Book Review: Producing Open Source Software

17 06 2007

21NEKV6MS8L._AA_SL160_.jpgIf 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, 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.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Getting Started
  3. Technical Infrastructure
  4. Social and Political Infrastructure
  5. Money
  6. Communications
  7. Packaging, Releasing, and Daily Development
  8. Managing Volunteers
  9. Licenses, Copyrights, and Patents
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