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The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux…

The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an… (edition 2001)

by Eric S. Raymond

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Title:The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary
Authors:Eric S. Raymond
Info:O'Reilly Media (2001), Edition: Revised, Paperback, 241 pages
Collections:Your library

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

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If you are interested in the roots of open source, this is a great read. The book is a collection of essays, with The Cathedral and the Bazaar being the best essay by far. The Brief History of Hackerdom + Revenge of the Hackers are interesting historical accounts; Appendix A is instructional for the clueless (and a pleasant refresher for the “part-time” hacker). The rest is, for the most part, an exposé into the hacker culture and is definitely worth reading.

A grain of salt. Some of the conclusions the author makes seem to be problematic, at least in my opinion. The author often compares the hacker community to the academic research community, but fails to follow one of the key requirements in science, which is to question one's results. Consider this: "Having established that prestige is central to the hacker culture's reward mechanisms, we now need to understand..." (p. 89) - this follows a section where the author actually *fails* to find evidence directly supporting his proposition: "many hackers ... show a strong reluctance to admit that their behavior was motivated by a desire for peer repute..." (p. 88). In academia, we would not state that our subject "failed to admit" something - because that implies that we know for a fact that our subject is "guilty", which begs the question: why even ask the subject? Why bother with doing research?

However, this is not a research paper - so what’s the big deal? To me, here’s the big issue: the author repeatedly refers to himself as an ethnographer, mentions qualitative research method, speaks of developing and testing theories, and makes frequent references to a variety of concepts from the social sciences. As a result, the essays read more like research reports, which we expect to be impartial accounts supported by systematically collected and analyzed data. Which is not really the case here.

That said, the essays offer useful insights, as well as memorable one-liners - such as "smart data structures and dumb code works a lot better than the other way around" or “every good work of software starts by scratching a developer's personal itch” - which are a delight to read for any programmer. ( )
  lotw | Jan 19, 2014 |
Interesting mind set for surrounding global commitment over any Corporate folks vs. huge Community - This is for sure a kind of new 'Business Model' to learn !

Thursday, Dec 16 2010 ( )
  Fouad_Bendris | Dec 25, 2012 |
An internal hacker's history of the rise of open source software and Linux, presented as a series of essays. At times prophetic, at other times quite dated. Only made it through half of the essays before losing it while traveling in Finland (i.e., releasing it open source). ( )
  albertgoldfain | Oct 9, 2010 |
A brief but succinct overview of the two different models era 2000 ( )
  tony_landis | Jun 6, 2010 |
The first section, or paper, is excellent - with many accurate observations and thought provoking insights.The rest of the book descends into management navel gazing, which is a shame. ( )
  jonbeckett | Mar 31, 2010 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0596001088, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:20 -0400)

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Argues that the development of Linux by thousands of programmers, in a coordinated effort without centralized management signals unprecedented power shifts in the computer industry.

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