S. Raymondauthor

Eric S. Raymond


Average rating



Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957), often referred to as ESR, is an American software developer, open-source software advocate, and author of the 1997 essay and 1999 book The Cathedral and the Bazaar. He wrote a guidebook for the Roguelike game NetHack. In the 1990s, he edited and updated the Jargon File, published as The New Hacker's Dictionary. Raymond was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1957 and lived in Venezuela as a child. 

His family moved to Pennsylvania in 1971. He developed cerebral palsy at birth; his weakened physical condition motivated him to go into computing. Raymond began his programming career writing proprietary software between 1980 and 1985. In 1990, noting that the Jargon File had not been maintained since about 1983, he adopted it, but not without criticism; Paul Dourish maintains an archived original version of the Jargon File because he says Raymond's updates "essentially destroyed what held it together."

In 1996 Raymond took over the development of the open-source email software "pop client," renaming it to Fetchmail. 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 (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 essay has been widely cited. 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. Hahn would later describe the 1999 book as "clearly influential."

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 (OSI) in 1998, taking on the self-appointed role of ambassador of open source to the press, business, and public. He remains active in OSI but stepped down as president of the initiative in February 2005. In early March 2020, he was removed from two Open Source Initiative mailing lists due to posts that violated the OSI's Code of Conduct.

In 1998 Raymond received and published a Microsoft document expressing worry about the quality of rival open-source software. He named this document, together with others subsequently leaked, "The Halloween Documents." In 2000–2002 he created Configuration Menu Language 2 (CML2), a source code configuration system; while originally intended for the Linux operating system, it was rejected by kernel developers. 

(Raymond attributed this rejection to "kernel list politics," but Linus Torvalds said in a 2007 mailing list post that, as a matter of policy, the development team preferred more incremental changes.) Raymond's 2003 book The Art of Unix Programming discusses user tools for programming and other tasks. Some versions of NetHack still include Raymond's guide. He has also contributed code and content to the free software video game The Battle for Wesnoth. Raymond is the main developer of NTPSec, a "secure, hardened replacement" for the Unix utility NTP.

Best author’s book


The Cathedral & the Bazaar

Ryan Holiday