"The Daemon, The Gnu and the Penguin" is a short history of free and open (the author prefers free :P) software. Its written by 'the unix historian' Peter Salus, who has been around and has been an active part of this history. There are probably not much other people who would be more suitable to write this book than Peter Salus.
The book is quite thin (about 200 pages) and contains quite many chapters (30). The book is not following the history chronologically but neither is it totally random. It dives into one 'track' of the history, then comes back and shows how the different tracks have influenced each other. Each chapter is an essay which can be read independently. The book is feels exceptionally well researched and the author does not shy away from giving his opinion on the topic. Although, the last few chapters of the book were perhaps a little too anti-Microsoft (plus the predictions on Windows 7 can probably be exclaimed wrong).
The chapters are too many to all cover in this review. The book covers a history of unix from the perspective of one of the first Open Source applications and one of the first clashes with lawyers about openness of source code. It covers the different unix clones and especially BSD unix and how it led to vi editor and relates to Sun Microsystems. It side-tracks in Richard Stallman, the creation of Emacs, the founding of FSF and the creation of the Gnu Public License. The book covers how Linux relates to all this and how the different Linux distributions started, how they related and what their influence was on the world of Open Source. It even dives into the, perhaps, failures of Hurd, BSDi, and Plan 9... which not much people know about. The book ends with broadly mapping the current state of Open Source and making predictions about its future.
Reading The Daemon, The Gnu, and The Penguin was fun and enjoyable. It wasn't always easy because a lot of content was covered in a short amount of time, the writing style was terse. Yet, I'd recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Open Source especially as its short, easy to read, and well researched. The rating would be between 4 and 5 stars, but decided to go for 4 because of the sometimes a little too terse writing style. Still, highly recommended!