On Free & Open Culture; Some Resources

Note: This is for the Student Planet.
Please read this on the blog.

At the dawn of computing …

Last night, over at DGPLUG, Kushal gave quite a heart rousing talk on the history of Free Software, covering quite a bit about Richard Stallman and the events leading up to him (RMS, not Kushal) launching GNU & the FSF.

If you’re interested in reading more about that sort of thing, here’s a few more books & resources.

Free as in Freedom

The seminal book is of course, Free as in Freedom, on RMS’ life and the massive base he built, upon which we all stand today.
Reading this made me realise what a debt we owe to him.
So the next time we hear about how old & weird Stallman is, maybe we could cut him some slack.

The Groklaw Archives

Did you know, that the SCO Group once brought a case against IBM, suing them for using Linux?
It was a large, long drawn out affair, [1] drawing old heavyweights such as Novell and new upcoming ones like Red Hat, into the fray.
If SCO had won, it would have been the end, of the just barely decade old Linux and our landscape would not have been as rich as it is today.

We know all this, because of the daring and intrepid, Pamela (PJ) Jones, who started up one of the earliest blogs on the internet.
It was called Groklaw, and it was …

a place where lawyers and geeks could explain things to each other and work together, so they'd understand each other's work better[1:1]

It brought awareness of the case to a wide swathe of people and Linux into the mainstream.
The bar on the left of the site, gives you access to a whole lot of cases threatening Linux, and the news and views of the people in the know

A Quarter Century of Unix

A short, really influential book on Unix History by Peter Salus.
I don’t quite know how you can lay hands on a copy, but if you do, it’s fascinating.
Nearly every article, every blog post, every book that needs something on the history of Unix, pulls a quote from this one.

The Daemon, the GNU & the Penguin

Salus’ follow up book, following Unix History on to Linux, is available to read on the Groklaw website.
You can think of it as an expanded version of Kushal’s talk last night.

Open Sources

Want to hear from the people involved in the free software movement?
From the horse’s mouths themselves?
Open Sources is a collection of essays from the folks who were there.
Marshall McKusick, author of the BSD filesystem narrates how BSD went on to be free from AT&T ownership and Free as in Freedom.
RMS tells us about GNU himself.
Bob Young, founder of Red Hat, expounds on how the company set itself on the path to becoming a business on the back of free software.
Linus, tells us of the edge, Linux had, to become successful.

Producing OSS

Karl Fogel’s book, on why we write free / open source software and how to pitch it in your organisation

This is all that comes to mind, right now.
If you know more, let me know or write about and I’ll update the page or link to yours.


In the Beginning was the Command Line

Neal Stephenson’s essay on why Free Software would eventually win. (chock-full of history and analogy)
It’s dated and hasn’t quite panned out as he wished, but is still a fun read!

  1. from the FSF article at http://www.fsf.org/news/2007_free_software_awards ↩︎ ↩︎