Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary film that traces the twenty-year history of GNU, Linux, open source, and the free software movement.
Directed by J. T. S. Moore, the film features interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneursincluding Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond,Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.
The film begins with glimpses of Raymond, a Linux IPO, Torvalds, the idea of Open Source, Perens, Stallman, then sets the historical stage in the early days of hackers and computer hobbyists when code was shared freely. It discusses how change came in 1978 as Bill Gates, in his Open Letter to Hobbyists, pointedly prodded hobbyists to pay up. Stallman relates his struggles with proprietary software vendors at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, leading to his departure to focus on the development of free software, and the GNU project.
Torvalds describes the development of the Linux kernel, the GNU/Linux naming controversy, Linux’s further evolution, and its commercialization.
Raymond and Stallman clarify the philosophy of free software versus communism and capitalism, as well as the development stages of Linux.
Michael Tiemann discusses meeting Stallman in 1987, getting an early version of Stallman’s GCC, and founding Cygnus Solutions.
Larry Augustin describes combining GNU software with a normal PC to create a Unix-like workstationat one third the price and twice the power of a Sun workstation. He relates his early dealings with venture capitalists, the eventual capitalization and commodification of Linux for his own company, VA Linux, and its IPO.
Brian Behlendorf, one of the original developers of the Apache HTTP Server, explains that he started to exchange patches for the NCSA web server daemon with other developers, which led to the release of “a patchy” webserver, dubbed Apache.
Frank Hecker of Netscape discusses the events leading up to Netscape’s executives releasing the source code for Netscape’s browser, one of the signal events which made open source a force to be reckoned with by business executives, the mainstream media, and the public at large. This point was validated further after the film’s release as the Netscape source code eventually became the Firefox web browser, reclaiming a large percentage of market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.
The film also documents the scope of the first full-scale LinuxWorld Summit conference, with appearances by Linus Torvalds and Larry Augustin on the keynote stage.
Much of the footage for the film was shot in Silicon Valley.