Much of the raw material for this book came from five years of working with the Subversion project (http://subversion.tigris.org/). Subversion is an open source version control system, written from scratch, and intended to replace CVS as the de facto version control system of choice in the open source community. The project was started by my employer, CollabNet (http://www.collab.net/), in early 2000, and thank goodness CollabNet understood right from the start how to run it as a truly collaborative, distributed effort. We got a lot of volunteer developer buy-in early on; today there are 50-some developers on the project, of whom only a few are CollabNet employees.
Subversion is in many ways a classic example of an open source project, and I ended up drawing on it more heavily than I originally expected. This was partly a matter of convenience: whenever I needed an example of a particular phenomenon, I could usually call one up from Subversion right off the top of my head. But it was also a matter of verification. Although I am involved in other free software projects to varying degrees, and talk to friends and acquaintances involved in many more, one quickly realizes when writing for print that all assertions need to be fact-checked. I didn't want to make statements about events in other projects based only on what I could read in their public mailing list archives. If someone were to try that with Subversion, I knew, she'd be right about half the time and wrong the other half. So when drawing inspiration or examples from a project with which I didn't have direct experience, I tried to first talk to an informant there, someone I could trust to explain what was really going on.
Subversion has been my job for the last 5 years, but I've been involved in free software for 12. Other projects that influenced this book include:
The GNU Emacs text editor project at the Free Software Foundation, in which I maintain a few small packages.
Concurrent Versions System (CVS), which I worked on intensely in 1994–1995 with Jim Blandy, but have been involved with only intermittently since.
The collection of open source projects known as the Apache Software Foundation, especially the Apache Portable Runtime (APR) and Apache HTTP Server.
OpenOffice.org, the Berkeley Database from Sleepycat, and MySQL Database; I have not been involved with these projects personally, but have observed them and, in some cases, talked to people there.
GNU Debugger (GDB) (likewise).
The Debian Project (likewise).
This is not a complete list, of course. Like most open source programmers, I keep loose tabs on many different projects, just to have a sense of the general state of things. I won't name all of them here, but they are mentioned in the text where appropriate.