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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
[when awarded the Linus Torvalds Award]
Richard M. Stallman:
So, very ironic things have happened, but nothing to match this. Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is sort of like giving the Han Solo Award to the rebel fleet.
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My fourteen-year-old boy is very much into computers (that's hardly surprising). This summer he'll be back with the Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth program studying - I don't really know exactly what. It's some kind of computer program, I just sign the check.
He's very much both anti-Microsoft and anti-Bill Gates. He's also quite pro-Linux, the emblem of the "Open Source" movement whose adherents regard its underlying virtues with a devotion normally reserved by the religious for the icons of their faiths.
So he wanted me to see "Revolution OS," a documentary about the Linux operating system and the open source movement that spawned the increasingly important competitor to both Microsoft and Apple.
This is a very interesting documentary which I, clueless as to the secrets of operating systems, readily understood. I watched it with the barest comprehension of Linux or the philosophy underlying the open source concept.
Much credit to the filmmaker for not only explaining the seminal value of open source - the commitment to free interchange of ideas with minimal incorporation of legal protection for intellectual property - but for also succinctly allowing contrasting values and competing personalities screen time. This documentary is a very concise but excellent guide for the uninitiated into a world usually the arcane preserve of specialists most adept at talking to each other.
The Open Source movement is a work in progress threatened by the real risk of those benefiting from openness legally protecting their own "added value" and thus, in a sense, betraying their benefactors. Several of those interviewed pursue their open source values almost as a creed, the commitment to computers taking the place of more traditional dogma.
Anyone interested in a major intellectual counterpoint to the dominance of both Microsoft and the role of law in insuring proprietary benefits for innovators should see "Revolution OS": no manual required.
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