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|Glyn Moody's Rebel Code: Inside Linux and the Open
Source Revolution book is a history book of sorts, about open source,
Linux, and how it all began. It isn't something a high school history
teacher would assign, but Rebel Code is terrific for someone
interested in the roots of the open source movement and how they planned on
taking on Microsoft and the Wintel-dominated world.
The whole premise of the book is a series of interviews with open source bigots. Walking the reader through the various interviews, Moody presents information from everything like the history of Linus Torvalds name (Linus was named in part after the US scientist Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel prizes) to why the IMG tag was introduced to HTML (someone was going to do it eventually). [For those who don't know Linus Torvalds, he's the father of the Linux operating system.] Overall, the information is interesting, and Moody connects it in easily understood terms through his prose. One doesn't have to be well connected with the open source movement to understand and enjoy the book, though one will enjoy it more if they have a passing interest and experience with some of the efforts.
Open source efforts discussed in the book include everything from the first Linux versions (remember Minix anyone?), to various GNU tools, through the open sourcing of the Netscape browser, and off into Gnome land. For each and every one of them it seems you learn how and why the project began and how it evolved, almost always through quotes direct from the project originator. While many of the quotes are recast through recent interviews, some include remnants of past emails and newsgroups postings. I guess we can thank Deja (and now Google) for being able to pull old Usenet archives back from the dead there, though I wouldn't doubt if the author had these archived on his own.
This book first came out in hardcover in January 2001. The paperback is from June 2002. I mention this primarily because the book's material was developed during 1999 and 2000. There is no gnu material in the paperback. Perhaps it would have been nice to have something more about how things evolved when the Internet bubble burst and as the Microsoft antitrust suit progressed. Overall, a good historical look at the open source revolution. About the only thing missing is a family tree.
John Zukowski, provides strategic Java consulting with JZ Ventures, Inc. through objective commentary on Java-related technologies, mentoring, training and curriculum development, technical editing, and software architecture and development. He received a B.S. in computer science and mathematics from Northeastern University and an M.S. in computer science from Johns Hopkins University.