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Eric S. Raymond

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Title: Eric S. Raymond  
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Subject: Open Source Initiative, Hacker (term), The Art of Unix Programming, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, The Code (2001 film)
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Eric S. Raymond

Eric S. Raymond
Raymond at Linucon 2004
Born (1957-12-04) December 4, 1957
Boston, Massachusetts
Residence Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Pennsylvania (dropped out)[1]
Occupation Software developer, author
Website //

Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957), often referred to as ESR, is an American software developer, author of the widely cited[2] 1997 essay, and 1999 book The Cathedral and the Bazaar and other works, and open source software advocate. He wrote a guidebook for the Roguelike game NetHack.[3] In the 1990s, he edited and updated the Jargon File, currently in print as the The New Hacker's Dictionary.[4]


Born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA 1957, Raymond lived in Venezuela as a child. His family moved to Pennsylvania, USA in 1971.[5] Raymond said in an interview that his cerebral palsy motivated him to go into computing.[6]

He wrote CML2, a source code configuration system; while originally intended for the Linux operating system, it was rejected by kernel developers.[7] Raymond attributed this rejection to "kernel list politics".[8] Linus Torvalds on the other hand said in a 2007 mailing list post that as a matter of policy, the development team preferred more incremental changes.

In 2000–2002 Raymond wrote a number of HOWTOs still included in the Linux Documentation Project. His personal archive also lists a number of non-technical and very early non-Linux FAQs. His books, The Cathedral and the Bazaar and The Art of Unix Programming, discuss Unix and Linux history and culture, and user tools for programming and other tasks. In 1998 he received and published a Microsoft document expressing worry about the quality of rival open-source software.[9] Eric named this document, together with others subsequently leaked, "the Halloween Documents". Noting that the Jargon File had not been maintained since about 1983, he adopted it in 1990 and currently has a third edition in print. Paul Dourish maintains an archived original version of the Jargon File, because, he says, Raymond's updates "essentially destroyed what held it together."[10]

Raymond is currently the admin of the project page for gpsd, a daemon that makes GPS data from a receiver available in JSON format.[11] Also, some versions of NetHack include his guide.[3] He has also contributed code and content to The Battle for Wesnoth.[12]

Open source

Raymond says he began his programming career with writing proprietary software, between 1980 and 1985.[1] In a 2008 essay he "defended the right of programmers to issue work under proprietary licenses because I think that if a programmer wants to write a program and sell it, it's neither my business nor anyone else's but his customer's what the terms of sale are".[13] In the same essay he also said that the "logic of the system" puts developers into "dysfunctional roles", with bad code the result.

Raymond also coined an aphorism he dubbed "Linus' Law", inspired by Linus Torvalds: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow".[14] It first appeared in his book The Cathedral and the Bazaar.[15]:30

Raymond became a prominent voice in the open source movement and co-founded the Open Source Initiative in 1998, taking on the self-appointed role of ambassador of open source to the press, business and public. The internal white paper by Frank Hecker that led to the release of the Mozilla (then Netscape) source code in 1998 cited The Cathedral and the Bazaar as "independent validation" of ideas proposed by Eric Hahn and Jamie Zawinski.[16] Hahn also described the book as "clearly influential".[17]:190 Raymond has refused to speculate on whether the "bazaar" development model could be applied to works such as books and music, not wanting to "weaken the winning argument for open-sourcing software by tying it to a potential loser".[18]

Raymond has had a number of public disputes with other figures in the free software movement. As head of the Open Source Initiative, he argued that advocates should focus on the potential for better products. The "very seductive" moral and ethical rhetoric of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation fails, he said, "not because his principles are wrong, but because that kind of language ... simply does not persuade anybody".[19] Raymond stepped down as the president of the Open Source Initiative in February 2005.[20]

Political activism

Raymond is a member of the Libertarian Party. He is a gun rights advocate.[21] He has endorsed Defense Distributed and its efforts, calling Defense Distributed "friends of freedom" and writing "I approve of any development that makes it more difficult for governments and criminals to monopolize the use of force. As 3D printers become less expensive and more ubiquitous, this could be a major step in the right direction."[22][23]


  • Hamerly, Jim, Paquin, Tom and Walton, Susan; Freeing the Source: The Story of Mozilla, in Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution, O'Reilly, 1999. 280pp, ISBN 1-56592-582-3
  • Moody, Glyn; Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution, Basic Books 2002, 342pp, ISBN 978-0-7382-0333-1
  • Suarez-Potts, Louis; Interview: Frank Hecker, Community Articles, May 1, 2001,, OpenOffice website
  • Wayner, Peter; Free for All: How LINUX and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High-Tech Titans, HarperCollins, 2000, 340pp, ISBN 0-06-662050-3

By Eric Raymond


Writings posted or archived on his website

  • The Art of Unix Usability, the book about programming and user interface philosophy in UNIX
  • How to Ask Questions the Smart Way, mirrored on personal site
  • Release Early, Release Often, excerpt from The Cathedral and the Bazaar, mirrored on personal site
  • Eric Raymond's FAQ collection, mirrored on his personal site. Includes links to Linux Documentation Project.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Richard Stallman, Free Software, and Copyleft 2011
  22. ^
  23. ^

External links

  • Media related to at Wikimedia Commons
  • Quotations related to Eric S. Raymond at Wikiquote
  • Official website
  • Works by Eric S. Raymond at Project Gutenberg
  • Works by or about Eric S. Raymond at Internet Archive
  • Eric S. Raymond at the Internet Movie Database
  • The Curse of the Gifted, from email exchange with Linus Torvalds (2000)
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