of open source. I see no reason why people should distribute their code and hard work to others with a licence that almost says "here you go, do what you want with it" but those that do are truely generious individuals.


Re:Open Source will change our civilisation. (5)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#414327)

Nice troll. But I think you need to look closer at the definition of communism. Or, at least, how it is practiced in the real world. In a communist system, the State owns everything, and directs how it is used. Open source is, I believe, profoundly anti-communist. One reason it is anti-communist is that the State would have no control over how it is used. But it's not that new an idea. Sharing information goes back years. To Johannes Gutenbergs' printing press (and before). Think of the revolution(s) that touched off!

Manufacture anything for no cost? I think you've seen too much Star Trek. What about the cost in energy? And the associated costs of getting the energy?

Bet you're a college student. You any relation to Larry? And don't let ESR hear you calling open source communist. He'll go ballistic.

A flaw in the book? Or the review? (5)

wiredog (43288) | more than 13 years ago | (#414328)

The book starts with linux? Open source, under whatever name it had, has been around since long before the first linux kernel was released. Linux did not touch off the revolution, if it is one. It might even be considered a counter-revolution since, in the beginning, open source was the norm. Read "Hackers" by Levy, for instance. Linux may be open source, but open source is not linux. Open source is the IBM PC compatible, it is BSD, it is Perl, it is TCP/IP. It is many things that have been around since the 50's.

Helped end the Microsoft era? (5)

laetus (45131) | more than 13 years ago | (#414329)

Rebel code helped end the Microsoft era,

Hey, I'm as big an open source and Linux fan as the rest of you, but jeez, isn't that a bit of hyperbole? Last time I checked,

  1. Microsoft still owned the most widely used OSes in the world.
  2. Their income statement for FY 2000 listed nearly $23 billion in sales.
  3. They've got nearly $13 billion in cash reserves.
  4. I've still yet to see a wholesale migration of desktops and office suites to anyone other than MS (though I've been keeping my fingers crossed!)

All in all, I think this was a bit of undeserved braggadocio. The open source movement still has alot of work ahead of it.

Re:Helped end the Microsoft era? (5)

MartinG (52587) | more than 13 years ago | (#414330)

When the titanic hit that iceberg it shook the ship for a few seconds but other than that for the passengers all was well.

1. All the passengers still beloeved they were on the best most widely admired ship in the world.
2. The bars on board were still selling drinks for cash.
3. They still had lots of money and were operating in profit.
4. No passnegers saw a problem. They were comfortable enough and didn't want to leave.

At that time, a very small number of people on board knew very well that the minor shaking of the ship they had just felt would inevitably lead to the sinking of the ship. Nobody could do anything about it.

My point is this: Just because all looks well from the customers viewpoint doesn't mean all is well. One seemingly minor thing (at the time) can change the course of history entirely for those involved.

I think microsoft has hit its iceberg. I also think that all looks fine right now to customers and to investors. I also think that a small minority of people inside microsoft know very well they they are doomed.

They know there is nothing left they can do, so they get frustrated and start shouting at the iceberg. (icebergs stifle innovation!)

Do you know whats funny though? Microsoft saw their iceberg years ago, but they thought they could sail right through it.

Bandwagon. (5)

fatphil (181876) | more than 13 years ago | (#414331)

He begins the story so long after the open source movement was already well established that the interesting part of the story is being ignored.

I remember having to "bootstrap" my machines into networkable machines by downloading _source_ code to a simple pip clone (basically a 50 line serial driver) which permitted me to copy onto my machine the _source_ to kermit (back when kermit was open source). When I had that, I could then on my own machine download the _source_ to the other tools that would then enable me to compile/assemble the _source_ to the other programs that I really wanted. The variety of programs was very broad (but remember that it was almost exclusively command line programs in those days), you name a tool, you could download a copy...
At this stage Linus was just a teenager.
It's only because the Open Source "movement" (what movement?) was so strong already that Linus decided that's how he wanted his project to be.

I think that's a very long way of saying "I'm not going to buy this Linux-bandwagon-jumping book".


Rebel code (5)

HongPong (226840) | more than 13 years ago | (#414332)

"You, Stallman, are a part of the Rebel Codebase and a traitor!"

"Just remember, Gates, the harder you squeeze, the more Unices will slip through your fingers!"


The end of the Microsoft era? (5)

Ananova (255600) | more than 13 years ago | (#414333)

> This is a good book to mark the end of the Microsoft Era

It might well be, but the Microsoft era certainly hasn't ended. They have better market share than ever.

They are poised to take over the game console market, and yesterday announced moves to corner the mobile phone market. This combined with the increasing acceptance of Windows 2000 as the most stable and maintainable server platform around means the Microsoft era is far from over.

We have seen the beginning of open source on a large scale, but we certainly haven't seen the end of the Microsoft era.

Looks like this guy's journalistic instincts to make a story where none exists have overridden the fact of the matter - the Microsoft era hasn't ended, and Open Source is no more significant or worrisome to Microsoft than Apple; there is no sign of the kind of consumer platform where everything is done for you (speaking as someone who recently went to see a client who didn't even understand how to change resolutions and had 640*480 on a 21" monitor, the importance of the OS helping you through everything is clear), nor indeed a server platform where the all important factor - staff time and expertise in maintenance is kept low enough.

Much as it would be nice to see a kind of people's revolution for the good of all, this is nothing more than hype and journalistic bull.
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