rebel code

Just wrapped up "rebel code" by Glyn Moody. It's an obscure open source history book that doesn't even show up on Amazon. My dad got it for me. At first I scoffed at the book, because I was in the GNU/Linux/OSS revolution. Now, I realize I was wrong, while I could identify with most of events that Moody tracks, that redundant information didn't detract from viewing the revolution in it's entirety...

The book covers a nice range of history. It start with the advent of Unix right up to Windows 2000 and IBM's linux hug. After his coverage of unix Moody moves on the the obligitory RMS jesus-in-the-desert story.

There is a lot of discussion about linux and linus. Moody explains how it filled Hurds niche. He mentions the Linus v. Tannenbaum flame wars. He covers Linus' move to the use to work for Transmeta.

I was really interested to read the history of all the companies; TurboLinux, RedHad, Cygnus, Debian, etc. There's discussion of the linux IPO frenzy. There's talk about all the companies scraping and groveling to get a piece of OSS. Moody also spends a good deal of time on the development of the internet from perspective of free software projects that springboarded it's inception like sendmail, ncsa, mosaic, netscape, and bind.

rebel code addresses on of the pentultimate open source questions. What business model uses open source and is sustainable? He covers everything from packaging a product, to strapping on proprietary components, to support services. It's a really interesting read on that level. Although, he doesn't draw any epiphanic conclusions. He does seperate markets into roughly server, desktop and embedded.

That seperation requires a discussion of the history of the QT & GTK projects. Then he covers that whole war; QT works, but GTK is free (as in freedom). He covers what the implications of free media software on end user's machines means to media corporations (MPAA, RIAA et al.).

The book closes with talk about leadership. How does the open source movement stay moving? Who will replace Stallman, Linus, Cox? He concludes that open source has planned for that and that there are budding young hackers and leaders all over the world. Then ends with Moody's typical senseless nobility that niggled at me through the book (I'm a cynic):

In the end, GNU/Linux and the open source projects are not about software code only. As this book has described, they are aslo about freedom, sharing, and community; they are about creation, beauty, and what hackers call "fun"-though "joy" would be nearer the mark. They are rebels against the worst, and that will exist as long as humanity endures.