There are hundreds of free resources available online (such as Solutions Review’s buyer’s guides and best practices), and those are helpful when you need a quick reference. But sometimes it’s best to do things the old fashioned way, as few resources can match the depth and comprehensive detail of a well-written book. Solutions Review has done the research for you, having reviewed many of these books. We’ve carefully selected the best open source software books based on relevance, ratings, publish date, and ability to add business value. Each book listed has a minimum rating of 3.5 or better.
You will find a library of texts from recognized leaders, experts, and technology professionals in the field. From the origin of Linux to guides on managing open source software licenses, these publications have something to offer even the most tenured software developer.
“The open source saga has many fascinating chapters. It is partly the story of Linus Torvalds, the master hacker who would become chief architect of the Linux operating system. It is also the story of thousands of devoted programmers around the world who spontaneously worked in tandem to complete the race to shape Linux into the ultimate killer app. Rebel Code traces the remarkable roots of this unplanned revolution. It echoes the twists and turns of Linux’s improbable development, as it grew through an almost biological process of accretion and finally took its place at the heart of a jigsaw puzzle that would become the centerpiece of open source.”
“This book doesn’t assume that you’re a programmer, or even that you have prior experience with free and open source software. Learn what open source is, where it came from, and why it’s important. Start on the right foot by mastering the structure and tools you need before you contribute. Choose the right project for you, amplifying the impact of your contribution. Submit your first contribution, whether it’s code, writing, design, or community organising. Find out what to do when things don’t go the way you expect. Discover how to start your own project and make it friendly and welcoming to contributors.”
“The book tackles this very complex topic by distilling it down into easily understandable parts. Starting with the basics of project management, it details specific tools used in free software projects, including version control, IRC, bug tracking, and Wikis. Author Karl Fogel, known for his work on CVS and Subversion, offers practical advice on how to set up and use a range of tools in combination with open mailing lists and archives. He also provides several chapters on the essentials of recruiting and motivating developers, as well as how to gain much-needed publicity for your project.”
“Architects look at thousands of buildings during their training, and study critiques of those buildings written by masters. In contrast, most software developers only ever get to know a handful of large programs well – usually programs they wrote themselves – and never study the great programs of history. As a result, they repeat one another’s mistakes rather than building on one another’s successes. This book’s goal is to change that. In it, the authors of twenty-five open source applications explain how their software is structured, and why. What are each program’s major components? How do they interact? And what did their builders learn during their development?”
“Much of the innovative programming that powers the Internet, creates operating systems, and produces software is the result of “open source” code, that is, code that is freely distributed–as opposed to being kept secret–by those who write it. Leaving source code open has generated some of the most sophisticated developments in computer technology, including, most notably, Linux and Apache, which pose a significant challenge to Microsoft in the marketplace. As Steven Weber discusses, open source’s success in a highly competitive industry has subverted many assumptions about how businesses are run, and how intellectual products are created and protected.”
“So you’re thinking of creating an open source community around your code? Here are some things you ought to know before you make your plans too firm: Community Types. There is no single “open source community.” Rather, there are many groups of people gathered around many free software commons. Those gatherings are themselves of several different types; you really need to understand those differences. Payment at the Point of Value. Open source is of course free software. But the freedom you’re finding brings you value varies depending on the role you play with respect to the software. “Free” doesn’t mean the same to everyone.”
“If you’ve held back from developing open source or free software projects because you don’t understand the implications of the various licenses, you’re not alone. Many developers believe in releasing their software freely, but have hesitated to do so because they’re concerned about losing control over their software. Licensing issues are complicated, and both the facts and fallacies you hear word-of-mouth can add to the confusion. Understanding Open Source and Free Software Licensing helps you make sense of the different options available to you.”
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