HFOSS: What Is Open Source and How Does It Work?

For HFOSS, I had to read a chapter (3) of Steve Weber’s The Success of Open Source. It gives a nice shortened history of the creation of Linux as an anecdote for how open source software projects grow. The chapter talks about how OSS projects are structured, the upsides and downsides of letting a community govern a large project, and who participates in the projects (hint: it’s not just the developers, you also have everyone who uses the software). Some studies are shown that try to dissect what kind of people contributed to the Linux project (by country, by what email they use, etc). The chapter goes on to explain the goals of OSS and how the projects are run: Don’t reinvent the wheel (share what you made so others can benefit), create opportunities for developers to participate in projects, and to develop solutions to problems by distributing the work.

I’d say that this chapter gives a good overview of how OSS is created and why it exists, though I would say that the chapter is a bit outdated (it mentions SourceForge as a collaboration site that is commonly used, but nowadays SF is the last place you would want to host a project). I’d recommend reading over the chapter if you don’t have much knowledge about open source software, but at the same time if you already actively participate in OSS communities there is probably not much within the chapter that you don’t already know.

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