Thursday, April 3, 2008

Two Online Documentaries

I ran across two documentaries today about Linux, GNU, and open source software. Taken together, they clarify and explain a lot of the philosophy and history behind free and open source software and are worth a look.

The first one is called The Code: Linux, which is a Finnish television production featuring many interviews with Linus Torvalds, Eric S. Raymond, Richard M. Stallman and other Linux/GNU/Free/open source figures. Most of the video is in English, but the subtitles are not, so when other languages are spoken, they are untranslated. This one is about an hour long, and would serve as a good, accessible introduction to Linux and the ideas and ideals behind free and open source software.

For a much more complete history, the film Revolution OS might be the better choice. Aside from being an American film, and fully in English, it feels like a documentary film rather than a TV production (as would be expected). It interviews many of the same players, but it delves a little more deeply into each topic, fully explicating the history, philosophy, and ideologies at play in the Free Software movement, Linux, and the Open Source Initiative. And though on first glance it seems like they're all talking about the same thing in shades of gray (as far as "free" vs. "open source" goes), once you understand the difference, you can understand the political divisions between, say, Richard Stallman and Eric Raymond, and why they matter.

I'm really glad I've been looking a little more deeply into this, and I'll have more to say about these issues in later posts, I'm sure.

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