In Open Sources: voices from the revolution – O’Reilly Publishing recorded the history to date and ethos of the open source community by having the main protagonists write essays on their parts in it. The essays are insightful about the development of the open source phenomena, the technology and the personalities of the protagonists.
There is a noticable comparision between the measured and modest essays of geek elder statesmen like Eric Raymond, Marshall McKusick and Richard Stallman with the precocious, arrogant and irritating style of Linus Torvalds.
The book provides a good primer for non-technical readers on Perl, BSD and UNIX, Linux and the Mozilla browser. The open source community has moved on since the book was first published in 1999. Ubuntu has made Linux usable for the average person, ASUS launched a top-selling sub-notebook powered by Linux and Wal-Mart has sold a Linux PC and recently dropped it.
The reasons given for the apparent Linux being dropped from Wal-Mart’s shelves vary from increased support requirements to a lack of an Open Source eco-system to make applications used by non-geeks like Intuit’s personal finance and taxation applications, but that’s another post in of itself.