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Paperback Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project Book

ISBN: 0596007590

ISBN13: 9780596007591

Producing Open Source Software: How to Run a Successful Free Software Project

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Book Overview

The corporate market is now embracing free, "open source" software like never before, as evidenced by the recent success of the technologies underlying LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP). Each is the result of a publicly collaborative process among numerous developers who volunteer their time and energy to create better software. The truth is, however, that the overwhelming majority of free software projects fail. To help you beat the odds, O'Reilly...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A developer's perspective that works for both developers and managers

Karl Fogel has the right credentials for the subject of producing open source software. His technical background and entrepreneurial experience help provide informed insight about the very real trade-offs that every developer must face in order to write the best code, appeal to the most users/customers, keep a project on track, and build enough credibility and capital to be able to do it again better the next time. I would rate this book a *must read* for open source project leaders and product/project managers who have a substantial interest in succeeding with open source software. I would rate this book a *good to read* for developers who want to better understand what their project managers and leaders are trying to manage. One of the best aspects of this book is the fact that it was developed and published by folks who really understand open source software, and who will, when the time is right, issue a revised and updated edition when sufficient constructive feedback/learning experiences have been received. This continuous community relationship is why this book is a *must read* for managers: it is the best of its class, and even if you disagree with some aspect of it, you can hash that out in public and expect your criticism to be dealt with in future editions. If you don't read it, you can't criticize it, and it won't be better for you the next time around.

Required reading for Open Source project leaders

If you have already read pretty much everything that there is to be read about why you'd want to start, manage, fund or participate in an Open Source project, but want to know everything about how best to do it, then Karl Fogel's Producing Open Source Software is the book for you. Drawing from his extensive experience with the Subversion project, Fogel provides in this book a comprehensive overview of all aspects of Open Source software development, covering technical, social, political, economical, legal, and managerial aspects. While the book is more aimed at medium-to-large scale projects, especially those involving some kind of corporate entity, there is much in it that is applicable to most projects, excluding maybe only those little, one-man efforts that rarely become successful. But if you are the originator of one of the latter and, should it suddenly attract a wide following, you'd better be prepared to face the unavoidable problems that popularity brings.This book will come in handy in this case. Here are, in my opinion, the strong points of the book: * Providing a concise, yet comprehensive, overview of all aspects of Open Source development. This is really the manual of open development. * Demonstrating that there is much in open development that is similar to more traditional, corporate-style software development (you cannot always rely on good will and volunteers), but also much that is different, in motivation, rewards and objectives. * Putting the accent on the human aspect of development: mutual respect between participants is often the deciding factor in determining whether a project will thrive or fail. Since even the best of intentions sometimes are not enough to foster a peaceful, productive and collaborative environment, Producing Open Source Software contains a lot of useful, practical advice that you can follow if you want to keep developers happy and motivated.

Tons of insight and practical advice

Didn't expect much useful information. But somehow this guy manages to talk about soft issues such as communication and politics without getting lost in the clouds. The book is more of a field guide than an anthropological study, so instead of speculation about what keeps participants motivated, you'll find practical advice how to keep people motivated and how to deal with specific problems. Should be read not only by people running open source projects, but by anyone who is somehow involved in an open source projects, and perhaps by everyone doing software development, too!

Great for getting off on the right foot...

Seems like everyone wants to have a open source project these days. But it's not as easy to run a successful project as you might think. In order to get started on the right foot and increase your chance of success, I would recommend reading Karl Fogel's Producing Open Source Software - How To Run A Successful Free Software Project. Contents: Introduction; Getting Started; Technical Infrastructure; Social and Political Infrastructure; Money; Communications; Packaging, Releasing, and Daily Development; Managing Volunteers; Licenses, Copyrights, and Patents; Free Version Control Systems; Free Bug Trackers; Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is?; Example Instructions for Reporting Bugs; Index Fogel definitely has the "cred" to write this book. He's spent five years working on the Subversion open source version control system. While not (yet?) the default open source version control system out there, it's rapidly gaining traction. As a result, you figure that Fogel and company must have done a few things right along the way. He does a very nice job in explaining what makes for a successful open source project in terms of tools, structure, and most importantly, culture. He identifies open source projects that have successfully created a culture that encourages participation without dictatorial control. He even addresses how to deal with people issues like monopolizing discussion boards. Those are items that most techies aren't good at, and having a guide like this is priceless. At times the book seems to be rather dense, as in a lot of text with little to break it up. I think it's because there's no real use of graphics or code samples to a large degree. I wouldn't expect it in a book like this, either. But still, it's just one of those things that came to mind as I was reading it. If you have the same nagging feeling and can quickly identify it, then it's easy to deal with the problem. Very valuable information, all condensed into a single volume for easy reference. I'd maintain that anyone looking to start an open source project with hopes of long-term viability would do well to read and digest this book before starting. You'll make fewer false starts and raise your chances of success...

Excellent guide for anyone interested in contributing to or running an open source project

Karl Fogel does a fantastic job of covering everything you need to know about open source projects. It contains everything you need to know about contributing to an open source projects: how to interact with other contributors, working with version control, contributing code, etc. He also provides an excellent guide for running an open source project. The book covers a great deal of ground, giving excellent advice on a wide range of topics: selecting a license; maintaining a mailing list, defect tracking system and version control repository; providing a website; interacting with committers; dealing with technical people; gathering consensus; and understanding important project management concepts. Karl is a veteran of several highly visible and widely used open source projects, and clearly draws on his extensive experiences (both positive and negative). The style is pleasantly conversational, and it's clear that he really knows what he's talking about and is speaking from a position of authority. (Full Disclosure: I was a technical reviewer for this book, and was thoroughly impressed with it while reviewing it.)
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