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"Open source" began as the mantra of a small group of idealistic hackers and has blossomed into the all-important slogan for progressive business and computing. This fast-moving narrative starts at ground zero, with the dramatic incubation of open-source software by Linux and its enigmatic creator, Linus Torvalds. With firsthand accounts, it describes how a motley group of "Open source" began as the mantra of a small group of idealistic hackers and has blossomed into the all-important slogan for progressive business and computing. This fast-moving narrative starts at ground zero, with the dramatic incubation of open-source software by Linux and its enigmatic creator, Linus Torvalds. With firsthand accounts, it describes how a motley group of programmers managed to shake up the computing universe and cause a radical shift in thinking for the post-Microsoft era. A powerful and engaging tale of innovation versus big business, Rebel Code chronicles the race to create and perfect open-source software, and provides the ideal perch from which to explore the changes that cyberculture has engendered in our society. Based on over fifty interviews with open-source protagonists such as Torvalds and open source guru Richard Stallman, Rebel Code captures the voice and the drama behind one of the most significant business trends in recent memory.


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"Open source" began as the mantra of a small group of idealistic hackers and has blossomed into the all-important slogan for progressive business and computing. This fast-moving narrative starts at ground zero, with the dramatic incubation of open-source software by Linux and its enigmatic creator, Linus Torvalds. With firsthand accounts, it describes how a motley group of "Open source" began as the mantra of a small group of idealistic hackers and has blossomed into the all-important slogan for progressive business and computing. This fast-moving narrative starts at ground zero, with the dramatic incubation of open-source software by Linux and its enigmatic creator, Linus Torvalds. With firsthand accounts, it describes how a motley group of programmers managed to shake up the computing universe and cause a radical shift in thinking for the post-Microsoft era. A powerful and engaging tale of innovation versus big business, Rebel Code chronicles the race to create and perfect open-source software, and provides the ideal perch from which to explore the changes that cyberculture has engendered in our society. Based on over fifty interviews with open-source protagonists such as Torvalds and open source guru Richard Stallman, Rebel Code captures the voice and the drama behind one of the most significant business trends in recent memory.

30 review for Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joey

    I can't give this a star rating. It began excellently, and ended in irrelevant trivia, and farce. I read this book very much from a personal historical perspective, since I lived the history it recounts and know many of the people in it, either personally or by reputation. (I also happened to be frequently corresponding with one of the people most quoted in it, for unrelated reasons, as I read it.) So, really I enjoyed the first 100 or so pages of the book, which covered years before I got very in I can't give this a star rating. It began excellently, and ended in irrelevant trivia, and farce. I read this book very much from a personal historical perspective, since I lived the history it recounts and know many of the people in it, either personally or by reputation. (I also happened to be frequently corresponding with one of the people most quoted in it, for unrelated reasons, as I read it.) So, really I enjoyed the first 100 or so pages of the book, which covered years before I got very involved in this stuff. I'd heard that history before, but this stuck me as a more complete version, taken from closer to the source. That first section kept me reading too late for a few nights. Then it went downhill, with endless details about company's shenanigans during the dotcom bubble. Was there, don't want to hear it again. The latter half of the book is a snapshot of a particularly deranged moment in time, which has perhaps of historical value, but not personal historical value. In the end I plowed though it only because Goodreads told me I'd been reading this book for a month. I will leave you with ... the farce! (From the last page of the book) «Stallman says despairingly. "I'm going to keep working on the free software movement because I don't see who's going to replace me." Nevertheless, a worthy successor who has the rare mix of qualities neccessary may already be emerging in the person of Miguel de Icaza.«

  2. 5 out of 5

    Neil

    Reading this made me wish I'd learned to code. I found this book on a rubbish pile on the way to the station one day and thought it might be interesting to learn more about the way Linux developed. It covers a lot about the model Linux uses to grow and touches on the open software movement as well, and the challenges it offers to big business. However, by the end of the book, it feels like it has run out of steam - the last few chapters seem a little disconnected with the narrative of the book a Reading this made me wish I'd learned to code. I found this book on a rubbish pile on the way to the station one day and thought it might be interesting to learn more about the way Linux developed. It covers a lot about the model Linux uses to grow and touches on the open software movement as well, and the challenges it offers to big business. However, by the end of the book, it feels like it has run out of steam - the last few chapters seem a little disconnected with the narrative of the book as a whole, although I still learned a lot from them. Good introduction to open source.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Premal Vora

    Excellent description of the beginnings of the open-source revolution in software. Describes the beginning of Linux, where the BSDs came from, who Richard Stallman is and why he thinks the way he does. Gave me a bird-eye view of the open-source landscape while at the same time it zoomed into some of the interesting areas. Very lively and unbiased. I loved this book. I'm writing more apps in open-source languages and using FreeBSD and Linux whenever possible. Excellent description of the beginnings of the open-source revolution in software. Describes the beginning of Linux, where the BSDs came from, who Richard Stallman is and why he thinks the way he does. Gave me a bird-eye view of the open-source landscape while at the same time it zoomed into some of the interesting areas. Very lively and unbiased. I loved this book. I'm writing more apps in open-source languages and using FreeBSD and Linux whenever possible.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Doran Barton

    I purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of open source software. I chose to present this topic because I realized many up-and-coming technical workers and enthusiasts either weren't alive when many milestone events occurred or weren't cognizant of them or their significance. This book far exceeded my expectations. I was an early adopter of Linux and open source software in the early 1990s, so I purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of open source software. I chose to present this topic because I realized many up-and-coming technical workers and enthusiasts either weren't alive when many milestone events occurred or weren't cognizant of them or their significance. This book far exceeded my expectations. I was an early adopter of Linux and open source software in the early 1990s, so I was witness to some of the innovations and big events that took place, but I had no idea about the details. Moody's book delves deep into the evolution of the early Linux kernel, how it lacked any networking capability at all, the controversy surrounding adding a network stack to the kernel, and other issues that came up that ultimately shaped Linux, its maintainer Linus Torvalds, and his lieutenants. While the bulk of Moody's story explores the roots of Linux and its early history, it also explores other relevant open source projects that have made a significant mark such as GNU, Apache, Sendmail, Samba, and BIND. I learned several things about these projects and those involved that I hadn't known before. Telling the history of the open source movement would not be complete without coverage of the companies that made open source their business or changed their business because of open source. It's disappointing how many of them are gone now, but when this book was published (2002) most were still ticking. Gone now are organizations like Netscape Communications, Caldera, Pacific Hi-Tech, and VA Linux/VA Research, but their roles in the movement can not be forgotten. The only downside of this book is that Moody hasn't prepared an updated revision in the decade or so since it was published. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, much of the open source movement saw Microsoft as the enemy, the obstacle to the movement's success, and Moody covers this well. In the years since, however, I think the movement has started to recognize that Microsoft is not the roadblock they saw it as. It seems like every year for the last fifteen years, someone has declared it to be "the year of Linux on the desktop," but while Linux has gained more desktop users, it's still nowhere near that kind of a conquest... And that's okay. In summary, I highly recommend this book as a way of gaining critical insight into the landmark years of the 1990s that defined the open source movement.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Updegrove

    When you live through history, it's easy to assume that someone else will take the time to record, analyze and present what happened so that there is a reliable account available for the future. That's sure to happen when you're speaking of affairs of state, but it becomes less so as you move out through the concentric rings of existence from the diplomatic bullseye. The emergence of the open source business model and community ethos (related but not at all the same thing) has already had a profo When you live through history, it's easy to assume that someone else will take the time to record, analyze and present what happened so that there is a reliable account available for the future. That's sure to happen when you're speaking of affairs of state, but it becomes less so as you move out through the concentric rings of existence from the diplomatic bullseye. The emergence of the open source business model and community ethos (related but not at all the same thing) has already had a profound impact on much of the technology we rely on for virtually every aspect of our human existence today. And yet astonishingly little has been written to date about how it came about, and even less about the individuals involved. For this reason, we owe a debt to Glyn Moody for the exhaustive research that he put into recording who did what when, and why. This is the most detailed record to may knowledge of a critical period in the development of OSS, and it's reliance on first-hand interviews with those involved is invaluable. Because Glyn is not only a skilled technology journalist but also an activist on the "openness" front, he is able to capture not only the technical details, but also the whys and wherefores for debates and actions that rose at times to almost religious intensity. The level of detail in the narrative can also be the book's weakness, depending on the level of interest of the reader. Many times Glyn goes into more detail than a casual reader would find necessary to learn as much as they're likely to want to know, and even those with an active interest in the origins of open source may find themselves skimming from time to time. But someone using Glyn's book for research purposes will find it to be a treasure trove of data that may not be available from any other easily accessible source. Finally, I would note that Glyn does an excellent job of making difficult technology processes and arcane battles between those with impassioned beliefs quite understandable. As another reviewer has noted, it's a shame that the narrative ends in 2001. Perhaps Glyn will provide us with an account some day of what came thereafter.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amar Pai

    Eh. It started off kinda interesting (who isn't inspired by the story of Linux?) but I got bored. Half the book is history of linux distros, and I don't really care about the arcane details of Mandrake vs Red Hat or whatever. The chapters on Mozilla and emacs are by-the-numbers, and I was disappointed by the book's superficial take on open source philosophy & issues. Also, since it came out in 2001, it feels frustratingly dated. e.g. the discussion of Apple's response to the "linux threat" is re Eh. It started off kinda interesting (who isn't inspired by the story of Linux?) but I got bored. Half the book is history of linux distros, and I don't really care about the arcane details of Mandrake vs Red Hat or whatever. The chapters on Mozilla and emacs are by-the-numbers, and I was disappointed by the book's superficial take on open source philosophy & issues. Also, since it came out in 2001, it feels frustratingly dated. e.g. the discussion of Apple's response to the "linux threat" is rendered quite irrelevant by OS X.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Magda Głażewska

    Truly inspiring. I had no idea about programming before reading this (still haven't) but, interestingly, lots of unfamiliar terminology didn't make it difficult to understand. The story behing development of Linux and the open-source revolution is absolutely captivating and bound to make you want to learn how to code (or at least try and install Linux on your PC). Truly inspiring. I had no idea about programming before reading this (still haven't) but, interestingly, lots of unfamiliar terminology didn't make it difficult to understand. The story behing development of Linux and the open-source revolution is absolutely captivating and bound to make you want to learn how to code (or at least try and install Linux on your PC).

  8. 4 out of 5

    Shinynickel

    Includes disc of origin of copyleft system with gnu general public license.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad Moneib

    An Extensive History of Freedom Fighting in Cyberspace The fight for freedom is one of the most discussed subjects in arts and literature. The glorification of the deeds of freedom fighters and the refinement of their personalities to fit in the heroic molds manufactured through public perception is not something strange to historians, as well as to artists and writers. Most of what we know about our historic heroes is sufficient to give them god-like traits and gain them a cult following, guaran An Extensive History of Freedom Fighting in Cyberspace The fight for freedom is one of the most discussed subjects in arts and literature. The glorification of the deeds of freedom fighters and the refinement of their personalities to fit in the heroic molds manufactured through public perception is not something strange to historians, as well as to artists and writers. Most of what we know about our historic heroes is sufficient to give them god-like traits and gain them a cult following, guaranteeing an enduring place on the pages of history. Their high profile, radical positions and struggles usually overshadow the rest of their lives. The freedom fighters of the cyberspace are not that different from traditional ones in terms of radicalism and impact; the only differences being the neutral nature of the digital terrain, which seems to make all the difference as this book shows. Having been a Linux reporter since its inception, Glyn Moody justly dedicates a major portion of his book to describing the inner workings of the Linux kitchen in gratifying details. We get early to learn about Linus, the Finnish student who starts Linux as a hobby project in his bedroom, only to find himself leading an army of "lieutenants" in developing an operating system equaling, if not superseding, the functionality of the one built by the most powerful corporation in the world, Microsoft. It is through these lieutenants that we hold the threads to what constitutes a network of creative, liberal minds who believe in sharing knowledge as the most important catalyst of progress and innovation. If we track all these threads, however, they would lead us to a focal point in which they all meet: Richard Stallman, the father of Free Software as he is usually denoted. Moody takes Stallman's exceptional efforts to promote the freedom of software as the starting point of his research, going through Stallman's GNU project, Linus' Linux, Walls' Perl, Lee's Internet among others, to build a case for why freedom is essential for progress, and how openness can be compatible with business. In the early chapters, the author tells the story of the radicalization of Stallman, that is how he got so attached to the idea of software freedom to the point of dedicating his whole life for that cause. We learn about of Stallman's days in MIT's AI lab and the "hacker" culture -- hacking in the good sense of the word -- of sharing the code to add more features and provide patches for improving existing software. Considering it as the best days of his life, the destruction of this community through commercialization, when most of the fellow hackers were sucked by a newly formed company from within, working in closed source had led Stallman to join a competing company to nullify their work. In this phase, Stallman single-handedly equalled the work of a team of fellow hackers just to retaliate the destruction of his community, yet it was the preface of a more radical action with a much more enduring effect. After leaving the company in which he was working, Stallman's ideals of software freedom began to formalize in his head. Now, his target was not of mere vengeance for his local hacker community, but to recreate a similar one on a global stage. He started to work, again single-handedly, on the almost impossible goal of creating on his own a free operating system -- with the word "free" signalling the availability of the code, rather than the price of the product. This "freedom" concept was later formalized into the General Public License (GPL), which generally allows the reselling of software under the condition of keeping the source freely available, allowing reselling and modification, in what is usually called "copyleft," in contrast to the copyrights of proprietary software. Through these condition, Stallman wanted to ensure the continuity of the freedom of any software, and consequently the freedom of a development ecosystem built upon the values of cooperation in place of competition, a cause he planned to defend through the inception of the Free Software Foundation. As extraordinary goals need extraordinary work, Stallman quickly realized that he needs to build upon the work of others. His aim was to build a Unix clone. As the Unix structure allowed for the integration of several modular parts, he would build each module on its own, test it, and then, when all modules are built, integrate them using a kernel software. In his quest for already built modules, Stallman used his own EMACS text processor, a modified version of a software he used to work on in the AI lab. In an effort to save the effort of writing a compiler from scratch, Stallman approached professor Andrew Tanenbaum of the Free University of Amsterdam to use a compiler he had built for educative purposes. Tanenbaum refused by saying, "the university is free; the compiler isn't." Stallman resorted to writing the compiler, a very daunting task, which probably encouraged him to send another request to Tanenbaum so as to use another product to fill the missing piece in his project, the micro-kernel. Again Tanenbaum refused, citing his disagreement with the copyleft conditions. Stallman's GNU project (stands recursively for GNU Not Linux) was complete but for the missing kernel, a piece that he later started to work on, but was to be filled by the effort of another man, Linus. Linus' project didn't start out of conviction like that of Stallman, but rather out of boredom combined with the desire of self-education. As a student, he was a user of Minix, Tanenbaum's educative Unix operating system, and so he wanted to develop a basic clone of it on Intel's 386 architecture. Linus used intensively Minix's online message board to get initial help with his project. Eventually, however, his small project would expand into a kernel employing many of Stallman's modules to provide an operating system that not only would surpass Minix and throw it into oblivion, but would also replace Stallman's kernel as the last piece of the GNU puzzle. Most of the communications in Linux's early stage were done on Minix's message board. One would bet that Tanenbaum wasn't very happy looking at this young project overshadowing his own. This lead to unfortunate events in which Tanenbaum -- somewhat portrayed as a villain throughout the book -- engaged in flame wars with Linus over technical issues such as portability (Linux was initially fixed on Intel's 386 architecture) and the usage of micro-kernels (Linux didn't use it, while Minix did). He even did the terrible mistake of calling Linux "obsolete" in a clear lack of foresight. Yet, if it wasn't for Tanenbaum's Minix and its message board, Linux wouldn't have gained such an early popularity among the hackers who quickly jumped into the Linux bandwagon, developing new features, providing patches, and testing components. Despite the expansion of the Linux community of developers throughout the years, Linus was able to keep his central role intact. That was due, in large, to the fact of his ability to delegate many tasks to his volunteering "lieutenants" to filter out the stuff before it reaches him. Each of his lieutenants was responsible for several parts of the code, clinging to certain features in accordance with his expertise. Such spontaneous, hierarchical specialization allowed for better manageability given the distributed nature of the team. It was basically meritocracy in action, with people rising to the task without being asked to do so. Features were selected based upon the popular demand of the user base, as well as the release schedule. The instantaneous response provided by the internet allowed for a supply based on demand through rapid releases, instead of a supply which uses marketing to manufacture demand, like in the case of proprietary software. If a feature was not developed effectively, a users' outcry would be enough for someone else to pick it up and branch the development, allowing Linus to choose the better implementation in his official release. That was what is often called the Linux method. As one reads through the book, he will find different flavours of free software and open source development, some of them even preceding Stallman and Linus. Eric Allman wrote Sendmail, a software for e-mail routing, back in 1980, putting the first piece into the puzzle of Internet freedom. Larry Wall started in 1987 a Unix scripting language he called Perl, allowing its development in an open source fashion. Moreover, the internet is built upon a foundation of open source software because of its freedom. Many projects were also later able to build upon Linux's success and add to it including the GIMP and its GTK, Debian, KDE, GNOME, Mozilla, and Apache among others. The details of the emergence and success of these projects are well documented by Moody in an interesting fashion without losing focus on the workings of the open source communities with all the politics and diplomacy -- or the lack thereof -- involved. Among the extensive list of software projects mentioned in the book, arises some pieces of literature, mentioned for their effective analysis and important impact in the progress of the open source and free software communities. In addition to the licenses' role as open source legal binders, the community needed advocacy more than anything else. Moody insists that Eric Raymond's essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" played such a role by showing how open source provide an effective ecosystem for software development. Larry McVoy's Sourceware proposal was prophetic and alarming at the same time: it exposed the problem of fragmentation in the Unix market, asking for backing a single flavor of Unix, either SunOS or Linux. Eric Hahn's Hersey Documents played an important role in convincing Netscape to release its web browser as open source, a move that yielded the inception of the Mozilla project. And finally, Microsoft's infamous Halloween Documents signaled the giant's acknowledgement of free software as a viable alternative. Most of the later chapters of the book deal with open source as a business model. In its effort to prove the point of open source's compatibility with business, the book, unwillingly, exposes its shortcomings too. Many of the examples of successful businesses in the nineties were of resellers of freely available software on CDs or even magnetic tapes -- a business model that is no more viable in most cases. This eventually evolves into a more durable model, that is firms offering technical support for Linux products. Other start-ups focused on building online communities or selling hardware supporting Linux. But many of the examples mentioned were of inflated success due to the dot-com boom of that time. In the last few chapters, however, we see that many technology giants have supported the open-source model either by providing Linux-based products and support, or by releasing their own products as open source, a trend that still continues to this day, albeit with somewhat less enthusiasm. Yet, the book is filled with optimism that is only tuned down in the postscript of the second edition, which was written after the boom was busted. Nevertheless, the author correctly, even if coincidentally, implies that the future of Linux may lie in the field of embedded systems rather than desktops. Linus remained strange to the commercial world of Linux until later in his life when he decided to join a hardware company in Silicon Valley. Stallman, however, fell completely out of relevance in all the chapters dealing with business. This mirrors to some facts we learn in the first chapters about both personalities: mainly, Linus being a pragmatist, and Stallman being a radical. While he was never against selling free software, Stallman demonstrated no interest in doing business. His philosophy is based on sharing as the base of freedom, insisting that it is an ethical matter. Linus, on the other hand, did use the GPL for practical reasons: to make Linux grow and get distributed easily. It was the reselling issue (the fact that someone could make money by reselling your product) that initially turned Linus away from this particular license, and it is what proved to be substantial in distributing Linux quickly, along with the Internet. Later, Linus became generally complacent about people making money out of Linux, even if the business mixture included dealings with some proprietary software. Stallman, meanwhile, remained defiant against any attempt to contaminate what he perceived as pure free software, and that's why he remained sceptical of the whole "open source" movement, considering it a distraction from his own "free software." Because the book is more oriented towards the history of open source products, it largely overlooks the ethical ground of making source code available for everyone (Stallman's case). It mentions, however, the expansion of the open source phenomenon into other industries, and how this could revolutionize the way business is done. In an a time prior to Wikipedia (the second edition of the book was released in 2002), maybe one should not expect more, given that Google, for example, is mentioned only once or twice in the context of just being the coolest search engine around. Yet, the author could have elaborated more on why Stallman took it as a moral obligation, and how, if the whole world turned into open source, it would make the world better, or not. I believe this was appropriate for the book since what it indirectly proves over and over -- at least for me -- is that open source is at odds with direct competition, and that all the mentioned businesses are nothing but a deformity in a business world run by the closed source ideals. It was particularly interesting to see the "chief theoretician" of the open source movement, Eric Raymond, a staunch believer in the free market -- a contradiction with the open source sharing ideals in my dictionary! Despite the plethora of projects mentioned in the book, there is more politics than technology in Rebel Code. One of the questions that I was left pondering about after reading the book was whether Linus is a dictator or not. On a broader sense: is openness and sharing (aka. open source) a perquisite for freedom or not? I found my answer in the book while reading about Linus' method of developing Linux, as well as Tim Bernard-Lee's effort to standardize the Internet. For Linux, the community is like a population which has a centralized government and a single head -- permanent for that matter -- but which has limited, if any, control over its citizens. This limited control is because discontented citizens can go elsewhere and start a new government if they want, thanks to the neutrality of the digital terrain. And that's the beauty of the book, that one can find the efforts of many human beings living far off each others combined to create great things, like defining freedom itself. Any reader of the Rebel Code must take into his consideration the context in which it was written. The booming years are responsible for the over optimistic tone, and the author's background is responsible for what might seem some sort of bias against Microsoft -- along with Microsoft's unethical actions of course. In the whole book, I found only two unreasonable passages demeaning the giant corporation (two is a small number given that the back cover personifies Microsoft as Goliath): The first is in the prologue, when Moody provides a somewhat comical setting of frightened engineers inside Mcirosoft's headquarters, while the second being the accusation of Microsoft's misconduct during Mindcraft's benchmarks saga discussed in the sixteenth chapter. Apart from that, I find the book to be very informative and well researched. If you are a programmer, you will most probably fall in love with the book; maybe even you will feel like writing the lines of codes hidden between the lines. An informed reader will like the fact that many of his beloved projects will be popping as he goes across the pages. A historian will enjoy the chronology and the references. Yet, it doesn't take a geek to appreciate the hard work that is spilled throughout the pages. Rebel Code is full of amusing facts including why Linux has a penguin mascot, what there is in the name of Red Hat, why Stallman wanted to rename Linux, and what PERL stands for. Most importantly though, if you care about freedom, you will definitely appreciate the message encompassing this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ethan

    Open-source software (OSS) is the most impactful, technological concept (not invention) ever conceived. With hundreds of people collaborating on a single, multi-faceted project, an astronomical amount of progress is able to be achieved. And yet, often this is done for free, without expectation of riches or fame to follow. The question that follows is obvious: Why? Why would people spend time outside of their paid job to code for little to no recognition nor money? Well, why do people volunteer i Open-source software (OSS) is the most impactful, technological concept (not invention) ever conceived. With hundreds of people collaborating on a single, multi-faceted project, an astronomical amount of progress is able to be achieved. And yet, often this is done for free, without expectation of riches or fame to follow. The question that follows is obvious: Why? Why would people spend time outside of their paid job to code for little to no recognition nor money? Well, why do people volunteer in general? For one, they feel part of a community helping to volunteer. The same feeling applies for these OS projects. These contributors are working with people from all over the world with similar interests, helping them to improve a project for everyone else. A sense of progress is another motivator. We as humans love to see tangible progress in things we do. Productivity apps nowadays rely on the concept of "gamifying" things, i.e. showing you making progress while doing various tasks. Every accepted pull request on Github is one small (or possibly big) step of progress for that project and anything that project goes to support. Anyways, off my soapbox and onto the book. The book primarily focuses on the inception, development, and commercialization of the open-source operating system Linux. Originally created in 1991 by Linus Torvalds, a Finnish graduate student at the time, as an alternative to MINIX, it grew exponentially as more and more people online heard about it. Other relevant open-source projects, concepts, and people are detailed and discussed, e.g. Richard Stallman and his GNU Project, Free Software Foundation, and GNU General Public License. (GPL is quite clever in that any product that uses another product that is licensed under GPL must also be licensed under GPL. The product's freeness then propagates the down the line. This concept is called copyleft.) Note that this book was published in 2001, well before the advent of Github, a company that hosts both public and private projects. It used a system called Git, which was also created by Linus to help aide Linux development. While I don't keep up with software news, I suspect this book can easily be rewritten to reflect the events that have occurred in the open-source community since 2001 (20 years ago, what!). If you are interested in programming as a career or hobby, I highly encourage you to join Github and see if you can help contribute to an open-source project. They are always looking for people to help, even if your experience is little to none. Find a project, fix a bug or add a feature, and submit a pull request. The worst thing that can happen is it gets rejected. My rating is two stars for excitement (no offense, but how exciting can a book like this be?) and five stars for comprehensiveness and research put into this book. There is no source section, but he mentions "the vast majority of quotations in this book are drawn from interviews". Would be nice to see the sources he did draw from (that weren't direct conversations) listed. Further reading: - Code by Charles Petzold. - The Information by James Gleick. - DOOM (video game) source code. If you're interested in retro games, check this out. - Apollo 11 source code. This repository contains the code that first got man to the moon back in 1969 on the Apollo mission.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Landis

    _Rebel Code_ satisfies on several levels. It is, most fundamentally, the history of a cultural movement, free software/open source. It is also an explication of the philosophy behind that movement, teasing out the differences between the free software movement and open source, where they differ and where they overlap, and letting the spokespeople speak for this movement with their own words. As history, it blends several techniques: oral history as well as history of technology, discussing specs _Rebel Code_ satisfies on several levels. It is, most fundamentally, the history of a cultural movement, free software/open source. It is also an explication of the philosophy behind that movement, teasing out the differences between the free software movement and open source, where they differ and where they overlap, and letting the spokespeople speak for this movement with their own words. As history, it blends several techniques: oral history as well as history of technology, discussing specs when appropriate but never alienating readers who might be reading it for other reasons. It is also a story of the interpersonal conflicts and cooperations that drove this history. If you have any interest in Linux and open source or even just in the promise that open source represented in the 90s, regardless of your technical knowledge, you will find a fascinating story told in an engaging way.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter Smith

    It feels a little unfair to review a book like this so long after it was written, given that I know what has happened in the years since. That said, it feels really dated today. The first half is a fun recap of how Linux and the open-source movement came into being, but as others have noted, the second half is much less interesting. It's more breathless enthusiasm for various companies that embraced, or were built on, open source, coupled with the author taking every opportunity to knock Microso It feels a little unfair to review a book like this so long after it was written, given that I know what has happened in the years since. That said, it feels really dated today. The first half is a fun recap of how Linux and the open-source movement came into being, but as others have noted, the second half is much less interesting. It's more breathless enthusiasm for various companies that embraced, or were built on, open source, coupled with the author taking every opportunity to knock Microsoft (back when he was writing MS was still the evil empire, after all). All in all, more objectivity might have helped, but a book like this which spends a lot of time predicting the future is never going to hold up well over time.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Shrimp

    An extensive look into the history of Linux from the creation of unix all the way to its early adaptations and its penetration into the public sphere in the late '90s and the events of Linux in 2001. The book isn't perfect, its prose tends to be repetitive and devolve into a documentarian style book, and definitely is a little skewed towards Linux, which is somewhat understansable considering the Linux excitement in the early '00s. An extensive look into the history of Linux from the creation of unix all the way to its early adaptations and its penetration into the public sphere in the late '90s and the events of Linux in 2001. The book isn't perfect, its prose tends to be repetitive and devolve into a documentarian style book, and definitely is a little skewed towards Linux, which is somewhat understansable considering the Linux excitement in the early '00s.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rob Warner

    This book was written during the dotcom bubble, with an Afterword after the bubble burst. So it gets the history right, and misses on some predictions. Most notably, it didn't foresee a world in which desktops fade in relevance, replaced by smartphones. BUT, it correctly predicts that Linux would continue to grow -- both on the server side, and in the form of Android. For me, it was a walk down memory lane. Good stuff. This book was written during the dotcom bubble, with an Afterword after the bubble burst. So it gets the history right, and misses on some predictions. Most notably, it didn't foresee a world in which desktops fade in relevance, replaced by smartphones. BUT, it correctly predicts that Linux would continue to grow -- both on the server side, and in the form of Android. For me, it was a walk down memory lane. Good stuff.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Vera

    I feel like a lot of research must have gone into this book and it is quite interesting for the first half or first two thirds or so. After that, it got a little boring for me personally (covering a bunch of companies and their doings in the late 90s/early 2000s). Would be interested in reading an update to this that covers major events since then in a similar writing style.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jack-Benny

    I loved the first half of this book, really well written and interesting. But the last half of this book was hard to get through, almost to the point of boring. But since the first half was so good, I recommend it either way.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Simone Scardapane

    Very good history of the origin of open source software; the second half focuses too much on current (at the time) events (2000), and as such it feels quite outdated today. Still worth a good read for anyone interested in the history.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Josepha

    This is an important read for open source software maintainers, since there is a lot of history (and therefore lessons to be learned). It doesn't have a terribly cohesive voice, but I think that's to be expected. This is an important read for open source software maintainers, since there is a lot of history (and therefore lessons to be learned). It doesn't have a terribly cohesive voice, but I think that's to be expected.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Zim

    Sometimes a bit hard to get through. But totally worth it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Marko

    A pretty good history of the open source software movement although focus is on the 90's. The book is outdated by now and has some stuff that is a bit funny with the aid of hindsight. Companies long dead are lauded and technologies that never quite got off are the next big thing. Neverthless, I learned quite a few new things even though I have been following OSS movement and Linux from their infancy (just as a sidenote, OSS was coined in the late 90's, before that it was called Free Software). Fo A pretty good history of the open source software movement although focus is on the 90's. The book is outdated by now and has some stuff that is a bit funny with the aid of hindsight. Companies long dead are lauded and technologies that never quite got off are the next big thing. Neverthless, I learned quite a few new things even though I have been following OSS movement and Linux from their infancy (just as a sidenote, OSS was coined in the late 90's, before that it was called Free Software). For someone not familiar with software and computers I'm not quite sure if they can understand everything in the book. The author does try to explain technical terms but in some cases I don't think the explanations help much. He also keeps referring to Linux as GNU/Linux. This was a hot topic in the 90's when quite a lot of people argued that since Linux distributions are largely based on GNU tools (a toolset created by Richard Stallman, one of the most influential programmers in the world) it should reflect on the name. Well, that one particular debate has been won by the other side. Incidentally, the book gives insight on how this naming came to be. I find Stallman's stance interesting considering his attitude towards freedom. I liked the first three quarters or so of the book quite a lot but the last quarter is the one with lots of stuff about things that never really became so important. Moody gets a bit too excited about some of these things and also spends maybe a bit too much time talking about different Linux distributions. Many of these have either disappeared altogether or been marginalized. Nevertheless, he also picks up some things that are often overlooked in books that popularize software. He actually spends quite a lot time explaining about the software that non-technical people have probably never heard of like sendmail or samba. These are some of the cornerstones of our modern day computing societies so it's nice that their authors get a word. Of course it is software like this that have had a big impact on OSS (or free software). Moody has included most of the important people involved in the free software movement and lets them explain why they did what they did. So all in all, not a bad book except for the last part which gets a bit clumsy and includes lots of stuff that is uninteresting today. Some of his predictions are also outdated and to some extend quite optimistic. If you are a non-technical person wanting to learn why people want to give their software out for free you could do worse than this. The book does attempt to open up this mindset. You will also get a brief history of the movement. People more familiar with the subject will find some interesting comment from these programming superstars as well as a few interesting tidbits. I was unfamiliar with the events that almost led to the Linux kernel being forked. I read the Finnish translation and there were quite a few errors. Someone not versed with OSS and software might have had a tough time understanding some things in the book because of these.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alexander

    Linus Torvalds has always been a bit of a polarizing character, for those in the open source community. Some, like myself, are fans and think that he is not only a brilliant software engineer and enigmatic leader, but also a great storyteller and creative mind. Others think he is a buffoon with too much control over the open source movement, much too opinionated and stubborn to be a leader, and to top it off, not a great coder either. This book delves into his life from childhood to modern day ( Linus Torvalds has always been a bit of a polarizing character, for those in the open source community. Some, like myself, are fans and think that he is not only a brilliant software engineer and enigmatic leader, but also a great storyteller and creative mind. Others think he is a buffoon with too much control over the open source movement, much too opinionated and stubborn to be a leader, and to top it off, not a great coder either. This book delves into his life from childhood to modern day (at least, modern when it was written a little over ten years ago), showing how his interest in computers was sparked as a child with his grandfather's VIC-20, leading up to his acquisition of a Sinclair QL (a computer I hadn't heard much about but immediately had to look up!) which helped spark his motivation to write Linux. The QL was so obtuse, and the pack-in software so mediocre and difficult to use, that Linus learned everything he could about it in order to improve upon the software, and write some of his own. (view spoiler)[After entering university, he managed to scrape up the money to buy a 386 -- considered the gold standard at the time. Unable to get the version of UNIX he was using at school, he picked up Minix, an OS designed by an OS design professor to learn about system design. Patching Minix to run on a 386 and to fully take advantage of its powerful hardware was no trivial task, and even after this undertaking Linus was less than impressed with it. He started to write separate auxiliary programs, such as a terminal controller to log into the University's servers. This was alongside Minix, on a separate partition. He quickly became an expert on 386 assembly code. Linus's terminal slowly grew, until he accidentally overwrote the partition that was holding Minix! He had a tough decision to make -- continue expanding his terminal to be a basic OS, or go through the agony of re-installing and patching Minix. (hide spoiler)] Dive into this amazing book and learn the story of both Linus and Linux!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    Great read about the beginnings of Linux and other open source projects. The first few chapters on Linux specifically were fascinating, and very encouraging to see how just a few people can start a project so large. The middle and end of the book dragged on a bit long. Unfortunately, the book becomes difficult to follow after the first few chapters, as many new projects and individuals are introduced. The segues are brief and forced, and often connect topics with no relation at all leaving the re Great read about the beginnings of Linux and other open source projects. The first few chapters on Linux specifically were fascinating, and very encouraging to see how just a few people can start a project so large. The middle and end of the book dragged on a bit long. Unfortunately, the book becomes difficult to follow after the first few chapters, as many new projects and individuals are introduced. The segues are brief and forced, and often connect topics with no relation at all leaving the reader confused. Other times companies are introduced with no mention of what they actually DID, but rather mentioned offhand with vague statements. Later, other companies are introduced as "similar to previous company XYZ", leaving the reader with no clue what is actually going on. Additionally, if you're looking for an unbiased account, this isn't exactly it. The book mostly stays on task, but often makes comments to paint companies that produce proprietary code in a poor light.

  23. 5 out of 5

    S.M. Johnson

    I'm torn on how to rate this book. On the one hand, it was a very comprehensive and well-written read about the origins of many popular open source projects such as Linux, Mozilla, GIMP, GNU, and so forth. On the other hand I feel that it was possibly too comprehensive - the book is very long, and unless you are already acquainted with Linux and open source I feel that there aren't many people out there who will be interested in all the nitty gritty details of, say, gtk or X Window System. That s I'm torn on how to rate this book. On the one hand, it was a very comprehensive and well-written read about the origins of many popular open source projects such as Linux, Mozilla, GIMP, GNU, and so forth. On the other hand I feel that it was possibly too comprehensive - the book is very long, and unless you are already acquainted with Linux and open source I feel that there aren't many people out there who will be interested in all the nitty gritty details of, say, gtk or X Window System. That said, this book did result in me tweeting something which Linus Torvalds later read in a video, so I've gotta thank this book for making my day.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark Osborne

    It really needs an update given it was written in 2001, but this is really the definitive story of Linus Torvalds and the kernel that set the free software up for the dominance it currently enjoys. It's thorough: I learnt more about coding than I thought possible, and his Moody recounts, almost line by line, significant newsgroup posts from Torvalds and his key collaborators, but if you're at all interested in free software or linux, this is good read. It really needs an update given it was written in 2001, but this is really the definitive story of Linus Torvalds and the kernel that set the free software up for the dominance it currently enjoys. It's thorough: I learnt more about coding than I thought possible, and his Moody recounts, almost line by line, significant newsgroup posts from Torvalds and his key collaborators, but if you're at all interested in free software or linux, this is good read.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Francis

    Very nice. I had been putting it off for a while but its very instructive of the early years of the open source movement. I'd love to put my hands on an up-to-date version - this second edition was published in 2002 and it seemed like Linux would "take over" - though 10 years later Mac OSX has taken a party, but MS remains king in the OS world... f. Very nice. I had been putting it off for a while but its very instructive of the early years of the open source movement. I'd love to put my hands on an up-to-date version - this second edition was published in 2002 and it seemed like Linux would "take over" - though 10 years later Mac OSX has taken a party, but MS remains king in the OS world... f.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Hendricks

    Not too bad of a read, though it is mostly historical. The few personal stories it shares are few and far between. As others have noted, the latter half of the book isn't nearly as interesting as the first half. Not too bad of a read, though it is mostly historical. The few personal stories it shares are few and far between. As others have noted, the latter half of the book isn't nearly as interesting as the first half.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Raphael

    A must read for anyone who is curious about Hacker Culture. Although it is pretty biased (I.E. The Big Bag Microsoft vs The Great and Good Linux), it does a good job explaining the origins of the FOSS and OSS movements. Even though it's pretty dated now, any technology enthusiast should read it. A must read for anyone who is curious about Hacker Culture. Although it is pretty biased (I.E. The Big Bag Microsoft vs The Great and Good Linux), it does a good job explaining the origins of the FOSS and OSS movements. Even though it's pretty dated now, any technology enthusiast should read it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Zack

    Ok I didn't totally read it. I couldn't get into it. But I got the movie that was based on this and really liked that. Ok I didn't totally read it. I couldn't get into it. But I got the movie that was based on this and really liked that.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vinod Kurup

    Recommended by @cgoldberg

  30. 4 out of 5

    Karthikeyan Ramaswamy

    Reading about the history of open source is really good but i feel like the book is outdated. May be Rebel code 2.0 is needed?

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