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Rebel Code 140

Posted by JonKatz
from the -the-story-of-Linux-and-Linus- dept.
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)

Rebel Code: Inside Linux And The Open Source Revolution
author Glyn Moody
pages 333
publisher Perseus
rating 7/10
reviewer Jon Katz
ISBN 0-7382-0333-5
summary How Linus started it all

*

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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Rebel Code

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    "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.

  • Before the advent of Minix, then Linux, I would have to take expensive courses, which I couldn't afford, to learn about software and how it works. Today, with access to the source, the numerous HOWTOs and FAQs, I can teach myself anything without having to spend money.

    Learning should be free, as long as you are willing to work at it!

    ttyl
    Farrell
  • 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.
  • This is actually a fantastic question: what was the first open source project?

    The Iliad? Gilgamesh? Perhaps.

    The question may be precisely backward. If literature, etc, started with openness as the norm, then the interesting question is how recently the first closed source project happened.

    I'm reminded of something I read years ago. (Asimov? Silverberg?) The author suggested that the earliest writings were speculative (fantasy/science) fiction of their day, and mainstream fiction was the newer medium.

    And don't get me started on Western tonal harmony... :-)

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Jon KAtz didn't use the word geek until the ThinkGeek link! Huazzah!
  • 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.
  • It's a threat because when prices start falling all the valuable, richly-optioned employees are no longer quite so well compensated. People who aren't paid what they feel they are worth tend not to stick around too long, especialy in this job market.
  • 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!

  • 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."
  • The fundamental reason why communism has failed in the past is because humans by nature always want what they don't have. If in the future we can create abundant sources of energy combined with nano-technology, everybody could pretty much have anything they want. When you can eliminate people's wants and needs they will be free to enjoy more lofty intellectual pursuits. In fact this is pretty much the whole idea behind the Star Trek universe. And the type of government/society (as the two really become the same thing) for this future is socialism/communism.

    You must realize, even in the US, the grand land of freedom, justice, and capitalism we really truely don't have any freedom, justice, and capitalism. This is because the government has formed itself as an elitest group detached from society and serving it's own interests (not those of the people). Do you really feel like you have a choice of who represents you? Do you really like who you voted for, or was it just "the lesser of two evils"? Pretty sad if you really look at it.

    People need to stand up and take back thier governments. Tools like the internet and philosophies like Open Source are making a good start at doing this. The revolution is near, keep up the good work.

  • The Illiad? Epic of Gilgamesh?
  • by nijhof (44330)
    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?)

    Jeroen

  • Well, the book that clarifies this issue best, is O'Reilly's [oreilly.com] Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution [oreilly.com]. Freely available here [oreilly.com]. The introduction has a good rundown on the history.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    Regards,
    kovi

  • 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.
    --
  • Other than Jon Katz?
    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.
    Seriously... how many of us are not working in a Microsoft-dominated environment? Many thought IBM OS/2 Warp was going to end the Microsoft era. A powerful 32-bit, preemptive multitasking, OO OS that really did run well in 4-8 MB RAM (unlike NT) and ran all your old DOS and Windows 2.x/3.x apps. Yet it failed, not because people didn't buy it (it often outsold Windows 95) but because Microsoft used the illegal business tactic of charging computer makers for Windows on every computer they sold, even if it shipped with another OS. Since computer makers didn't want to pay twice for an OS, and neither did consumers, then the market was inundated with Packard Bell AOLers, the lowest common denominator.

    What makes you think anyone is going to start walking out of Best Buy with Linux PCs? How are they going to get half the peripherals to work? What about all those "IE Only" sites? What about funky browser plugins? How about all the ignoramuses who send everything in the latest Word or Excel file format as if everyone had them installed for free?

    If you really want to end the Microsoft regime, you need to stop thinking like amateur communists and start acting like slimy, devious capitalists... like Microsoft. Maybe someone needs to convert some rich bastard to Linux so he can start PAYING people to install it on their PCs.

  • From perusal and installation of wares from freshmeat, it seems that it is the most 'together' code that survives-- the most complete, feature-filled, and relatively bug-free. All that free code is not the fittest. However, much of it inter-operates with other code with pipes and such. This seems more like cooperation than survival of the fittest. Think of the systems in place at the bottom of the ocean. There is predation, sure, but just as much cooperation, and it's all interdependant.
  • 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]
  • by jidar (83795)
    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.
  • "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.
  • "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?"

    By this definition, Linux is non-free as well. Heck, you need a ~$1000 computer to run it, plus a few dollars a month for electricity. This does not make Linux non-free. The bandwidth to download it is non-free: many people find it cheaper to buy a $2 cheap bytes CD than to pay for the bandwidth.

    Is Linux free as in "free beer"? To the end user it isn't, it costs a few bucks to install. As far as the market is concerned, it is: the cost is exactly zero, and the economics of unlimited goods apply, rather than the standard supply and demand of scarce goods that everybody understands.

  • 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.

    The reason here is simple: Microsoft has no control whatsoever over any opensource project. But they have a firm grip on Apple. Once Apple becomes a thread (which is unlikely), they just drop their software for it (Office, IE,...). Problem solved.

    Everyone would laugh if they try that with Linux. So the only weapon they have is to publicly denounce open source. Everyone still laughs.

    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.

    That's right, but Microsoft doesn't make this easy for us. :-)

  • 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...

  • 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.

  • 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 ;-)
  • 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?
  • GCC is a large, complex project of well over a half million lines of code and a complexity that can take months to master. Yet it stands as an exmaple of a large project with its origins in free software (unlike Mozilla).

    Yet it steadily attracts contributors, most of whom tend to master small portions of the system leaving the rest to others.

    Of course GCC has quite a bit of corporate sponsorship, which doesn't hurt any...

  • 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.


    ------

  • 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.


    ------

  • 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.


    ------

  • Sounds about right ;-)
  • Errr..based on NT, which was a graphical hack of VMS...also from the 1970's
  • The other day I was speaking on the phone to a headhunter and she asked a question: "What _is_ open source, anyways?". I recommended that she read this book.
  • I am reading the book right now and i can state that it does not quite begin with linux; there IS some storyline set-up via a very quick overview of the pre-Linux world: a "Prologue" (mostly about Gates and how his company's early successes and recent setbacks follow the software crisis in general) and Chapter 1's "The Coolest Year."... BUT chapter 2 (pp.13) "The New GNU Thing" is perhaps more to your liking, tracing the history of Unix, hacking in general, GNU (RMS vs. Symbolics, RMS vs.Tanenbaum), and setting the stage as to why the linux kernel became what it is today.

    Hmmmm, a cheap metaphor: the world of software was balkanized (commercially (naturally) as well as in the research community (No Minix For You!)) and Torvalds' "hobby" project --slowly-- ignited the firestorm (cue brass section)...

    The nice thing about the linux community effort was that it was volunteer, hacker-driven ("for fun!"), and followed the Do It Yourself ethic (tired of waiting for GNU Hurd?, D.I.Y. my friend...)

  • 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?

  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Thanks.

    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.

    FP.

    --
  • "open source" people didn't come up with this, people have been seriously addressing property issues since the 19th century.

    It's called "anarchism", and Debian is a pretty good example of how an anrcho-syndicalist organization would work, albeit a non-profit one (note that there is no reason why Debian should be non-profit). There are large (and very successful) syndicalist cooperatives in Europe, but very few in the US.

    Kudos to RMS, but give credit where credit's due.

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

    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...
  • If you're going to indulge in spelling flames, at least amend your .sig. The correct spelling is Póg mo thóin!

  • VMS is a monolithic, architecture-dependent operating system written in VAX assembly language

    IIRC, the core of VMS is written in BLISS, which was a sort of portable assembly language. BLISS abstracted away some of the machine specifics so programs could be ported between the different Digital machine architectures (PDP, VAX, etc.) Most the libraries that make up the VMS runtime environment are written in higher-level languages.

    From the OpenVMS FAQ [decus.org]

    In what language is OpenVMS written?
    OpenVMS is written in a wide variety of languages.
    In no particular order, OpenVMS components are implemented using Bliss, Macro,Ada, PLI, VAX and DEC C, Fortran, UIL, VAX and Alpha SDL, Pascal, MDL, DEC C++, DCL, Message, and Document. And this is certainly not a complete list. However, the rumor is not true that an attempt was made to write pieces of OpenVMS in every supported language so that the Run-Time Libraries could not be unbundled. (APL, BASIC, COBOL and RPG are just some of the languages not represented!)

    So your assertion that VMS was programmed "on the metal" in assembly language is half-correct. The fact that VMS requires exotic hardware with multiple privilege levels... well, Digital were designing both the hardware and the OS, so it's not surprising there are strong ties between the VAX architecture and the VMS OS. Portability to non-Digital hardware was not an issue when VMS was conceived.

    I think what the original poster had in mind is that NT and VMS are similar conceptually (not surprising as one man, Dave Cutler, was responsible for both).

    NT is a portable microkernel written in C,

    Yadda yadda yadda, we all read this breathless marketroid shite back in 1991 when NT first appeared. If NT is so damn portable, why has it bombed on every platform except x86?

    And, IMNSHO, NT ceased to be a "microkernel" when they moved the GDI into kernel space just to squeeze a few more cycles out of the GUI.

    This is what makes it so easy to port the entire NT-based Windows OS to new platforms, using a single source tree.

    AFAIK, the porting strategy for Linux goes like this:

    • Fork the kernel source
    • Tweak what needs to be tweaked to get Linux running on the new architecture
    • Submit the changes back to the main kernel tree

    This is undesirable how?

    (in contrast to Linux, where 'ports' tend to use independent source trees, and rarely constitute complete systems)

    Depends on what you define as a "complete" system. A lot of these ports are special-purpose projects (e.g. embedded systems), in which case only a fraction of the full functionality of a desktop or server Linux system is required. Not much point in porting a GUI to a system that's intended to be used in a car's fuel injection system, you know.

  • Another Katz-hater in the making? Join the party!
  • Just a comment on your definition of communism as "the State owns everything, and directs how it is used." It's one of those unfortunate historical facts (like the fact that electricity flows in the opposite direction than the terms "positive" and "negative" imply") that the word "communism" has come to mean what you say. Marx thought of communism as an "advanced form of socialism" in which the state no longer existed, let alone controlled anything. Yes, that's right: communism is so far left that it's anarchism, libertarianism, and (if you relish ironies) far, far, right.

    Marx thought the only way to get there from here, however, was a transitional period of socialism while the state still existed. Communism could only happen, he stated, in wealthy industrial countries that had the infrastructure, e.g. Germany, U.K. It's another historical irony that the only countries that had pro-communist revolutions were poor agricultural societies like Russia. There was nothing to do but hold onto power for dear life and wait for those damned Westerners to get with the prophecy. As it happened, they waited 70 years.

    I'm not a communist myself. However, I'll happily argue with anyone who states that communism has failed that it hasn't even been tried on any scale larger than, say, the Oneida Colony.

    Gareth

  • 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...
    --

  • What about Windows 2000? I think you'll find that a slightly more advanced operating system than the dinosaur junk you're using.
  • 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
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    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?
  • 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? :)

  • If you're terribly worried that someone else might make money from selling binaries derived in part from some work you've done, then by all means use the GPL, but please don't pretend it's part of some holy crusade to prevent a return to the days of the UNIX wars. One of the few uniting elements in those days was BSD, without which UNIX would have just been another niche OS.

    I actually believe the GPL is a _little_ too restrictive, and plan to use the LGPL for most stuff I do. I want improvements made to my stuff to be available to me so I can learn, and available to the world so it can benefit.

    I agree with you about the role of BSD actually. :-) I have a lot of respect for BSD, but I won't use it until I see the anti-Linux and anti-GPL zealotry in that community die down. Feels icky to me, seems too much like a 'kill the other guy' competition. Perhaps I seem a bit of a GPL zealot to you, but I'm more of an anti-anti-GPL zealot zealot. *grin*

  • *shrug* We'll see. You can't predict what will happen, only experience it. If I were building a company around Open Source, I know exactly how I'd structure it, and it would make money. A lot of it.

  • The same goes for the idea that software isn't free unless there are onerous conditions attached to its use.

    I'm sorry, those restrictions are necessary to prevent my code from being stolen for commercial gain. If they want to use it, they have to give back. It keeps the whole thing from degenerating into the horrible scarcity based system it was in the 80s and early 90s.

  • When I get some money to invest, I'll probably put some into SuSe, Redhat, or maybe Va Linux. I think they are much better buys than Microsoft is right now.

  • Someone mentioned that you were using the mistaken 'communist == Soviet Union' equivalence. If you want a very interesting take on the differences between communism and capitalism and how they might apply in a world of nanofacturing, read "" by Ken MacLeod. Excellent book with a very European slant on politics. [fatbrain.com]

  • The correct link is "The Cassini Division [fatbrain.com]".

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • Very well said - and that illustrates a problem that is often missed.

    Microsoft's greatest enemy is its own delusion and own self-aggrandizement, as you said. And what is missed by the OS community is that their enemy is the very same traits. Ever minute spent contemplating the Flaws of Bill is a minute lost contemplating ones own potential for mistakes.

    That is why I would prefer the book reviews here be more focused on the books themselves and not propaganda, even if it is supposedly "correct." Every heartbeat spent creating FUD for Open Source is a heartbeat spent legitimizing the FUD from closed-source advocates.
  • By that measure, the USian style of capitalism doesn't work all that well. The Scandanavian style of socialism does appear to work very well. Of course, they have pretty much of a mono-culture (most of them are, yes, scandanavian) which helps. It was Churchill (IIRC) who said that Democracy (as practiced in the US and UK) is the worst form of government, except for all the others. The same is, in my opinion, true of the USian style of regulated capitalism.
  • 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 /.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Actually, the book is far more balanced in that respect than the review. It notes the controversy around the Mindcraft benchmarks, Samba and W2K, the Halloween documents.
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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.

    -bluebomber
  • 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.

  • 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?
  • 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.

  • 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?
  • The book starts with linux?

    Actually, I read the first chapter when it was published in Computer Weekly and it started with the 60s. Maybe this doesn't feature majorly in the book, but the extract I read spoke all about how open UNIX originally was (bug reports freely given out etc) and went on to talk about Bill Gates' rants against free software in the mid-70s. BSD was certinally also mentioned.

    --
  • 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?
  • 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.
    --

  • 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?"

  • 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.

    Okay.

    Technology is moving slowly.

    There is nothing particularly world-changing about replacing 90Mhz processors with 1.5GHz processors. What did we get? Active Desktop, and Solitaire was upgraded to FreeCell. Power structures are still the same, the reasons people live and die are still the same, the organization of societies follows the same principles as before 512K processor caches became de rigeur.

    I think computer technology stands a decent chance of having a noticeable impact on the way the world works, but it hasn't happened yet.

    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.

    Uh huh. I forget - which was coming first? Practical home fusion generators or personal jetcars? Or was it household robots to do the vacuuming and walk the dogs? These things have been "coming" since 1955. So far we have AIBO to show for it.

    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

    No argument here. But this, just like the libertarian paradise that certain idiot savants are always harping about, is untenable. There is a fundamental naïveté at work here.

    Some of the people in the world are extremely predisposed to greed. This in itself is not a problem; shun them Amish-style, or lock them away, or check their pockets on the way out, or whatever you need to do. The problem, however, is that greed is contagious. Once you have a smart greedy person setting an example by getting more than other people have, a share of onlookers will want to do the same. That in turn will lure still more away from the communitarian acivity du jour. At some point, the pie-in-the-sky system will break down.

    It's interesting that the extreme left (communism) and left (libertarianism) fantasies suffer from the identical problem: They're constructs championed by fairly smart people who are for some reason utterly unable to comprehend the ramifications of the apparently obscure fact that not everyone will share the same motivations.

    The only system that seems to be able to cope is market capitalism, which - surprise! - evolved on its own as a gradual response to how humans are inclined to behave.

  • 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".

  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @07:04AM (#414320) Journal
    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.

  • by Shimbo (100005) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @10:24AM (#414321)
    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).

    Focus is a good thing in a book. You don't get a good overview of WW1 by reading 'All Quiet on the Western Front' either.

    RMS gets about 20-30 pages, including the first substantial chapter. Only Linus gets a comparable amount.

    The book uses the term GNU/Linux throughout. And it refers to RMS as "more than just the greatest hacker who has ever lived".

    Without knowing what (or if) RMS' reservations are I woudn't like to comment further. However, some folks round here have gone way over the top.

  • by update() (217397) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @07:19AM (#414322) Homepage
    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.

  • by Martin Spamer (244245) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @10:20AM (#414323) Homepage Journal

    As a libertarian, I found the former USSR Government quite offensive, however I've got to play the devils advocate on this post because it does miss-lead.

    If we are to avoid repeating the former USSR mistakes, we need to truely understand them.

    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.

    The failure of the former USSR is primarily attributable to the totalitarian nature [Central Control in your words] of it's government, not to communism.

    [Communism] thus doesn't work in practice.

    Capitalist Governments have also collapsed.

    So Capitalism thus doesn't work in practice ?

    Indeed, it seems to force at least a third of the population to live in abject poverty, even in the richest countries [USA/Japan/UK/Canada/etc]. This also seems pretty totalitatian to me.

    Indeed if you measure 'success' as the highest medium (rather than mean) living standards, the most successful countries are the Scandanavian countries, with near zero real poverty, and socialist (not communist!) Governments. Indeed they are also very strongly social libertarian.

  • by Heidi Wall (317302) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:37AM (#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,

  • by Badgerman (19207) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @07:51AM (#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.

  • by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @07:26AM (#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.

    --

  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:49AM (#414327) Journal
    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.

  • by wiredog (43288) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:37AM (#414328) Journal
    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.
  • by laetus (45131) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:57AM (#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.
    ----------------------------------
  • by MartinG (52587) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @08:30AM (#414330) Homepage Journal
    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.
  • by fatphil (181876) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:49AM (#414331) Homepage
    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".

    FatPhil
    --
  • by HongPong (226840) <hongpong@h o n g p o n g . c om> on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:38AM (#414332) Homepage
    "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!"

    --

  • by Ananova (255600) on Wednesday February 21, 2001 @06:39AM (#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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