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Free For All: How Linux and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High-tech Titans [Book Review]

Oct 14, 2000, 14:52 (1 Talkback[s])

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Wayner's book is very good indeed. It's partly a history of the free software movement, but its main focus is an analysis of why Linux took off and its probable future roadmap. It's much better both in scope and argument than some previous efforts covering a similar area such as Under The Hood.

Wayner's idea is beautifully simple: he links developments in code to a wider context. He argues that the way to understand the early success of open source code and to assess its possible futures is to trace the way in which society, the economy and individuals are shifting and changing. With an understanding of these relationships we can then look at how they influence the evolution of the software industry.

Wayner paints a very complex picture. It's much richer and more far-reaching than the simplistic views of the economist Richard McKenzie, whose forthcoming book on the recent Microsoft trial is undermined by the author's lack of specialist knowledge. Wayner's informed analysis by comparison is far more compelling. Free For All is an excellent book on the why of Linux rather than the how.

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