on 11 May 2006
Finally I am half way through this book. I never read the first version but this one is certainly the FOSS world equivalent to War and Peace (which I have never read either).
The series of essays from the who's who of technology leaders in this space will not have you exercising any new found skills. No, it is not a practical book but it does have a way of making you feel more coherently informed. The authors introduction will strike a cord with any software developer. It certainly found empathy with me when it spelt out something I have long had a problem with: "[the] universal practice of .. a hiring agreement..[encompassing]..any and all code and inventions created by the employee..belong to the company".
There is some nice ammunition for analogies. Making a cake and disintermediating technology by Chris DiBona in Chapter two is one we might have thought ourselves but never have put so simply. Jeremy Allisons A Tale of Two Standards for Chapter 3 made me realise how long I have been in this industry. This is a walk from where I started in the late 80's crusading for Open Systems to where I hope I am not ending: with Open Source.
It was not all about beating the drum for open source. Ben Laurie's chapter 4 on Open Source and Security was very sobering and raised some home truths.
I tend to judge how well a book has impressed me by the amount of high light is spread across the pages. Mathew N. Asay's Chapter 7 with a long title was glowing in the dark because I liked it so much and Bruno Souza's Chapter 4 is the best argument for Java open source software I have read.
The second half of the book looks like it might be more academic but, if you read the first half early it will bring you bang up to date with current thinking in the open source world.
In conclusion, if you have the stamina there is a lot to benefit from but if you are looking for something practical from the book it must be in the second half.
Open Sources 2.0 was compiled in 2000, focused on how business models and processes can be built from open source software. There is a very nice section on how businesses can combine open source and proprietary software to provide a complete solution.
What these essays lose in revolutionary zeal they gain in reasoned persuasion. The dialogue is different, the people writing the essays are writing for a much wider audience than the developer audience of the first book. For business decision makers Open Sources 2.0 is invaluable because it provides a great primer in how open source business works without the hype about an army of homebound coders working away for the good of software-kind.