Cathedral or bazaar?

In the open source world, there are many ways in which people can work. Eric Steven Raymond wrote a very good essay on the topic called The Cathedral and the Bazaar. The author talks about the way he has experienced the different ways of managing a project, which he calls the Cathedral and the Bazaar.

The Cathedral style is when most of the work is done by few people. Frequently involves complex projects where only some select individuals fully understand the code, so they are the only ones to contribute to its development. Users find themselves in a situation where they have to rely on these people because they aren’t allowed or capable of helping.

The Bazaar style is where everyone is encouraged to contribute and a community is formed around a project that is responsible for fixing and adding features. Releases tend to be much more common since a big number of people are committing changes all the time.

Eric talks about how he believed the Cathedral style to be necessary for some projects, especially complex ones. His perspective changed after a project became very successful by using the Bazaar style. That was Linux.

An operating system kernel is a very important piece of software and is usually very complex. Apart from complexity, a kernel is very big. For Eric, these signs pointed to a Cathedral style, but Linux became even bigger thanks to its bazaar approach.

A big part of Linux’s success is thanks to its relationship with developers. Linux has a kind of reward system where good contributors area admired.

Size is also a important since Linux really benefits from the great amount of developers. I find it astonishing that thousands of people are working on a single software project, and are still able to achieve things

. When done right, the Bazaar style has many benefits that are simply not possible on a Cathedral,