This documentary uses interviews to trace the origins of Linux, and in the process, it provides an interesting insight into the open source movement and its philosophy.
Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU project, is featured prominently throughout the film. (GNU is a set of applications that provide a UNIX-compatible framework.) He explains how GNU was developed through the open source environment, an environment where code can be taken, modified, and shared, but it cannot be made proprietary. He also explains the development of the GNU General Public License which prohibits developers from making the code proprietary.
During GNU's development, Linus Torvalde, was developing a kernel--which was just the piece that was missing from the open source environment. (A kernel is use to allocate resources to other applications.) This kernel became Linux. As Stallman said, it would take years to get GNU and Linux to work together smoothly, but eventually things would take off. Although Linux started in 1991 with 10,000 lines of code, it might have remained a hobbyist's OS, if it had not been for the Apache web server. Apache became the 'killer app,' the business case for buying Linux. (There is an interview shown with Brian Behlendorf, president of the Apache project.) By 1998, Linux had 7.5 million users and companies like Red Hat were contributing to its growth by selling distribution and support.
This film also shows the tug-of-war between Microsoft and open source proponents. Eric S. Raymond, author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, describes some differences between the proprietary and open source environments, and he explains how his book was one of many influences on Netscape's decision to release their source code.
You will see interviews with Michael Tieman (co-founder of Cygnus Technology) and Larry Augustin (co-founder of VA Linux). The interview with Bruce Perens, author of Open Source Definition, is interesting. It is used throughout the film to frame the GNU and Linux development stories within the open source context. Also, as Perens lists the 'rights' of open software, one senses that the open source philosophy is one that has been seriously thought out.
Overall, this was an interesting documentary. However, I'm giving it only 4 stars because I found the segment at the end (where Torvalde and Augustin were speaking) to be very tedious. It didn't add to the content and it seemed more like personal 'grand-standing.' Still, I'd recommend this film to anyone who is interested in computer history or is looking to get a better understanding of what the open source movement is about.