[TOS] a FOSS development textbook?

Greg Dekoenigsberg gdk at redhat.com
Tue May 5 16:14:38 UTC 2009

On Tue, 5 May 2009, tridge at samba.org wrote:

> Hi All,
> Has anyone looked at the possibility of creating a textbook for
> teaching FOSS development? The 'Producing OSS' book by Karl Fogel is
> good, but I didn't find it to be sufficient as a textbook for the ANU
> course. It was a little too focussed on starting a project for what
> Bob and I wanted to do.

Funny you should mention this.  I also have cited Fogel as The Great Hope 
in this space, and professors push back for exactly the reasons you cite.

I love Dave Humphrey's quote, and I paraphrase it every chance I get: the 
real goal for professors is to teach students to be "productively lost" in 
a project, and Fogel's book is all about creating a new project, not 
finding your way into one.

One of the reasons I'm excited by the prospect of open source 
participation being taught in the classroom is precisely because most 
students get *zero* opportunity to get lost in a huge codebase, and don't 
develop those skills -- code analysis, finding the right person, etc. -- 
until they're out in the real world and must sink or swim.

> One possibility is for us to collaborate via a site like 
> http://cnx.org/, which has a reasonable structure for creating a 
> creative commons textbook. It also has the advantage of being linked to 
> a print on demand system, so lecturers can ask the university bookshop 
> to pre-order a sufficient number of cheap hard copies before a course 
> starts (on the assumption that many students will prefer a hard copy).
> Perhaps this has been discussed already?

I think this is a brilliant idea.  Of course, I'm not a professor.  :) 
But it seems like having the One Great Book would be a huge shot in the 


Computer Science professors should be teaching open source.
Help make it happen.   Visit http://teachingopensource.org.

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