January 9, 2013

Want to understand open source? Live with its developers

Open source beliefs

Let's say you want to understand what makes free and open source software (FOSS) so vital today—and what makes those who write it so committed to their difficult work. How would you do this? You might crack a few books on the cultural history of coding, like Levy's Hackers or Markoff's What the Dormouse Said, both pivotal explorations of the values that seem to guide open source programming (what we might call "the hacker ethic"). You might pore over the seminal tracts that give voice to these values—Raymond's The Cathedral and the Bazaar or Stallman's GNU Manifesto, perhaps. You might even peruse key documents from the projects themselves—maybe the Debian Social Contract or the Fedora Licensing Guidelines.

But do all this and you still won't have a sense of how FOSS is lived—how these software projects sustain themselves every day as dynamic and lively communities guided by a complex and nuanced ethic...Read more at OpenSource.com

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