Free for All

Peter Wayner
FREE FOR ALL ************
BY PETER WAYNER ===============
1. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ------------------
This is just a book about the free software movement. It wouldn't be possible without the
hard work and the dedication of the thousands if not millions of people who like to spend
their free time hacking code. I salute you. Thank you.
Many people spoke to me during the process of assembling this book, and it would be
impossible to cite them all. The list should begin with the millions of people who write
and contribute to the various free software lists. The letters, notes, and postings to these
lists are a wonderful history of the evolution of free software and an invaluable resource.
The list should also include the dozens of journalists at places like,
LinuxWorld, Linux magazine, Linux Weekly News, Kernel Traffic, Salon, and the New
York Times. I should specifically mention the work of Joe Barr, Jeff Bates, Janelle
Brown, Zack Brown, Jonathan Corbet, Elizabeth Coolbaugh, Amy Harmon, Andrew
Leonard, Rob Malda, John Markoff, Mark Nielsen, Nicholas Petreley, Harald Radke, and
Dave Whitinger. They wrote wonderful pieces that will make a great first draft of the
history of the open source movement. Only a few of the pieces are cited directly in the
footnotes, largely for practical reasons. The entire body of websites like Slashdot, Linux
Journal, Linux World, Kernel Notes, or Linux Weekly News should be required reading
for anyone interested in the free software movement.
There are hundreds of folks at Linux trade shows who took the time to show me their
products, T-shirts, or, in one case, cooler filled with beer. Almost everyone I met at the
conferences was happy to speak about their experiences with open source software. They
were all a great source of information, and I don't even know most of their names.
Some people went beyond the call of duty. John Gilmore, Ethan Rasiel, and Caroline
McKeldin each read drafts when the book was quite unfinished. Their comments were
Many friends, acquaintances, and subjects of the book were kind enough to read versions
that were a bit more polished, but far from complete: L. David Baron, Jeff Bates, Brian
Behlendorf, Alan Cox, Robert Dreyer, Theo de Raadt, Telsa Gwynne, Jordan Hubbard,
James Lewis Moss, Kirk McKusick, Sam Ockman, Tim O'Reilly, Sameer Parekh, Bruce
Perens, Eric Raymond, and Richard Stallman.

There are some people who deserve a different kind of thanks. Daniel Greenberg and
James Levine did a great job shaping the conception of the book. When I began, it was
just a few ideas on paper. My editors, David Conti, Laureen Rowland, Devi Pillai, and
Adrian Zackheim, were largely responsible for this transition. Kimberly Monroe suffered
through my mistakes as she took the book through its production stages. They took a
bunch of rambling comments about a social phenomenon and helped turn it into a book.
Finally, I want to thank everyone in my family for everything they've given through all of
my life. And, of course, Caroline, who edited large portions with a slavish devotion to
grammar and style.
Visit for updates, corrections, and additional
2. VERSION INFORMATION ----------------------
FREE FOR ALL. Copyright 2000 by Peter Wayner.
Some Rights Reserved:
This is [a complete version of] the free electronic version of the book originally published
by HarperCollins. The book is still protected by copyright and bound by a license
granting you the limited rights to make complete copies for non-commercial purposes.
You're welcome to read it in electronic form subject to these conditions:
1) You may not make derivative works. You must reproduce the work in its entirety.
2) You may not sell versions.
3) You refer everyone receiving a copy to the website where they may get the latest
corrected version.
A full license developed by the Creative Commons ( will be
forthcoming. Please write [email protected] if you have any questions or suggestions.
See for the FIRST PDF EDITION Page layout for this
and the original paper edition designed by William Ruoto, see Not printed on acid-free
paper. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Wayner, Peter, 1964 Free for
all: how Linux and the free software movement undercut the high-tech titans / Peter
Wayner. p. cm. ISBN 0-06-662050-3 1. Linux. 2. Operating systems (Computers) 3. Free
computer software. I. Title. QA76.76.063 W394 2000 005.4'469 dc21 00-023919 00 01
02 03 04 V/RRD 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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*Free For All* may be purchased at
3. BATTLE ---------

The world where cash was king, greed was good, and money was power fell off its axis
and stopped rotating, if only for a second, in January 1999. Microsoft, the great software
giant and
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