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Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution

3.84  ·  Rating Details ·  335 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
The open source saga has many fascinating chapters. It is partly the story of Linus Torvalds, the master hacker who would become chief architect of the Linux operating system. It is also the story of thousands of devoted programmers around the world who spontaneously worked in tandem to complete the race to shape Linux into the ultimate killer app. Rebel Code traces the re ...more
Paperback, 344 pages
Published July 11th 2002 by Basic Books (first published December 31st 2000)
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Apr 12, 2010 Joey added it
I can't give this a star rating. It began excellently, and ended in irrelevant trivia, and farce.

I read this book very much from a personal historical perspective, since I lived the history it recounts and know many of the people in it, either personally or by reputation. (I also happened to be frequently corresponding with one of the people most quoted in it, for unrelated reasons, as I read it.)

So, really I enjoyed the first 100 or so pages of the book, which covered years before I got very in
Jul 20, 2010 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, hospital
Reading this made me wish I'd learned to code. I found this book on a rubbish pile on the way to the station one day and thought it might be interesting to learn more about the way Linux developed. It covers a lot about the model Linux uses to grow and touches on the open software movement as well, and the challenges it offers to big business. However, by the end of the book, it feels like it has run out of steam - the last few chapters seem a little disconnected with the narrative of the book a ...more
Premal Vora
Sep 09, 2011 Premal Vora rated it it was amazing
Excellent description of the beginnings of the open-source revolution in software. Describes the beginning of Linux, where the BSDs came from, who Richard Stallman is and why he thinks the way he does. Gave me a bird-eye view of the open-source landscape while at the same time it zoomed into some of the interesting areas. Very lively and unbiased. I loved this book. I'm writing more apps in open-source languages and using FreeBSD and Linux whenever possible.
Doran Barton
May 21, 2013 Doran Barton rated it it was amazing
I purchased Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution because I was giving a presentation at a local technical conference on the history of open source software. I chose to present this topic because I realized many up-and-coming technical workers and enthusiasts either weren't alive when many milestone events occurred or weren't cognizant of them or their significance.

This book far exceeded my expectations. I was an early adopter of Linux and open source software in the early 1990s, so
Amar Pai
Dec 18, 2010 Amar Pai rated it it was ok
Eh. It started off kinda interesting (who isn't inspired by the story of Linux?) but I got bored. Half the book is history of linux distros, and I don't really care about the arcane details of Mandrake vs Red Hat or whatever. The chapters on Mozilla and emacs are by-the-numbers, and I was disappointed by the book's superficial take on open source philosophy & issues. Also, since it came out in 1991, it feels frustratingly dated. e.g. the discussion of Apple's response to the "linux threat" i ...more
Jun 30, 2015 Alexander rated it it was amazing
Linus Torvalds has always been a bit of a polarizing character, for those in the open source community. Some, like myself, are fans and think that he is not only a brilliant software engineer and enigmatic leader, but also a great storyteller and creative mind. Others think he is a buffoon with too much control over the open source movement, much too opinionated and stubborn to be a leader, and to top it off, not a great coder either.

This book delves into his life from childhood to modern day (
Andrew Updegrove
Mar 02, 2014 Andrew Updegrove rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in the history of technology
Recommended to Andrew by: I discovered it on my own
When you live through history, it's easy to assume that someone else will take the time to record, analyze and present what happened so that there is a reliable account available for the future. That's sure to happen when you're speaking of affairs of state, but it becomes less so as you move out through the concentric rings of existence from the diplomatic bullseye.

The emergence of the open source business model and community ethos (related but not at all the same thing) has already had a profo
Apr 30, 2011 Shinynickel marked it as to-read
Includes disc of origin of copyleft system with gnu general public license.
Muhammad Moneib
Jan 05, 2014 Muhammad Moneib rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social, biography, tech
An Extensive History of Freedom Fighting in Cyberspace

The fight for freedom is one of the most discussed subjects in arts and literature. The glorification of the deeds of freedom fighters and the refinement of their personalities to fit in the heroic molds manufactured through public perception is not something strange to historians, as well as to artists and writers. Most of what we know about our historic heroes is sufficient to give them god-like traits and gain them a cult following, guaran
Apr 14, 2013 Marko rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
A pretty good history of the open source software movement although focus is on the 90's. The book is outdated by now and has some stuff that is a bit funny with the aid of hindsight. Companies long dead are lauded and technologies that never quite got off are the next big thing. Neverthless, I learned quite a few new things even though I have been following OSS movement and Linux from their infancy (just as a sidenote, OSS was coined in the late 90's, before that it was called Free Software).

Aug 12, 2014 Brian rated it liked it
Shelves: computers
Great read about the beginnings of Linux and other open source projects. The first few chapters on Linux specifically were fascinating, and very encouraging to see how just a few people can start a project so large.

The middle and end of the book dragged on a bit long. Unfortunately, the book becomes difficult to follow after the first few chapters, as many new projects and individuals are introduced. The segues are brief and forced, and often connect topics with no relation at all leaving the re
Magda Głażewska
Dec 22, 2015 Magda Głażewska rated it it was amazing
Truly inspiring. I had no idea about programming before reading this (still haven't) but, interestingly, lots of unfamiliar terminology didn't make it difficult to understand. The story behing development of Linux and the open-source revolution is absolutely captivating and bound to make you want to learn how to code (or at least try and install Linux on your PC).
Aug 01, 2014 Pteridium rated it liked it
Shelves: lis, tech, academia
Written 14 years ago and I knew most of the info already. It didn't keep me interested as well as most other tech history books I have read.
S.M. Johnson
Jun 15, 2014 S.M. Johnson rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I'm torn on how to rate this book. On the one hand, it was a very comprehensive and well-written read about the origins of many popular open source projects such as Linux, Mozilla, GIMP, GNU, and so forth. On the other hand I feel that it was possibly too comprehensive - the book is very long, and unless you are already acquainted with Linux and open source I feel that there aren't many people out there who will be interested in all the nitty gritty details of, say, gtk or X Window System.

That s
Oct 09, 2014 Derek rated it it was amazing
Well worth a read for anyone interested in technology
May 19, 2012 Mosborne01 rated it really liked it
It really needs an update given it was written in 2001, but this is really the definitive story of Linus Torvalds and the kernel that set the free software up for the dominance it currently enjoys. It's thorough: I learnt more about coding than I thought possible, and his Moody recounts, almost line by line, significant newsgroup posts from Torvalds and his key collaborators, but if you're at all interested in free software or linux, this is good read.
Jan 20, 2013 Francis rated it really liked it
Very nice. I had been putting it off for a while but its very instructive of the early years of the open source movement. I'd love to put my hands on an up-to-date version - this second edition was published in 2002 and it seemed like Linux would "take over" - though 10 years later Mac OSX has taken a party, but MS remains king in the OS world...
Jun 28, 2014 Megaman rated it really liked it
A must read for anyone who is curious about Hacker Culture. Although it is pretty biased (I.E. The Big Bag Microsoft vs The Great and Good Linux), it does a good job explaining the origins of the FOSS and OSS movements. Even though it's pretty dated now, any technology enthusiast should read it.
Jeffrey Hendricks
Apr 04, 2012 Jeffrey Hendricks rated it liked it
Not too bad of a read, though it is mostly historical. The few personal stories it shares are few and far between. As others have noted, the latter half of the book isn't nearly as interesting as the first half.
Mar 19, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
Interesting book about the evolution of free and open-source software. It explains the hard work, strategy, and luck which made Linux the amazing OS it is today.
Nathan Campos
Aug 07, 2012 Nathan Campos rated it it was amazing
Very interesting book. Describes in detail the history of the open source movement until 2002. Really a must-read for all developers and geeks.
Karthikeyan Ramaswamy
Reading about the history of open source is really good but i feel like the book is outdated. May be Rebel code 2.0 is needed?
Dec 06, 2008 Zack rated it it was ok
Ok I didn't totally read it. I couldn't get into it. But I got the movie that was based on this and really liked that.
Caroline Gordon
Entertaining and interesting account of the history of open source software development and the people that drove it.
Nov 19, 2012 Cody rated it really liked it
Lingo can be tough to follow at times for lay people, but an exciting read on the history of open source.
Nov 03, 2012 tonyskapunk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great reference of GNU/Linux's history
Vinod Kurup
Mar 13, 2011 Vinod Kurup marked it as to-read
Recommended by @cgoldberg
Mathew Brown
Mathew Brown marked it as to-read
Oct 20, 2016
Jøê Grèéñ
Jøê Grèéñ marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2016
Michael Bernstein
Michael Bernstein rated it it was amazing
Oct 13, 2016
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