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In the Beginning

Fully titled "In The Beginning Was The Command Line", this lengthy essay by Neal Stephenson was originally published online and was only later made available in book form. Ostensibly a commentary on why Microsoft's operating systems business is unlikely to remain profitable forever in the face of competition from Linux, it also lucidly analyses the corporate/collective culture of the Microsoft, Macintosh, and free software communities, explores the GUI-as-metaphor in terms of the increasing interposition of metaphors between humans and the actual workings of devices (in a similar manner to Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) and explains the beauty hackers feel in good-quality tools.

Stephenson spends some time discussing Debian and its impressive bug-tracking system in the essay. Debian developers were extremely pleased to find out that an author that many of them enjoy uses and approves of their own work.

The full text is still available at http://www.cryptonomicon.com/beginning

See also : History of operating systems

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