Eric S. Raymond

"Eric Raymond" redirects here. For other uses, see Eric Raymond (disambiguation).
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

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]

Early life

Born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1957. He lived in Venezuela as a child. His family moved to Pennsylvania, USA 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 "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 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. At this time he also 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' 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 the midst of the hockey stick controversy on the origin and severity of global warming, Raymond opined that climate scientists have been bullied into pursuing a specific outcome.[25]

Personal life

Raymond describes himself as neo-pagan.[6]


By Eric Raymond


Writings posted or archived on his website

See also


  1. 1 2 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. 1 2 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. 1 2 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.
  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". Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  17. Greenstein, Shane (January 2012). "The Range of Linus' Law" (PDF). IEEE Micro (Volume 32, Issue 1). IEEE Computer Society. Retrieved 28 August 2014.
  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). 28, 1999-023-10-NW-SM "Shut Up And Show Them The Code" Check |url= value (help). Linux Today. Retrieved November 23, 2009.
  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. Kopstein, Joshua (April 12, 2013). "Guns want to be free: what happens when 3D printing and crypto-anarchy collide?". The Verge.
  25. Lambert, Tim (2009-12-18). "Evidence doesn't seem to change Eric Raymond's mind". ScienceBlogs. Retrieved 2015-11-09.
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