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

Eric S. Raymond
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary 3.1 out of 5 stars (7)
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Book Description

Oct. 11 1999

"This is how we did it." --Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernelIt all started with a series of odd statistics. The leading challenger to Microsoft's stranglehold on the computer industry is an operating system called Linux, the product of thousands of volunteer programmers who collaborate over the Internet. The software behind a majority of all the world's web sites doesn't come from a big company either, but from a loosely coordinated group of volunteer programmers called the Apache Group. The Internet itself, and much of its core software, was developed through a process of networked collaboration.The key to these stunning successes is a movement that has come to be called open source, because it depends on the ability of programmers to freely share their program source code so that others can improve it. In 1997, Eric S. Raymond outlined the core principles of this movement in a manifesto called "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," which was published and freely redistributed over the Internet.Mr. Raymond's thinking electrified the computer industry. He argues that the development of the Linux operating system by a loose confederation of thousands of programmers--without central project management or control--turns on its head everything we thought we knew about software project management. Internet-enabled collaboration and free information sharing, not monopolistic control, is the key to innovation and product quality.This idea was interesting to more than programmers and software project leaders. It suggested a whole new way of doing business, and the possibility of unprecedented shifts in the power structures of the computer industry.The rush to capitalize on the idea of open source started with Netscape's decision to release its flagship Netscape Navigator product under open source licensing terms in early 1998. Before long, Fortune 500 companies like Intel, IBM, and Oracle were joining the party. By August 1999, when the leading Linux distributor, Red Hat Software, made its hugely successful public stock offering, it had become clear that open source was "the next big thing" in the computer industry.This revolutionary book starts out with "A Brief History of Hackerdom"--the historical roots of the open-source movement--and details the events that led to the recognition of the power of open source. It contains the full text of "The Cathedral & the Bazaar," updated and expanded for this book, plus Mr. Raymond's other key essays on the social and economic dynamics of open source software development.Open source is the competitive advantage in the Internet Age. The Cathedral & the Bazaar is a must for anyone who cares about the computer industry or the dynamics of the information economy. Already, billions of dollars have been made and lost based on the ideas in this book. Its conclusions will be studied, debated, and implemented for years to come.


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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. But it would be more unfortunate to overlook the implications and long-term benefits of his 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 Raymond read at the 1997 Linux Kongress. The essay documents Raymond's acquisition, re-creation, and numerous revisions of an e-mail utility known as fetchmail. Raymond engagingly narrates the fetchmail development process while elaborating on the ongoing bazaar development method he uses with the help of volunteer programmers. 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 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 will shine brightly. --Ryan Kuykendall

From the Publisher

The Cathedral & the Bazaar is a must for anyone who cares about the future of the computer industry or the dynamics of the information economy. This revised and expanded paperback edition includes new material on open source developments in 1999 and 2000. Raymond's clear and effective writing style accurately describing the benefits of open source software has been key to its success. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Anthropology of Hackerdom Aug. 15 2002
Format:Paperback
Eric Raymond is the Margaret Mead of the Open Source movement. His analysis of the gift culture as a model for explaining why hackers write software without recieving direct financial compensation is original, and as far as I know, unique. The economic implications are vast: if programmers write programs as a hobby, and do not stand in need of income for doing so (assume that they have day jobs), with rewards being in the form of status and reputation, then why buy the equivalent of what they're giving away?
Linux is the focus of this branch of the hacker-programming movement, which can also be seen at work in Apache and Java. The nature of the movement - everyone agreeing to play by Open Source rules, a leader (Linus Torvalds) who sets goals but does not exert formal authority, and a market (the Bazaar) where knowledge is dispersed throughout, reminds one of the Austrian Economists, who believed that a system operating as a spontaneous order would show greater productivity than a command economy, because of the exponentially greater amount of brain power in use. Raymond makes much the same point, when he argues that, "With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow."
For Microsoft, this is a deadly threat. Proprietary software and operating systems are expensive, to develop and to buy. If Open Source products are seen as being of like kind and quality, them software becomes a commodity, and branded, proprietary products, and the businesses that sell them, are facing inevitible decline in their core market.
If Raymond's thesis is correct (I believe, as a layman, that it is), then by 2010, Windows may have gone the way of the British Empire - living in memore (digital or otherwise) only.
-LLoyd A. Conway
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4.0 out of 5 stars hacker = good guy March 23 2001
Format:Paperback
this collection of eric's papers is a wonderful start for anyone intersted in the open source "revolution." i suggest visiting his website also. eric's view on software development/management will change the way anyone thinks about the process and appreciate the power of the internet. also the word "hacker" won't strike one as a criminal anymore. great book.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Classic (now) book gives a great explanation of just how come Open Source software has taken the software world by storm. Eric is an old school hacker who has been around forever and gives an real feel for what exciting times they were when OSS started to fly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, Dec 21 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a pretty awesome book. ESR shines as a master historian of unix/open src/linux and the hacker culture.
a must read for any hacker at heart.
santy
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