Thoughts on Steven Weber’s “The Success of Open Source” (chap 3)

If you’re interested in the part that I’m talking about…

Published 2005

The chapter is called “What is Open Source and How Does it Work?” and that basically describes it. It breaks down the process of open-source development as well as the problem it tries to solve.  Basically, it’s a primer for open-source, explaining its inner-workings in a functional manner.

The Good

  • Focuses on process, not product
  • Points out misconceptions about open-source development
  • Provides modern-ish examples of open-source communities and sites

The Bad

  • Spends a long time mulling over graphs of estimated numbers of Linux users
  • Spends a bit too much time on software-development in general (not open-source specific all the time)
  • Generally a bit too verbose at times

I’m still wondering…

  1. What does a failed open-source project look like and how does it work?
  2. How does a project transition into open-source development?
  3. What do current open-source trends say about where the movement is going?

What I think…

This chapter is pretty well-written. If you’re curious about open-source development, read it now. Seriously, stop reading this review and read the chapter.  It starts chronologically, getting into the history of Linux and continues to reference Torvalds periodically throughout the chapter.  This works well, as he set a fine precedent for open-source developers in both practice and temperament.

After that, Weber starts knocking out topics one-by-one.  He covers the fundamental problem that open-source sets out to solve, and does a good job of providing examples and principles to simplify his explanation.  He can get a bit caught up in explaining software development as a whole, which may bore those already familiar with that.  However, that’s better than not explaining enough.

Another good title would be “The Open Source Process Explained.”  He frequently answers the question of “How does an open-source team deal with/do _____?” which is very helpful no matter what type of software you’re willing to develop.

Overall, this is a great entry point to learning about open-source development.  Read this if you’re curious at all about it.

In short: 5/5 (Awesome)

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One thought on “Thoughts on Steven Weber’s “The Success of Open Source” (chap 3)

  1. decause says:

    Excellent review. I will point to this into the future as an exemplar of things like:

    – being concise
    – following the template
    – using your own voice

    Great work (and not just because you gave it a 5/5 😉 )

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