A feature-length documentary by JTS Moore, premiered at the South by Southwest 2001 film festival in Austin, TX on March 12th, 2001. Revolution OS chronicles the birth of the open source and free software movements and ultimately the rise of Linux.

The film opens with a quote from Eric S. Raymond, about a run-in he had with the VP of consumer productsof Microsoft at Agenda 2000 wherein the VP asked Eric, "What do you do?". Eric gives him the thousand yard stare and replies, "I'm your worst nightmare."

It is in this tone of subversion that the documentary follows the history of this underground movement. A brief introduction answers the question for the non-technically oriented in the audience, "What is Linux, exactly?" From there, the film follows the timeline of Linux and open source from the inception of GNU by Richard Stallman to Linus' keynote at the first Linux Expo. No details were spared, as the film includes the description of the meaning behind the recursive acronym that is GNU, a synopsis of The Cathedral and The Bazaar given by Bruce Perens, the rise of VA Linux, and even the origins and the correct pronunciation of the word "Linux" as given by Mr. Torvalds himself.


I was fortunate enough to see this during its world premiere, surrounded by notable figures in the open source movement. Most of the audience had already heard this tale: we were the ones who lived it. I remembered where I was when I found out about some of the key events of the last few years. I could only smile when, during the course of the film visually marking the years that events took place with both a date and a Linux kernel version, I saw the version number of the first kernel I ever used displayed prominently on the silver screen.

I had a feeling, however, that this film connected with the non-technically inclined audience members in that it clearly portrayed the fervor with which the people who make this movement possible spend hour after hour sitting indoors, hunched over a keyboard doing work for no compensation other than the satisfaction that somebody else out there is appreciative of their efforts.

This film is for those of you who have enjoyed Pirates of Silicon Valley or Triumph of the Nerds.



A footnote: The film is scheduled to show again this Wednesday, March 14th, at the Alamo Drafthouse at 4:45pm and on Thursday, March 15th at the Austin Convention Center at 7:30pm.

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