Eric S. Raymond

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Hacker Emblem

Eric Steven Raymond (born in December 1957), more commonly known as esr, is an American author, programmers and open source software advocate. He is the author of the very useful How To Ask Questions The Smart Way guide on how to ask questions in a way that results in meaningful answers and the books The Cathedral and the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, The Art of Unix Programming and Learning GNU Emacs, 3rd Edition.

Eric S. Raymond invented the Hacker Emblem in October 2003.

Lessons Of Wisdom

"Release early. Release often. And listen to your customers."

Eric S. Raymond in his 1997 book "The Cathedral and the Bazaar".

"Prepare your question. Think it through. Hasty-sounding questions get hasty answers, or none at all. The more you do to demonstrate that having put thought and effort into solving your problem before seeking help, the more likely you are to actually get help."

"The real disagreement between OSI and FSF, the real axis of discord between those who speak of "open source" and "free software", is not over principles. It's over tactics and rhetoric.


Where we used to be ignored and dismissed, we are now praised and respected. The same press that used to dismiss "free software" as a crackpot idea now falls over itself writing laudatory articles about "open source". And the same corporate titans who dismissed RMS as a `communist' are lining up to pour money and effort into open-source development. Our market share and mind share have both zoomed to a level that would have seemed the stuff of delirious fancy as recently as January of last year.

Have all the opinion leaders and executives who have turned around suddenly seen the pure light of the GNU manifesto? No; instead, they point to the work of Open Source advocates to explain their conversion.

OSI's tactics work. That's the easy part of the lesson. The hard part is that the FSF's tactics don't work, and never did. If RMS's rhetoric had been effective outside the hacker community, we'd have gotten where we are now five or ten years sooner and OSI would have been completely unnecessary (and I could be writing code, which I'd much rather be doing than this...)."

Shut Up And Show Them The Code, published June 28th, 1999

Film Appearances

esr is prominently featured in the 2001 documentary Revolution OS.


esr has written a lot of free software over the years. He maintains a list of it at

The Microsoft Documents

esr leaked a internal Microsoft memo where they described their strategy against Linux and Open Source software in the late 1990s. The memo became known as "The Halloween Document".

"In the last week of October 1998, a confidential Microsoft memorandum on Redmond's strategy against Linux and Open Source software was leaked to me by a source who shall remain nameless. I annotated this memorandum with explanation and commentary over Halloween Weekend and released it to the national press. Microsoft was forced to acknowledge its authenticity. "


esr enjoys spending his free time on "implementing compilers for languages no one else is insane enough to touch with a ten-foot pole"[1], defending network freedom[2], writing games like wumpus, and firearms[3].


Eric S. Raymond has a personal website at

His website has many sub-section on topics such as:

The HTML Hell Page A page that lists what was wrong with the majority of websites made in the 1990s and the early 2000s
The Retrocomputing Museum A list of old computer technology and some retro games too
Eric Raymond's FAQ collection A list of FAQs and HOWTOs

There is much more on his website at, but you will have to click, click, click around to find it. The file is blank, so you can't cheat.


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