9780596001315 / 0596001312

The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary


Publisher:O'Reilly Media



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About the book:

It may be foolish to consider Eric Raymond's recent collection of essays,The Cathedral and the Bazaar, the most important computer programming thinking to follow the Internet revolution. And yet it would be more unfortunate to overlook the implications and long-term benefits of Raymond's fastidious description of Open Source software development considering the growing dependence businesses and economies have on emerging computer technologies.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar takes its title from an essay of the same name which Raymond read at the 1997 Linux Congress and that was previously available only online. The essay documents Raymond's acquisition, re-creation and numerous revisions of an email utility known as fetchmail. Raymond engagingly narrates the fetchmail development process while at the same time elaborating upon the on- going bazaar development method he employs with the assistance of numerous volunteer programmers who participate in the writing and debugging of the code. The essay smartly spares the reader from the technical morass that could easily detract from the text's goal of demonstrating the efficacy of the Open Source, or bazaar, method in creating robust, usable software.

Once Raymond has established the components and players necessary for an optimally running Open Source model, he sets out to counter the conventional wisdom of private, closed source software development. Like superbly written code, the author's arguments systematically anticipate their rebuttals. For those programmers who "worry that the transition to open source will abolish or devalue their jobs", Raymond adeptly and factually counters that "most developer's salaries don't depend on software sale value." Raymond's uncanny ability to convince is as unrestrained as his capacity for extrapolating upon the promise of Open Source development.

In addition to outlining the Open Source methodology and its benefits, Raymond also sets out to salvage the hacker moniker from the nefarious connotations typically associated with it in his essay "A Brief History of Hackerdom" (not surprisingly he is also the compiler of The New Hacker's Dictionary). Recasting "hackerdom" in a more positive light may be a heroic undertaking in itself, but considering the Herculean efforts and perfectionist motivations of Raymond and his fellow Open Source developers, that light is going to shine bright. - -Ryan Kuykendall,

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