The Cathedral and the Bazaar

by Wojciech Adam Koszek   ⋅   Apr 7, 2013   ⋅   Menlo Park, CA

Classic for software people.

Nice overview on the open source world and old times of software development.

Linux kernel is said to be the successful project, where the leader lets other people contribute the code, yet he preserves the right to question decisions and manage the development roadmap.

Raymond expresses his sympathy towards “lean” techniques of software development, versus what he calls “cathedral” development style (aka waterfall model, in the software engineering “new talk”).

His fetchmail is used as an example, and together with that, lots of good advices for having successful open-source project are listed.

Raymond gives a pretty good overview of open and closed source project in the commercial world. I think it’s the first book I read where the shrink-wrap software and “internal development tools” were quantified as “use” and “sale” value.

Business models of sale of software which could potentially become open-source are explained. Trying to understand if it makes sense for your product to go Open Source? This book can help you.

What hasn’t been mentioned is that some companies may want to intentionally stay closed-source, since reaching open source quality is often impossible in the corporate world. It takes much more time to perform correct code reviews and fix all possible issues without publishing. Publishing half-baked projects which more or less “present” the company might not be the best idea.

Reaching open source quality requires people with open source experience, which typically means all sorts of competent software geeks, which happen to be good at what they’re doing (read: expensive!). This resource can be missing from the e.g.: shoe company, who just happened to need a custom accounting system and paid a part time CS student to write it.

Prediction on things beyond software worked out. I see new sites of open source fans fundraising, where people fund projects they want to see become alive.

Not my favorite type of reading. If I had a chance to grab a book to my grave just in case, it wouldn’t be this one. Other than that – worth reading.

“Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike”
“How to Delegate”

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About the author: I'm Wojciech Adam Koszek. I like software, business and design. Poland native. In Bay Area since 2010.   More about me