I am reading the book “Producing Open Source Software (How to Run a Successful Free Software Project)” written by Karl Fogel. It is published under a CreativeCommons Attribution-ShareAlike (3.0) license and you can download from its website producingoss.com.
This book is one of the recommended readings for the course about Project Management at the Master of Free Software that I am attending. I will write a group of posts commenting several chapters of this book, I hope you enjoy the reading.
Chapter 1. Introduction
This chapter introduces the book, that is a practical guide about how to plan and drive a successful free software project. It explains that with open source projects, you have to take into account specific aspects which in closed-source projects is not necessary to handle from the beginning, for example the packaging or documentation. In open source software you want to benefit from the volunteer contributions, so you should build the necessary infrastructure, documentation, and product image, to attract users, developers, translators… and keep them at your side.
There is a section dedicated to explain the history of free software: the role of Richard Stallman leading the movement, the role of others not involved ideologically but producing high quality software and giving them to the community under free licenses too, the Open Source Initiative and the consequent increment of the commercial interest, and the situation today, where you can find people with not (only) ethical or economical but all kind of motivations to participate in a free software project.
The section about Free Software History brings a very nice tour to understand the different motivations of free software actors, and to know that the people interested in free software has been a diverse group from the beginning.
When I read this “Introduction” I felt some kind of sickness: “Free software is more complex that I thought before. It seems that you have to take into account so many things! How can a small group of volunteers of a small company manage with this?”. But later I realised that I’ve had just finished the first chapter, not the whole book. So I continued reading, to trying to find answers to the amount of questions that have come up to my mind.