Book Review - Producing Open Source Software by Karl Fogel
Seems like everyone wants to have a open source project these days. But it's not as easy to run a successful project as you might think. In order to get started on the right foot and increase your chance of success, I would recommend reading Karl Fogel's Producing Open Source Software - How To Run A Successful Free Software Project.
Contents: Introduction; Getting Started; Technical Infrastructure; Social and Political Infrastructure; Money; Communications; Packaging, Releasing, and Daily Development; Managing Volunteers; Licenses, Copyrights, and Patents; Free Version Control Systems; Free Bug Trackers; Why Should I Care What Color the Bikeshed Is?; Example Instructions for Reporting Bugs; Index
Fogel definitely has the "cred" to write this book. He's spent five years working on the Subversion open source version control system. While not (yet?) the default open source version control system out there, it's rapidly gaining traction. As a result, you figure that Fogel and company must have done a few things right along the way. He does a very nice job in explaining what makes for a successful open source project in terms of tools, structure, and most importantly, culture. He identifies open source projects that have successfully created a culture that encourages participation without dictatorial control. He even addresses how to deal with people issues like monopolizing discussion boards. Those are items that most techies aren't good at, and having a guide like this is priceless.
At times the book seems to be rather dense, as in a lot of text with little to break it up. I think it's because there's no real use of graphics or code samples to a large degree. I wouldn't expect it in a book like this, either. But still, it's just one of those things that came to mind as I was reading it. If you have the same nagging feeling and can quickly identify it, then it's easy to deal with the problem.
Very valuable information, all condensed into a single volume for easy reference. I'd maintain that anyone looking to start an open source project with hopes of long-term viability would do well to read and digest this book before starting. You'll make fewer false starts and raise your chances of success...