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Eric S. Raymond

Eric Steven Raymond (often known as ESR) is the author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" and the present maintainer of "Jargon File" (better 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) of hackers.

Table of contents
1 Achievements
2 Criticism
3 External links
4 Quote


Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1957, Raymond lived on three continents and forgot two languages 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 is the author of the fetchmail POP client. He has also contributed many editing modes to the EMACS editor, co-wrote the GNU ncurses library. He was the creator of the C implementation of the INTERCAL programming language.

Raymond coined the sentence, "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.

After 1997 Raymond became the principal theorist of the open-source movement and one of the founders of the Open Source Initiative. He also took on the job of being the ambassador of open source to the press, business and the mainstream culture. He is a gifted speaker with the moves (and 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 any other hacker.

Raymond's tactics have scored a number of remarkable successes, beginning with the release of the Mozilla source code in 1998, and he is widely credited by both hackers and mainstream observers with having taken the open-source argument to Wall Street more effectively than anyone before him.


Despite his public achievements, Raymond has attracted a certain amount of criticism. Many critics accuse him of hijacking the free software movement for the sake of self promotion. His forthright rejection of the moral and ethical arguments of RMS and the Free Software Foundation in favor of more a pragmatic, market-friendly stance, has exacerbated some pre-existing political 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 himself.

It has been argued that Raymond has never actually written any significant software, unlike Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman or Alan Cox. His critics claim that most of the software that he lists on his webpage are originally authored and copyrighted by other people and ESR usually contributes with bug fixes or a few minor features. They eventually get listed as software that he has "co authored". The software authored by him are usually trivial and often just simple scripts, conversion utilities and the like. ESR is known to maintain "co-authorship" of lots of such projects which he "maintains". Though he has contributed very little free software himself, he mainatins a dozen FAQs, the jargon file and writes lots of essays.

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 public advocacy of Second Amendment rights and belligerent support for the 2003 Iraq War has nettled some hackers, but he seems to enjoy the controversy this engenders.

External links



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.