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While Microsoft may be the biggest software company in the world, not every computer user is a fan of their products, or their way of doing business. While Microsoft's Windows became the most widely used operating system for personal computers in the world, many experts took issue with Microsoft's strict policies regarding licensing, ownership, distribution, and alteration of their software. The objections of many high-profile technology experts, most notably Richard Stallman, led to what has become known as "the Open Source Movement," which is centered on the belief that computer software should be free both in the economic and intellectual senses of the word. Eventually, one of Stallman's admirers, Linus Torvalds, created a new operating system called Linux, a freely distributed software which many programmers consider to be markedly superior to Windows. Revolution OS is a documentary that examines the genesis of the Open Source Movement, and explores and explains the technical and ... Written by
Mark Deming, Rovi
A poorly made propaganda film, but definitely entertaining.
An interesting "documentary." If only it were true.
This movie might just as well have been titled "Revenge of the Nerds: Nerds Destroy Microsoft." Don't worry about the intellectual property issue that someone else owns the rights to the names "Revenge of the Nerds" and "Microsoft." Intellectual property obviously isn't very important to people who champion an operating system built by systematically reverse engineering and copying, piece by piece, someone else's operating system.
Except the nerds didn't destroy Microsoft. In the second decade of the 21st century, Microsoft still has a 90% market share and MacOS is its only real competitor. Admittedly, Linux never expressed an interest in market domination, but this movie's tales of Linux's triumph over Windows are greatly overstated.
Two of the great success stories presented in the movie; Cygnus and VA Linux, simply no longer exist as presented. Cygnus was absorbed by Red Hat even before the movie was released, and VA Linux abandoned its business model, becoming an entirely new company with a new value proposition shortly thereafter, when a disastrous crash in its stock price proved its original value proposition was indeed weak as it had originally been described.
The movie presents absolutely no data from "the other side" other than a letter written by Bill Gates in 1976, when he was twenty and Microsoft had not even been incorporated. Moreover, the letter is read by a woman whose voice borders on a rage-induced hysteria accompanied by a disturbing and ominous soundtrack. I wonder how rational Torvalds would sound with a lurid Berlioz soundtrack accompanying a lunatic's recitation.
What is most disturbing/amusing/annoying is the constant insistence by commentators on comparing Linux with Windows NT. Let's see, Microsoft hasn't released a product under that name for more than a decade, so perhaps, if we are to insist on that comparison, we should be examining Windows NT, released in 1993, with Linux 1.0, released in the same year. Now that would be interesting.
In the end, this movie has the tone and sentiment of a poorly made propaganda film, and about as much intellectual honesty. Linus Torvalds actually seems slightly bitter at the success other people have achieved through Linux, and he remains unrepentantly in denial of Linux's origins in the GNU project. Many of the other commentators seemed to focus far too much on establishing their geek cred by claiming to have been doing "X" longer than anyone or having done "Y" first. Eventually, their endless ranting exalting themselves and their ideas became simply tiresome and made them appear more ridiculous than authoritative.
The one person who didn't come across as an embittered deludinoid is Richard Stallman himself. Stallman, despite a widely held public perception to the contrary, seems a rational and sincere advocate for his own ideals, however naïve they may be. It is perhaps ever so slightly disingenuous for Stallman to advocate working for nothing and giving your work away when he has been the recipient of numerous grants, including the MacArthur Grant the sizable so-called "genius" grant from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Nevertheless, this movie made Stallman seem, to me, quite genuine and even likable.
I would call this movie a dramatization, not a documentary. It is definitely entertaining; a delightfully comic, though unintentionally so, look inside the bizarre open source community and their zealous, almost religious devotion to an operating system that, notwithstanding all the declarations of victory to the contrary, has never managed a significant market penetration and, in its prevalent forms, in all likelihood, never will.
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