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Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution

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Spotlight Customer Reviews

Average Customer Rating: 4.25

Customer Rating: 4
Summary: How it came to be...
Comment: I very much enjoyed this book. Mr Moody writes well and entertainingly about the origins of the Free Software Foundation and the Open Source Movement. The historic characters in the drama are well drawn and engaging. Time and again I'd remark 'So, that's where he/it came from!' as Moody traced the origin of Apache or Samba or Alan Cox. I was very much reminded of the excellent history of the PC 'Fire in the Valley' that traces the origins of the PC industry to where we find it today. I would recommend Rebel Code to someone interested in GNU/Linux and the inner workings of how it came to be. This is a book for the tech historian, not necessarily the hacker.
If I were to fault the book it would be that is is 3 years old. As such it misses the effect of the tech bust/recession on the Linux movement, and the growing successes it has achieved recently from the third world (e.g. China's Red Flag distribution) to supercomputing. I can only hope Mr. Moody will correct this fault with another edition.

Customer Rating: 4
Summary: Pobody's Nerfect
Comment: For those of you who have short attention spans, this book contains easily the most complete, detailed, researched, and clearly expounded history of Linux, the Free Software Foundation, the open source movement, the hacker ethic, and most everything else that has been going on with computer geeks since the 1950s. If you're at all interested by what's happening in the "free as in speech" technology sector, this book is a dramatic must-read. Go and pick it up now.

If you're still with me, however, this book is absolutely plagued by the disease known as "technical writing". It's long been known that those who deal with computers and electronics on a day-to-day (hour-to-hour?) basis are not often the most linguistically inclined individuals. This "urban legend" is manifested predominantly in the work, taking its form through constant usage errors, many spelling errors, excruciatingly awkward prose (at times), and, although this is more of a non-issue considering the subject matter, just a little too much bias in one direction.

Just to show that I'm not making this up, Glyn Moody frequently refers to "X Window", rather than "X Windows" (even though that's technically incorrect), "XFree86", "X11", or the "X Windowing System". Other similar, subtle annoyances occur throughout the book, but make no mistake: they don't obscure Moody's points indecipherably, they just annoy. One of the sentences that forced me to question Moody's bias was from Chapter 11: "If the history of Microsoft shows anything, it is a dogged determination to improve its often inadequate first attempts at writing software, and Internet Explorer is no exception." This sentence, inserted just after describing Microsoft's assertions to the U.S. Department of Justice as "shameless", leaves the reader no choice but to second-guess Moody's intentions.

Is the book complete? Yes (at least, you won't find a more complete book around). Is the book perfect? No, and due to the frequency of grammatical and otherwise editorial errors, I have to reduce my would-be 5-star rating to 4. Do yourself a favor and read this (but if Perseus would release a corrected second edition, that'd be just fine with me :D).

As a side note, I'm a user of Linux and a supporter of the open source model. When you do read this book, you'll be forced to form an opinion of your own on software patents and the whole lot. I encourage you not to take the RMS standpoint of "free [open] is better, always", nor do I encourage you to take the Bill Gates standpoint of "protected code is better, always". Draw a useful parallel between the two opinions.

Customer Rating: 4
Summary: Must read!
Comment: The book gives a complete history of open source development starting from the earlier days of RMS and Linus. The strong point of the book is that the depth of coverage on open source history is unmatchable. My most favourite chapters are the ones that describe the early development of Linux and the history of Perl.

Reading the book gives the impression that author's bias against the RMS-style free-software. Also the author gives enough hints of his dislike for Microsoft's style of proprietary software. And towards the end, as the author starts explaining linux' entry into the corporate place, the book tends to be a bit dragging.

Overall, a must read for any open source enthusiast.