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The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Posted Saturday, July 24th 2010 in Linux - Permalink

I actually read a whole book recently with the above title.  The book was by Eric Raymond, writer of several famous open-source programs (such as fetchmail) and proponent of the open source movement.  His book described the benefits, both academical and economic, of opening source in the business world, as well as the advantage of the open source community in quality and quantity of software production.

Simply put, opening source allows many more eyes to see code.  For a given bug or problem, there is someone out there who looks at it and sees the solution.  If your source is closed, you are limited to the skills of your team of developers.  This is why the quality and stability of open source far exceeds closed source competitors

Need I make the connection between Linux and MS Windows?

Linux is a Unix-like operating system, in that is was written to mimic Unix.  Linux has always been open source and developed by hobbyists and enthusiasts since its invention in 1993.

Before that, however, there was the X Window system for Unix, which was a GUI that most users are comfortable operating.  X was implemented in the 80s, several years before MS Windows 3.1 came out, and was technically superior to it and any proceeding Windows system.

MS was always looking to take the market completely.  When they were looking to make the HTTP protocol into a proprietary format in 1996, Netscape released the code for their Netscape Navigator in 1997, which has now been transformed in to the far more stable and popular Mozilla Firefox.  The choice for Netscape to open the code to Navigator was, of course, Eric Raymond’s idea.  And without it, MS could have trademarked the internet, possibly forever controlling the World Wide Web.

The book was a very interesting read, although I think Mr. Raymond was a little too thesaurus-happy.  If you have any interest in computing or open source, I suggest you read through this eye-opener.


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