Eric S. Raymond

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Eric S. Raymond

Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957) (often referred to by his initials, ESR) is the author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" and the present maintainer of the "Jargon File" (also known as "The New Hacker's Dictionary"). Though the Jargon File established his original reputation as a historian/anthropologist of the hacker culture, after 1997 he became a "leading figure" in the open source movement, and is today one of the most famous (and controversial) characters.

Raymond is an avowed libertarian. He is known to have a strong interest in science fiction, is an enthusiastic amateur musician, and has a black belt in taekwondo. His advocacy of Second Amendment gun rights and support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq has nettled many, but he seems to enjoy the controversy this engenders.



Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1957, Raymond lived on three continents before settling in Pennsylvania in 1971. His involvement with hacker culture began in 1976, and he wrote his first open source project in 1982.

He was a maintainer of the fetchmail POP client. He has contributed editing modes to the EMACS editor and co-wrote portions of the GNU ncurses library. He has written a C implementation of the INTERCAL programming language parody.

Raymond coined the aphorism "Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." He credits Linus Torvalds with the inspiration for this quotation, which he dubs "Linus's law". The "mainstream" source for the quotation is his 1999 book The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, Sebastopol, California: O'Reilly & Associates; but [1] ( archives the earliest source (1997), originally distributed freely on the Internet. "Cathedral" is generally considered to be his most important work. In addition, ESR frequently makes available essays, many political in nature. An avid and persuasive writer, it is his writing, rather than coding, that really put ESR into the limelight.

After 1997 Raymond became a principal theorist in the open source movement and one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative. He also took on the role of ambassador of open source to the press, business and mainstream culture. He is a gifted speaker with the ego of a stand-up comic, and has taken his road show to more than fifteen countries on six continents. He is routinely quoted in the mainstream press, and as of 2003 has probably achieved more public visibility than almost any other open source advocate.

Raymond and his supporters have credited his tactics with a number of remarkable successes, beginning with the release of the Mozilla (then Netscape) source code in 1998, and he is widely credited with having taken the open source mission to Wall Street more effectively than earlier advocates.


Raymond initially became famous for his "adoption" of the Jargon File. Since then, many hackers have become dissatisfied by his centralized control over submissions to the Jargon File, the questionable additions and edits he has made, and removal of certain terms he feels are "dated" (which is highly questionable for an enterprise that bills itself as a dictionary, much less one that also purports to document hacking history). Raymond's supporters counter that nobody has stepped forward to fork the jargon file and then act as maintainer of the forked version.

Critics accuse Raymond of hijacking the free software movement for the sake of self-promotion. In that context it is argued that he has often worked to undermine other leaders/speakers of the movement. His disagreement with Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation's views on the ethics of free software in favour of a more market-driven stance has exacerbated some pre-existing tensions in the community.

There has also been some acrimony between Raymond and Linux developers, after the Linux project's refusal to incorporate CML2, an alternative kernel configuration system developed by Raymond. [2] ( [3] ( [4] (

He has been accused of selling out. He agreed to lecture at Microsoft in return for the opportunity to meet a couple of his favorite science fiction authors. [5] ( In addition, he accepted millions of dollars in stock options in return for giving VA Research/VA Linux Systems/VA Software credibility as their hired "moral compass". [6] ( [7] (

Furthermore, his temper has also caused some tension between himself and other Open Source advocates, most famously Bruce Perens. Perens made public a private email threat he received from Raymond on the Debian mailing lists, citing safety concerns. [8] ( [9] (

Raymond's claim to being a "Core Linux Developer" has drawn criticism since he has never had code accepted into Linux (the kernel), and his largest open source code contributions amount to relatively small portions of fetchmail, Ncurses, and Emacs editing modes. This lack of credentials led to a less-than-inspiring reception [10] ( of the essay "Shut Up And Show Them The Code", levelled at Richard Stallman, the original author of Emacs, GCC, GDB, and GNU Make, among other things.

Raymond addresses some of these criticisms in his essay "Take My Job, Please!" [11] (, where he argues that if anyone is qualified and willing to take his job and present the case for open source to the world, he would "back them to the hilt". Ironically, the aforementioned Perens incident occurred less than a month after the publication of this essay. [12] ( [13] (

During the summer of 2003, Raymond expounded his opinions about politics, human IQ differences [14] (, terrorism and the Iraq war on his weblog, provoking much heated criticism. He has also been criticised [15] ( for repeatedly modifying the Jargon file to reflect his own views about the war.

Books by Raymond

Movies with Raymond

  • Revolution OS, Linux Documentary with Eric S. Raymond on VHS/DVD


Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.
— from "The Cathedral and the Bazaar"
Anybody who has ever owned a dog who barked when strangers came near its owner's property has experienced the essential continuity between animal territoriality and human property. Our domesticated cousins of the wolf are instinctively smarter about this than a good many human political theorists.
— from "Homesteading the Noosphere"
Damn straight I took it personally. And if you ever again behave like that kind of disruptive asshole in public, insult me, and jeopardize the interests of our entire tribe, I'll take it just as personally -- and I will find a way to make you regret it. Watch your step.
— from private letter to Bruce Perens
Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use Lisp itself a lot.
— from "How to Become a Hacker"
In the U.S., blacks are 12% of the population but commit 50% of violent crimes; can anyone honestly think this is unconnected to the fact that they average 15 points of IQ lower than the general population? That stupid people are more violent is a fact independent of skin color.
— from his article titled "What is good IQ?" - Nov. 2003 [16] (

External links

es:Eric S. Raymond fr:Eric Raymond ko:에릭 레이먼드 it:Eric Steven Raymond nl:Eric Raymond ja:エリック・レイモンド pl:Eric Raymond pt:Eric S. Raymond sk:Eric Raymond zh:埃里克·斯蒂芬·雷蒙


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