Revolution OS

Revolution OS

2001, Technology  -   32 Comments
Ratings: 8.49/10 from 51 users.

Revolution OSRevolution OS is a documentary which traces the history of GNU, Linux, and the open source and free software movements. It features several interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs (and hackers-cum-entrepreneurs), including Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.

The film begins in medias res with an IPO, and then sets the historical stage by showing the beginnings of software development back in the day when software was shared on paper tape for the price of the paper itself. It then segues to Bill Gates's Open Letter to Hobbyists in which he asks Computer Hobbyists to not share, but to buy software. (This letter was written by Gates when Microsoft was still based in Arizona and spelled "Micro-Soft".)

Richard Stallman then explains how and why he left the MIT Lab for Artificial Intelligence in order to devote his life to the development of free software, as well as how he started with the GNU project. Linus Torvalds is interviewed on his development of the Linux kernel as well as on the GNU/Linux naming controversy and Linux's further evolution, including its commercialization. Richard Stallman remarks on some of the ideological aspects of open source vis-รก-vis Communism and capitalism and well as on several aspects of the development of GNU/Linux.

Michael Tiemann (interviewed in a desert) tells how he met Stallman and got an early version of Stallman's GCC and founded Cygnus Solutions. Larry Augustin tells how he combined the resulting GNU software and a normal PC to create a UNIX-like Workstation which cost one third the price of a workstation by Sun Microsystems even though it was three times as powerful.

His narrative includes his early dealings with venture capitalists, the eventual capitalization and commodification of Linux for his own company, VA Linux, and ends with its IPO. Frank Hecker of Netscape tells how Netscape executives released 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.

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4 years ago

SpaceX uses linux on the space stuffs like rockets and probably also Starlink

7 years ago

Does anyone know why VA Linux share price dropped so drastically? Mind blowing...

7 years ago

I enjoyed learning about the birth of this fine OS. I would love to see a follow-up documentary about what's happened with Linux since 2001 or so - start by talking about the spread of various desktop distros and how they matured (i.e., Linux didn't just stay on the server, etc.), talk about the explosion of Android, the beginnings and popularity of Ubuntu and how major PC makers started pre-installing it on some of their machines (e.g., Dell), Chrome netbooks, plus the use of Linux in much more than traditional computers or even smartphones & tablets - cars, washing machines, TV's, you-name-it. Then end it with the beginnings of the upcoming gaming revolution with Steam. That would be a cool documentary.

8 years ago

Systemd has changed everything. I have been using Linux at home, and professionally, for 17 years. Linux used to be great, now it sucks.

10 years ago


George Zenios
11 years ago

great film. i switched from windows to ubuntu 3 years ago and after a bit of teeth pulling never looked back. nice to know the history. we then switched our whole company servers desktops the lot over to linux.
some comments:
at first it doesnt grip you, but if you stay with linux, you realise how bad windows is. its fast and stays fast, and since i switched ive never had to buy a single program or upgrade my hardware. if youve got a laptop and you think you need to upgrade because its getting slow, wipe off windows and stick ubuntu or some other linux with a desktop gui, it will last you another five years and run faster than when new.

btw brilliant site i hope your making money

Lou Clifton
12 years ago

Try Linux Mint. It's probably the best Linux OS for people who are used to Windows (Like me). You can try it without installing it by running it off of the CD! Nothing to lose, and a free OS that is better than Windows to gain. ;-)

12 years ago

Once again, thankyou vlatko for another very interesting doc! I just love this site!

12 years ago

Richard Stallman sounds like Richard Dawkins when he speaks right!!

12 years ago

People should write and release their software as free ONLY WHEN they (themselves) get what they wanted from that software. If they wrote for hobby, or for pleasing people: then forget about it! -If you wrote for people: you'll think about money, but if the software is part of a greater project: you will feel good by sharing it.

12 years ago

This is a very interesting program on Linux and Open Source. What kills me is that I lived right around the block from these guys at La Mesa Terrace (California and Foothill Expressway) and had no idea what was going on. I was just too busy and involved working on my database projects at the time. I love all the video clips from Mountain View, Palo Alto, Stanford and so forth.

Now back in Ottawa Canada I am working on a fun project that I hope will generate significant revenues for the technology companies back in Silicon Valley and hopefully these guys as well.

The concept to is based on sharing and collaboration and so the whole concept of sharing and collaboration must run deep within the high technology community. I was an avid software developer for 18 years.

For those of you into computer technology, Silicon Valley is a very fun place to visit and explore. And the weather is always beautiful and sunny from mid April to the beginning of November.

12 years ago

I'm a Windows user, but I can appreciate Linux's general philosophy. I see both sides of the argument; the open source and the intellectual property crowds both have their points. While watching this video, I downloaded Ubuntu and I'll tinker with it to see if I can get it to function as a replacement OS on my aging laptop!

12 years ago

Amazing documentary about the histories of both Linux and the GNU project. I have watched this one over and over again because it is such a well made and well researched history into OpenSource and FreeSoftware.

As @ReligionIsntAllBad said before, anyone who is a programmer today owes it to themselves to learn the history of GNU/FSF. Stallman, although somewhat eccentric at times, is an amazing person and a computational genius. He also will take the time to respond to e-mails from anyone, I wrote once asking where to get a good base in computer science and received a reply within 48 hours. I truly hope I have the chance to meet him in my lifetime.

12 years ago

Why if Linux is free, we have no choice only to buy PC with Windows? Maybe it is any secret cooperation to try out which method works better.

12 years ago

Of all the documentaries I've watched, I've only ever dug a handful of them. This is one!

12 years ago

Anyone who knows absolutely anything about software engineering knows who Stallman is, and owes a great debt to GNU. My entire day almost every day depends on GNU tools for compilation and debugging of applications. Linux would be impossible without gcc (GNU C Compiler)... which is why you often see it referred to as GNU/Linux. It is pretty sad to see Richards wounded ego in regards to Linux being named after Linus. That is what happens when you set about writing the most amazing kernel ever created instead of a simple working ripoff of Unix - available ASAP for community improvement. Stallman was great but he wasnt perfect and thanks to Linus things developed at a MUCH more rapid pace than they would have waiting around and pulling their hair out debugging Hurd.

I think there are a few amazing things about free software and its related communities that really strike observers. It is proof of the power of altruism. As well, it demonstrates the strength of community and peer review.

Big props to these powerhouses of engineering that crafted everything I use on a daily basis :) Kudos as well to the brilliant minds that presented these new ideas about software engineering to leaders of industry ... I mean we are talking about people who basically pitched forms of altruism as business strategy. It is mind boggling :) A unix machine in your living room is not something anyone would have imagined a few decades ago ... but these people made it happen.

*opens GDB and goes to work*

Josh Allred
13 years ago

who is this vlatko

13 years ago

Thanks for the nice comments.

You should read the feedback on Netflix for REVOLUTION OS. There are some real haters over there.

13 years ago

Thanks man, I like these docs on this site.

13 years ago

Loved this documentry... never really got to grips with linux but this film makes me want to reinstall...

13 years ago

extremely interesting, thanks for posting it Vlatko

13 years ago

A must see for computer folk.

13 years ago

I like the way the doc was produced. The backround music, amusing and the interviews, well done. Fascinating snapshot of the legacy of open source.

13 years ago

I like this man Stallman he is genius
and this idea about open source

but I have aquestion for u
Iam from Egypt and i want to translate this videos into arabic and put them in my blog.
but i want the english translation file.
Do u know where can i get it?

13 years ago

That intro is just pure gold man!

13 years ago

I find this is my favorite movie. Theres something about Richard Stallman and Linus Torvalds attitudes towards computers and hacking that inspires me.

13 years ago

VA System Linux share traded for $299 at IPO and is worth $1.30 today.

13 years ago

I installed lunix on my PC but didnt really take to it, yet all my servers run on ubuntu lol

13 years ago

Great documentary, I also have been using linux for several years and have had little trouble with it. Over the years I have installed linux on friends machines and they are amazed at just how fast it runs on old hardware. The best thing imo is that it is completely free as in speech, with saying that, I have made donations to several projects that I have deemed worthy.


Achems Razor
13 years ago

Good doc.

Have run Linux systems for about 4 years, great system.
Never have a problem, had nothing but problems with Windows.