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First Monday: Linux: A Bazaar at the Edge of Chaos

[ Thanks to Nik
Shafiruddin
for this link. ]

Author Ko Kuwabara writes:

“This paper establishes a context for the work of Eric Raymond
and his description of the Linux phenomenon, by examining the
emerging science of complex adaptive systems pioneered by John
Holland, Christopher Langton, Robert Axelrod, among others.
Raymond’s evolutionary view is given an extended and more formal
treatment under the terms of chaos and complexity, and chaos and
complexity under the terms of sociology. In addition, this paper
presents an ethnographic account of Linux, amassed from a series of
electronic mail interviews with kernel developers. These interviews
examine Linux as a social phenomena, which has prompted wide
interest and become a subject of heated discussion…”

(With Comments and Feedback by Eric S. Raymond and Michael
Elizabeth Chastain. — lt ed.)

“To be sure, Linux is neither the first nor the only
“open-source” software… Linux nonetheless deserves a
special place within the history of open-source software for
several reasons. First, its stature as a first-class operating
system finds Linux at the pinnacle of computer system
design…”

“Second, the size of the Linux project is simply
unprecedented in the history of software development. At times,
thousands of programmers have volunteered their time and
effort
in the daily development of numerous components and
functions that comprise the operating system. According to one
estimate, the project has involved over 40,000 people
worldwide.”

“Finally, despite the complexity of the design, the size of the
project, and the rate of development, Torvalds and his
co-developers have successfully–to say the least–ritten an
operating system as powerful as Linux is today. It is said to have
surpassed Microsoft Windows in many aspects of performance,
including reliability…”

Complete
story
.