Eric S. Raymond

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 New Hacker's Dictionary.[4]

Eric S. Raymond
Eric S Raymond portrait
Raymond at Linucon 2004
BornDecember 4, 1957 (age 61)
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania (dropped out)[1]
OccupationSoftware developer, author

Early life

Raymond was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1957 and lived in Venezuela as a child. His family moved to Pennsylvania in 1971.[5] He has suffered from cerebral palsy since birth; his weakened physical condition motivated him to go into computing.[6]


Raymond began his programming career writing proprietary software, between 1980 and 1985.[1] In 1990, noting that the Jargon File had not been maintained since about 1983, he adopted it; he 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."[7]

In 1996 Raymond took over development of the open-source email software "popclient", renaming it to Fetchmail.[8] Soon after this experience, in 1997, he wrote the essay "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", detailing his thoughts on open-source software development and why it should be done as openly as possible (i.e., the "bazaar" approach). The essay was based in part on his experience in developing Fetchmail. He first presented his thesis at the annual Linux Kongress on May 27, 1997. He later expanded the essay into a book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, in 1999. 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.[9] Hahn would later describe the 1999 book as "clearly influential".[10]:190

From the late 1990s onward, due in part to the popularity of his essay, Raymond became a prominent voice in the open source movement. He 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. He remains active in OSI, and stepped down as president of the initiative in February 2005.[11] In 1998 Raymond received and published a Microsoft document expressing worry about the quality of rival open-source software.[12] Eric named this document, together with others subsequently leaked, "the Halloween Documents".

In 2000–2002 he created CML2, a source code configuration system; while originally intended for the Linux operating system, it was rejected by kernel developers.[13] Raymond attributed this rejection to "kernel list politics".[14] 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. His 2003 book The Art of Unix Programming discusses user tools for programming and other tasks.

Raymond is currently the administrator of the project page for the GPS data tool gpsd.[15] Also, some versions of NetHack include his guide.[3] He has also contributed code and content to the free software video game The Battle for Wesnoth.[16]

Views on open source

Raymond coined an aphorism he dubbed "Linus's Law", inspired by Linus Torvalds: "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow".[17] It first appeared in his book The Cathedral and the Bazaar.[18]:30

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".[19]

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".[20]

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".[21] In the same essay he also said that the "logic of the system" puts developers into "dysfunctional roles", with bad code the result.

Political beliefs and activism

Raymond is a member of the Libertarian Party. He is a gun rights advocate.[22] He has endorsed the open source firearms organization Defense Distributed, calling them "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."[23][24]

In 2015 Raymond accused the Ada Initiative and other women in tech groups of attempting to entrap male open source leaders and accuse them of rape, saying "Try to avoid even being alone, ever, because there is a chance that a 'women in tech' advocacy group is going to try to collect your scalp."[25][26]

Raymond is also known for claiming that “Gays experimented with unfettered promiscuity in the 1970s and got AIDS as a consequence” and that “Police who react to a random black male behaving suspiciously who might be in the critical age range as though he is an near-imminent lethal threat, are being rational, not racist.”[27][28] Progressive campaign The Great Slate was successful in raising funds for candidates in part by asking for contributions from tech workers in return for not posting similar quotes by Raymond. Matasano Security employee and Great Slate fundraiser Thomas Ptacek said, “I’ve been torturing Twitter with lurid Eric S. Raymond quotes for years. Every time I do, 20 people beg me to stop.” It is estimated that as of March 2018 over $30,000 has been raised in this way.[29]

Personal life

Raymond describes himself as neo-pagan.[6]


  • 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
  • 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
  • Suarez-Potts, Louis; Interview: Frank Hecker, Community Articles, May 1, 2001,, OpenOffice website
  • Moody, Glyn; Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution, Basic Books 2002, 342pp, ISBN 978-0-7382-0333-1

By Eric Raymond


Writings posted or archived on his website

See also


  1. ^ a b Raymond, Eric S. (January 29, 2003). "Resume of Eric Steven Raymond". Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  2. ^ "Citations for "The Cathedral And The Bazaar"". ACM Digital Library. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  3. ^ a b Raymond, Eric S. (December 8, 2003). "A Guide to the Mazes of Menace (Guidebook of Nethack)". Retrieved December 15, 2008.
  4. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (October 11, 1996). The New Hacker's Dictionary. ISBN 0-262-68092-0.
  5. ^ "Man Against the FUD". Archived from the original on October 13, 2007. Retrieved July 7, 2008.
  6. ^ a b Leonard, Andrew (April 1998). "Let my software go!". San Francisco: Salon Media Group. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  7. ^ "The Original Hacker's Dictionary". Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  8. ^ "Fetchmail".
  9. ^ Suarez-Potts, Louis (2001). "Interview: Frank Hecker". Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  10. ^ Moody, Glyn (2002-07-25). Rebel Code: Linux and the Open Source Revolution. Basic Books. ISBN 0-7382-0670-9.
  11. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (January 31, 2005). "Open Source Initiative (OSI) Announces expanded programs, counsel, AND board". Retrieved January 14, 2010.
  12. ^ Harmon, Amy (November 3, 1998). "Internal Memo Shows Microsoft Executives' Concern Over Free Software". The New York Times. Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  13. ^ "CML2, ESR, & The LKML". KernelTrap. February 17, 2002. Archived from the original on August 7, 2007.
  14. ^ McMillan, Rob. "Interview: Eric Raymond goes back to basics". IBM developerWorks.
  15. ^ "GPSD – Summary". Retrieved October 30, 2011.
  16. ^ "People at Gna!: Eric S. Raymond Profile". Archived from the original on March 1, 2017. Retrieved September 13, 2017.
  17. ^ Greenstein, Shane (January 2012). "The Range of Linus' Law". IEEE Micro (Volume 32, Issue 1). IEEE Computer Society.
  18. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (1999). The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary. O'Reilly Media. ISBN 1-56592-724-9.
  19. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (2000). "Afterword: Beyond Software?". Retrieved July 24, 2007.
  20. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (July 28, 1999). "Shut Up And Show Them The Code". Linux Today. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  21. ^ Raymond, Eric S. (October 1, 2008). "Why I Hate Proprietary Software". Retrieved November 5, 2011.
  22. ^ Richard Stallman, Free Software, and Copyleft 2011
  23. ^ Raymond, Eric (August 23, 2012). "Defense Distributed". Armed and Dangerous. Retrieved January 14, 2013.
  24. ^ Kopfstein, Janus (April 12, 2013). "Guns want to be free: what happens when 3D printing and crypto-anarchy collide?". The Verge.
  25. ^ "Linus Torvalds targeted by honeytraps, claims Eric S. Raymond". Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  26. ^ "Is This Crazy Anti-Feminist Rumor the Platonic Ideal of the Men's-Rights Internet?". Select All. Retrieved 2017-11-25.
  27. ^ Raymond, Eric (2002-06-16). "The Elephant in the Bath-House". Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  28. ^ Raymond, Eric (2016-09-24). "Dilemmatizing the NRA". Retrieved 2018-08-27.
  29. ^ Jeong, Sarah (2018-03-08). "Meet the campaign connecting affluent techies with progressive candidates around the country". The Verge. Retrieved 2018-03-08.

Further reading

External links

Academic Free License

The Academic Free License (AFL) is a permissive free software license written in 2002 by Lawrence E. Rosen, a former general counsel of the Open Source Initiative (OSI).

The license grants similar rights to the BSD, MIT, UoI/NCSA and Apache licenses – licenses allowing the software to be made proprietary – but was written to correct perceived problems with those licenses:

The AFL makes clear what software is being licensed by including a statement following the software's copyright notice;

The AFL includes a complete copyright grant to the software;

The AFL contains a complete patent grant to the software;

The AFL makes clear that no trademark rights are granted to the licensor's trademarks;

The AFL warrants that the licensor either owns the copyright or is distributing the software under a license;

The AFL is itself copyrighted, with the right granted to copy and distribute without modification.The Free Software Foundation consider all AFL versions through 3.0 as incompatible with the GNU GPL. though Eric S. Raymond (a co-founder of the OSI) contends that AFL 3.0 is GPL compatible. In late 2002, an OSI working draft considered it a "best practice" license. In mid-2006, however, the OSI's License Proliferation Committee found it "redundant with more popular licenses", specifically version 2 of the Apache Software License.


Fetchmail is an open source software utility for POSIX-compliant operating systems which is used to retrieve e-mail from a remote POP3, IMAP, ETRN or ODMR mail server to the user's local system. It was developed from the popclient program, written by Carl Harris.Its chief significance is perhaps that its author, Eric S. Raymond, used it as a model to discuss his theories of open source software development in a widely read and influential essay on software development methodologies, The Cathedral and the Bazaar.


Freecode, formerly Freshmeat, is a website owned by BIZX, Inc. It is popular source of open source software for programmers and developers. Among other things, the site also hosted user reviews and discussions. A majority of the software covered is open source for Unix-like systems, although Freecode also covered releases of closed-source, commercial and cross-platform software on Mac OS X and handhelds. Freecode was notable for its age, having started in 1997 as the first web-based aggregator of software releases.The site was renamed from "Freshmeat" to "Freecode" on October 29, 2011, and in September 2012, Dice Holdings acquired the website from Geeknet.Purportedly as a result of low traffic levels, the site is no longer being updated as of June 18, 2014. Because many of the linked software projects are otherwise difficult to find, the site contents have been kept online. After Open Source Initiative co-founder Eric S. Raymond called for a replacement, was created and is accepting submissions.On January 27, 2016, Freecode was sold, along with SourceForge and Slashdot, to current owners BIZX, Inc. The site remains in its archived state, but some discussion is on going to restore it.

Halloween documents

The Halloween documents comprise a series of confidential Microsoft memoranda on potential strategies relating to free software, open-source software, and to Linux in particular, and a series of media responses to these memoranda. Both the leaked documents and the responses were published by Eric S. Raymond in 1998.The documents are associated with Halloween because many of them were originally leaked close to October 31 in different years.

Hanlon's razor

Hanlon's razor is an aphorism expressed in various ways, including:

"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."An eponymous law, probably named after a Robert J. Hanlon, it is a philosophical razor which suggests a way of eliminating unlikely explanations for human behavior.

Hiroo Yamagata

Hiroo Yamagata (山形 浩生, Yamagata Hiroo, born March 13, 1964) is a Japanese author, critic, economist, and translator. He translated some important works in computer technology such as "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" by Eric S. Raymond, "Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace" by Lawrence Lessig into Japanese. He is also the founder and chairman of Project Sugita Genpaku, which is a volunteer effort to translate free content texts into Japanese.

See also: Japanese literature, List of Japanese authors

Homesteading the Noosphere

"Homesteading the Noosphere" (abbreviated HtN) is an essay written by Eric S. Raymond about the social workings of open-source software development. It follows his previous piece "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" (1997).

The essay examines issues of project ownership and transfer, as well as investigating possible anthropological roots of the gift culture in open source as contrasted with the exchange culture of closed source software. Raymond also investigates the nature of the spread of open source into the untamed frontier of ideas he terms the noosphere, postulating that projects that range too far ahead of their time fail because they are too far out in the wilderness, and that successful projects tend to relate to existing projects.

Raymond delves into the contrast between the stated aims of open source and observed behaviors, and also explores the underlying motivations of people involved in the open source movement. He seems to settle on the idea that open-source practitioners find striving for a great reputation within the "tribe" a key motivational feature.

Jargon File

The Jargon File is a glossary and usage dictionary of slang used by computer programmers. The original Jargon File was a collection of terms from technical cultures such as the MIT AI Lab, the Stanford AI Lab (SAIL) and others of the old ARPANET AI/LISP/PDP-10 communities, including Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Carnegie Mellon University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute. It was published in paperback form in 1983 as The Hacker's Dictionary (edited by Guy Steele), revised in 1991 as The New Hacker's Dictionary (ed. Eric S. Raymond; third edition published 1996).

Linus's Law

Linus's Law is a claim about software development, named in honor of Linus Torvalds and formulated by Eric S. Raymond in his essay and book The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1999). The law states that "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow"; or more formally: "Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone." Presenting the code to multiple developers with the purpose of reaching consensus about its acceptance is a simple form of software reviewing. Researchers and practitioners have repeatedly shown the effectiveness of various types of reviewing process in finding bugs and security issues, and also that code reviews may be more efficient than testing.

Linux kernel mailing list

The Linux kernel mailing list (LKML) is the main electronic mailing list for Linux kernel development,

where the majority of the announcements, discussions, debates, and flame wars over the kernel take place. Many other mailing lists exist to discuss the different subsystems and ports of the Linux kernel, but LKML is the principal communication channel among Linux kernel developers. It is a very high-volume list, usually receiving about 1,000 messages each day, most of which are kernel code patches.

Linux utilizes a workflow governed by LKML, which is the Bazaar where kernel development takes place. In his book Linux Kernel Development, Robert Love notes:

If the Linux kernel community had to exist somewhere physically, it would call the Linux Kernel Mailing List home.

LKML functions as the central place where Linux developers around the world share patches, argue about implementation details, and discuss other issues. The official releases of the Linux kernel are indicated by an email to LKML. New features are discussed and most code is posted to the list before any action is taken. It is also the official place for reporting bugs in the Linux kernel, in case one cannot find the maintainer to whom the bug should be reported. Author Michelle Delio suggests that it was on LKML that Tux, the official Linux mascot, was suggested and refined, although the accuracy of her reporting in other stories has been disputed. Many companies associated with Linux kernel make announcements and proposals on LKML; for example, Novell, Intel, VMware, IBM, etc.

The list subscribers include all the Linux kernel maintainers as well as other known figures in Linux circles (such as Jeff V. Merkey, Eric S. Raymond, etc.). A 2000 study found that 14,535 people, from at least 30 different countries, sent at least one email to LKML between 1995 and 2000 to participate in the discussion of Linux development.Authors of books such as The Linux Kernel Development As A Model of Open Source Knowledge Creation and Motivation of Software Developers in Open Source Projects,

and Recovering Device Drivers have made use of LKML for their research studies and surveys.


ncurses (new curses) is a programming library providing an application programming interface (API) that allows the programmer to write text-based user interfaces in a terminal-independent manner. It is a toolkit for developing "GUI-like" application software that runs under a terminal emulator. It also optimizes screen changes, in order to reduce the latency experienced when using remote shells.

Open Source Initiative

The Open Source Initiative (OSI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting open-source software.

The organization was founded in late February 1998 by Bruce Perens and Eric S. Raymond, part of a group inspired by the Netscape Communications Corporation publishing the source code for its flagship Netscape Communicator product. Later, in August 1998, the organization added a board of directors.

Raymond was president from its founding until February 2005, followed briefly by Russ Nelson and then Michael Tiemann. In May 2012, the new board elected Simon Phipps as president and in May 2015 Allison Randal was elected as president when Phipps stepped down in preparation for the 2016 end of his Board term. Phipps became President again in September 2017.

Release early, release often

Release early, release often (also: time-based releases, sometimes abbreviated RERO) is a software development philosophy that emphasizes the importance of early and frequent releases in creating a tight feedback loop between developers and testers or users, contrary to a feature-based release strategy. Advocates argue that this allows the software development to progress faster, enables the user to help define what the software will become, better conforms to the users' requirements for the software,

and ultimately results in higher quality software. The development philosophy attempts to eliminate the risk of creating software that no one will use.This philosophy was popularized by Eric S. Raymond in his 1997 essay The Cathedral and the Bazaar, where Raymond stated "Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers".This philosophy was originally applied to the development of the Linux kernel and other open-source software, but has also been applied to closed source, commercial software development.

The alternative to the release early, release often philosophy is aiming to provide only polished, bug-free releases. Advocates of RERO question that this would in fact result in higher-quality releases.

Revolution OS

Revolution OS is a 2001 documentary film that traces the twenty-year history of GNU, Linux, open source, and the free software movement.

Directed by J. T. S. Moore, the film features interviews with prominent hackers and entrepreneurs including Richard Stallman, Michael Tiemann, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin, Eric S. Raymond, Bruce Perens, Frank Hecker and Brian Behlendorf.

The Art of Unix Programming

The Art of Unix Programming by Eric S. Raymond is a book about the history and culture of Unix programming from its earliest days in 1969 to 2003 when it was published, covering both genetic derivations such as BSD and conceptual ones such as Linux.

The author utilizes a comparative approach to explaining Unix by contrasting it to other operating systems including desktop-oriented ones such as Microsoft Windows and the classic Mac OS to ones with research roots such as EROS and Plan 9 from Bell Labs.

The book was published by Addison-Wesley, September 17, 2003, ISBN 0-13-142901-9 and is also available online, under a Creative Commons license with additional clauses.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar

The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary (abbreviated CatB) is an essay, and later a book, by Eric S. Raymond on software engineering methods, based on his observations of the Linux kernel development process and his experiences managing an open source project, fetchmail. It examines the struggle between top-down and bottom-up design. The essay was first presented by the author at the Linux Kongress on May 27, 1997 in Würzburg (Germany) and was published as part of the book in 1999.

The illustration on the cover of the book is a 1913 painting by Liubov Popova titled Composition with Figures and belongs to the collection of the State Tretyakov Gallery.

The book was released under the Open Publication License v2.0 around 1999.

The Practice of Programming

The Practice of Programming (ISBN 0-201-61586-X) by Brian W. Kernighan and Rob Pike is a 1999 book about computer programming and software engineering, published by Addison-Wesley.According to the preface, the book is about "topics like testing, debugging, portability, performance, design alternatives, and style," which, according to the authors, "are not usually the focus of computer science or programming courses". It treats these topics in case studies, featuring implementations in several programming languages (mostly C, but also C++, AWK, Perl, Tcl and Java).

The Practice of Programming has been translated into twelve languages. Eric S. Raymond, in The Art of Unix Programming, calls it "recommended reading for all C programmers (indeed for all programmers in any language)." A 2008 review on found that TPOP "has aged well due to its focus on general principles", and that "beginners will benefit most but experienced developers will appreciate [...] the later chapters".

UNIX System V

UNIX System V (pronounced: "System Five") is one of the first commercial versions of the Unix operating system. It was originally developed by AT&T and first released in 1983. Four major versions of System V were released, numbered 1, 2, 3, and 4. System V Release 4, or SVR4, was commercially the most successful version, being the result of an effort, marketed as "Unix System Unification", which solicited the collaboration of the major Unix vendors. It was the source of several common commercial Unix features. System V is sometimes abbreviated to SysV.

As of 2012, the Unix market is divided between five System V variants: IBM's AIX, Hewlett-Packard's HP-UX, Oracle's Solaris, Xinuos's UnixWare and illumos distributions being the open-source OpenSolaris continuation.

Wheel (computing)

In computing, the term wheel refers to a user account with a wheel bit, a system setting that provides additional special system privileges that empower a user to execute restricted commands that ordinary user accounts cannot access.

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