Book review: Open Sources 2.0

Book review: Open Sources 2.0


Few people take the time to truly consider just how free software concepts have affected, and continue to affect, the software industry, developers, corporations, organizations and the entire web community. The book Open Sources 2.0 takes many essays from free software and open source leaders that have shaped free software as a thought process and as an industry, and places them into a single compilation.

The book’s coverThe book’s cover

The contents

This book tips the scale at just over 488 pages with 23 essays from such free software leaders as Mitchell Baker (from Mozilla Corporation), Chris DiBona, Ian Murdock and more.

Well known projects such as Mozilla (in various stages) and Wikipedia are discussed in detail, telling of the trials and glories of free software and the proprietary world’s impact on free software.

Each essay provides large amounts of information on the product and topic at hand; these topics are sectioned into two major categories: one dealing with competition and evolution and the second dealing with collaboration and community.

The full text of the GPL, Sleepycat, BSD and Creative Commons licenses, as well as a few Slashdot articles are also included in the appendices.

Relevance to free software

This book is extremely relevant to free software, and would make a great addition to a free software bookcase

In most of this book, the terms “open source” and “free software” have been used interchangeably. The focus here obviously sits quite squarely on free software, “open concepts” and free software foundations but mentions are made of proprietary software. The differences and similarities of proprietary and free software projects are also discussed.

Dual licensing is discussed by Michael Olson, and “open concepts” outside of software by Pamela Jones. Overall, this book is extremely relevant to free software, and would make a great addition to a free software bookcase.

Who’s this book for?

This book doesn’t have a clear cut audience; however many people will find it useful. That said, this book doesn’t act as a free software/open source “guide”, “tutorial” or “manual”: it provides some of that information on particular projects, but it’s primarily a source of case studies and a collective reports on how far free software has come in terms of corporate and public acceptance.

If you are interested in seeing how other people have used free software methodologies and practices, or how free software is being used in developing nations, this book is for you.

Pros

This is a wonderful collection of thoughts and examples by great minds from the free software movement, and is a must have for anyone who follows free software development and project histories.

The book is well edited in my opinion (excluding the introduction, as I indicate in the next section) and makes a great study guide on how free software organizations and proprietary corporations joined the free software movement, and provides great examples for new and existing organizations, corporations and individual projects.

Cons

The introduction to this paperback felt like a horrific delusion, switching from one scene to another in an exasperating movement of explanations between a brief background and a description of the “Burning Man” event and its community. At first I didn’t catch on and began wondering if something went wrong in the publishing, but I soon realized that it was some sort of split-scene writing, which I personally found a bit annoying.

Title Open Sources 2.0, The Continuing Evolution
Editors Chris DiBona, Mark Stone and Danese Cooper
Publisher O’Reilly
ISBN 0596008023
Year 2005
Pages 488
CD included No
FS Oriented 9
Over all score 8

In short

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Author information

Robin Monks's picture

Biography

Robin Monks is a volunteer contributor to Mozilla, Drupal, GMKing and Free Software Magazine and has been helping free software development for over three years. He currently works as an independent contractor for CivicSpace LLC