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Ask Eric S. Raymond Anything

Roblimo posted about 15 years ago | from the needs-no-introduction dept.

Linux 254

This week's Slashdot interview subject is Eric S. Raymond. You already know who he is, and may even know that his new book, The Cathedral and the Bazaar, subtitled Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary, will be published by O'Reilly in October. We anticipate lots of questions for Eric. Please try to avoid the obvious ones he's answered thousands of times already, and try to ask only one question per post! We'll forward the selected 10 - 15 questions deemed most interesting by Slashdot moderators and/or editors to him Tuesday afternoon. Answers will appear Friday.

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FreeBSD vs. Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656593)

I was wondering what you think of the implications of the success of linux with the creation of drivers etc due to a large number of devolpers vs the stablity and efficentcy of FreeBSD. What implications does this have for future free source ventures? Will Linux with its media hype catch FreeBSD or is it flawed to the core (or should i say 'kernel'? hehe)

Re:Music/Literature influence (gotta be Heinlein!) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656597)

That should be capitalized, i.e. Major Science Fiction, so that we know it's a proper noun, and not science fiction, the genre. Because Heinlein is old outdated crap these days.

Is Eric a member of the new-age Church of All Worlds (CAW) organization? He's clearly a neo-pagan, just wondering if he's the card carrying variety.

Re:Justification of free software? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656605)

This is a GOOD QUESTION. ASK IT. Sam Wilson

Re:Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656606)

Just go to the soothsayer's tent out in the Bazaar.

By all means stay away from the Cathederal. Those evil Christians hang out in there.

And remember, eclectic neo-paganism means never having to explain anything you don't wanna explain. If it feels good, do it.

Re:Who is he? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656610)

He's written a few essyas that have gotten published all over the place (The Cathederal and the Bizzarre), he's self-appointed to be in charge of the Internet Purity Test^T^T^T^T^T^T^T^T^T Jargon File.

He's the Linux equivalent of Guy Kawasaki.

Frightening, isn't it?

Re:First question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656611)

Damn Straight

Re:Who is he? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656612)

Apprently yes!

Re:Is that really the title? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656618)

Mabie he's referring to eithor the Kernel, the Movement, or Specific distributions, which can all be refered to as "Linux".

Re:Gun Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656619)

Not that I'm trying to answer this one for Mr. Raymond, but I recently had this discussion with someone else. I think the problem is in the misconception that having a gun gives you power when infact having a gun causes one person to end up dead and the other to end up in jail. The proper action should then be to teach gun safty in schools. I think that if children are exposed to guns at an early age, taught how to use them, and taught what they ca and, more importantly, what they can't do, kids would be much less likely to try to solve their problems with a gun.
Of course we also need to work on eliminating these

Re:Gun Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656620)

Not that I'm trying to answer this one for Mr. Raymond, but I recently had this discussion with someone else. I think the problem is in the misconception that having a gun gives you power when infact having a gun causes one person to end up dead and the other to end up in jail. The proper action should then be to teach gun safty in schools. I think that if children are exposed to guns at an early age, taught how to use them, and taught what they can and, more importantly, what they can't do, kids would be much less likely to try to solve their problems with a gun.
Of course we also need to work on eliminating these problems in the first place...

Re:Intercal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656625)

What defines a Turing-complete programming language?


Re:Question: How would you fix Microsoft? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656626)

Hmm... lets see... (BTW, i'm not a microsoft employee or particullary pro-microsoft.)

I can't think of the last time Microsoft has bought a competitor just so it can claim stake to the market. (Computer Associates does this all the time.)

XML, HTML, IMPP, etc... Microsoft has been pushing to use public standards rather than introduce new ones. Is it's method of "embrace and extend" that different from other companies?

They haven't released the source for everything to the public, but most universities have access to the Windows NT and Windows CE source trees. (If your school doesn't, talk to your dean, it's very easy to get.)

Microsoft has about 3 technical conferences a day in my area alone (Technet, MSDN meetings, Training opportunities, etc.) Many of these are free, and the ones that aren't free are $100. Other companies host these, but not nearly as often and they cost $1200-$5000. I know most developers don't take advantage of these, but isn't this a sign of trying to help developers?

IE took over Netscape not just because it was on the desktop already, but it's a better product. Read any comparison of the two, and you'll see IE (at least IE 5) win. Or do your own compairison - how many times a day does Netscape crash? More than once? Then use IE for a week and see if it ever crashes.

Office is bloated, but they partially fixed that by only installing the necessary parts and features as you use them get installed JIT-style.

Windows 98 is buggy, and NT blue screens, but Windows 2000 is being talked about by non-Microsoft people as the most stable thing since a pad of paper. Is it more useful than a pad of paper? Who knows... I played with it and it was definitly faster than my NT install, and a hellalot faster than my 98 install, and the telnet demon was pretty cool, but the other features i don't really know much about.

A simple question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656631)

why aren't the tools used to create the Jargon File open source?

Might show my age here, but.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656632)

When's the next release of Nethack slated for public consumption, or is it effectively dead?
And don't say "it'll be released when it's ready" ;-)

An original question... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656634)

You've attended a lot of technical shows, expos, conventions, etc.. Do you see the general dumbing-down of the attendants as a good thing? Does it show that Linux and Open Source have really made it, when technically illiterate people are lining-up to hear Linus, Alan Cox, or even David Mosberger speak? Or, is a serious problem that will hurt us? I noticed last year at the Linux Expo, the crowds were a hindrance to intelligent discourse.

Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656635)

Eric, Do you ever regret the position you've attained in the community or the positions that you have taken? Sometimes, when I read about your beliefs or positions, I feel that you don't see any grey, just black and white. Oftentimes this is the case with revolutionary's but if you ask almost any former '60s radical, they will regret not having seen the grey areas.

Religion (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656638)

Eric, what would you recommend for an aspiring wiccan follower? Are there particular texts or authors that you would recommend? A way of going about things that would help? Yes, we've already read your paper, but what could you add?

Alternately... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656644)

Do you have a social life? Do you date? In your work "The Hacker's Guide" you mention that all hacker wanna-be's should abstain from sex. I find this quite strange since Linus has a family. And, most of the hackers in the open source movement seem to be married or have girl/boy friends. I also find it interesting that you do not mention abstaining from drugs and alcohol. It seems that the Linux community is obsessed with beer.

First question (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656648)

Eric, have you ever had a "First Post"?

Gilligan's Island (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656649)

Which would you prefer: Ginger or Mary Ann?

Simple economics: (1)

nickm (1468) | about 15 years ago | (#1656656)

What do you feel is the role of Crackmonkey in the new gift-culture information economy? Is GAR a resource currently in artificial scarcity? How does Crackmonkey help or hinder participating in the reputation game? What future developments would you recommend for Spock Mountain Research Labs?
I noticed

Re:Are You Gay???? (1)

Tet (2721) | about 15 years ago | (#1656663)

Very unlikely. I think his wife would probably have noticed by now. Of course, he could be bisexual, but that's not what you asked...

Re:Alternately... (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about 15 years ago | (#1656667)

Obsessed with Beer?

That's the first I've heard of it.

World Domination (1)

malex (5167) | about 15 years ago | (#1656672)

Will Open Source dominate the world?

Sun's SCSL (1)

Ed Avis (5917) | about 15 years ago | (#1656675)

I was very excited when I heard from you that Sun would be making almost all their software Open Source. But what they have done isn't OSS, it's just releasing proprietary / semi-free software but letting people look at the code. In many ways, this is a bad thing, because it 'taints' developers who might otherwise develop Open Source alternatives (for example, trying to clone Java).

Do you think that we will see companies such as Sun release products as _real_ Open Source, or will they just be content with halfway houses like the SCSL?

Re:... (1)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1656677)

What I want to know is why hackers and geeks can share such a spirit of comradre with each other, but then become absolute bigots when discussing their holy-war-of-choice. It just seems contradictory (and yet.. it makes perfect sense).

the RMS v. ESR debatacle seems to be a shining example of this - they are both hackers in their own right, they are both working towards the same general goal.. but yet when it comes to describing "Open Source" v. "Free Software" they both dip into non-linear territory. I can see a visible effort being made to maintain civility on some of the listservs - and Eric has on more than one occasion lamblasted somebody for getting their facts reversed. This fact hasn't gone unnoticed by the news media - I recall an article describing this exact chasm appearing on slashdot in the not-too distant past.

The question is... why?


Have you benefited of Live-action Role Playing? (1)

korpiq (8532) | about 15 years ago | (#1656678)

I noticed your LARP resume on your home page. It's a continuous debate at least here in Finland whether LARP is only entertainment or if one can actually develop social or other skills through it. What is your experience and general opinion?

BTW, you're welcome to contact me if you ever happen to visit Finland and would like to get an invitation to some game that suits your interests.

Finnish Live Action Role Players' Association []

Taking time out for fun (1)

HP LoveJet (8592) | about 15 years ago | (#1656679)

Do you ever consider taking a sabbatical for a year or so, away from the conferences, "serious" coding, and community-building, to give time to projects you enjoy?

I'd be tempted to spend a while extending INTERCAL and/or Nethack, myself.

AOL, MS, and IM. (1)

K. (10774) | about 15 years ago | (#1656683)

Do you still think MS were in the right in
the recent IM battle?


More Open source, libertarianism? (1)

WillWare (11935) | about 15 years ago | (#1656685)

I'd like to generalize the previous question, and ask you about any connections you see between OS/free software and libertarianism. E.g.:

  • In what ways can OSS be an enabling technology for advancing libertarianism?
  • Do OSS business models teach us anything about being better libertarians?
  • Can OSS be a factor in reducing the size and power of government?
  • How can we non-coercively ensure that RMS never sings again?

Re:Jack Booted Thugs... (1)

mattc (12417) | about 15 years ago | (#1656686)

Innocents?!? They were criminals resisting arrest!

Tell us your side of the story, Eric... (1)

Medievalist (16032) | about 15 years ago | (#1656695)

Care to comment on the story (popular in the DC area) of your yakking over the catwalk rail in the Cape Canaveral Vehicle Asembly Building?
Is it a base canard? An exaggeration? Maybe something some other guy named ESR did?
Or, are you the first non-astronaut to send blown chunks into orbit?

C'mon, Rob, don't moderate my question out... Infantile minds want to know!

Question Selection Cut-Off Notification (1)

bnf (16861) | about 15 years ago | (#1656698)


In Friday's responses from Havoc Pennington we learned [] that there is a Tuesday cut-off for question selection. I would like to suggest that once questions are selected, The Powers That Be(SM) post an Update: to the article explaining that we should all sit on our hands until Friday and not promote additional carpal tunnel syndrome by needlessly posting additional questions or wasting valuable moderator points.

just an idea.


Politics, and the Capitol of the Internet (1)

Kagenin (19124) | about 15 years ago | (#1656705)

What is your opinion on Virginia's claim to be the Capitol of the Internet? What is your opinion on what SHOULD be the capitol?

It's always been my understanding that California was the Capitol State, what with Silicon Valley (easily the capitol of High Technology), UCLA (part of the first experiment 30 years ago), UCB (who begat BSD)... What does Virgina have? AOL?!? C'mon...that's not even funny!

Successor? (1)

cemerson (21094) | about 15 years ago | (#1656707)

Should you ever have to step out of the OS picture for whatever reason, who would you (a) chooose, and (b) choose to take your place?

Is that really the title? (1)

frantzdb (22281) | about 15 years ago | (#1656709)

Wouldn't it be "...Musings on GNU/Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary"?

Just asking :-)


Check ESR's web site (1)

laktar (22519) | about 15 years ago | (#1656710)
Large portions are devoted to guns and ESR's views on guns.

-Laktar, a.k.a. Nick Rosen,

If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord:
64. I will see a competent psychiatrist and get cured of all extremely unusual
phobias and bizarre compulsive habits which could prove to be a disadvantage.
-- Peter's Evil Overlord List,

BSD License Revisions (1)

laktar (22519) | about 15 years ago | (#1656711)

What do you think of the changes to the BSD license?

-Laktar, a.k.a. Nick Rosen,

If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord:
1. My Legions of Terror will have helmets with clear plexiglass visors, not
face-concealing ones.
-- Peter's Evil Overlord List,

Software Engineering and OpenSource/Free Software (1)

Raleel (30913) | about 15 years ago | (#1656719)

How do you feel that Open Source and Free Software mesh with software engineering principals, including the capability maturity model. The seemingly haphazard methods of the bazaar would seem to fly in the face of the CMM

Re:... (1)

Zurk (37028) | about 15 years ago | (#1656722)

thats simple. and its come up on practically *every* mensa magazine out there..seems that the more intelligent people are the more they like to argue. leading software developers or mensa members is like herding cats..they fight a lot before they actually start doing anything.

Re:After Linux (1)

Zurk (37028) | about 15 years ago | (#1656723)

one word : HURD !

Eric question (1)

Mykul (41817) | about 15 years ago | (#1656731)

Out of all the gaming platforms in this 'wonderful' age of computers, what would you say is your favorite and why?

Question everything!

Who is he? (1)

Anders Hckersten (45357) | about 15 years ago | (#1656736)

Am I the only person here who has NO idea of who the person I'm supposed to be asking questions is, and what he has done?
(no, this wasn't a joke)

Favorite Guns (1)

antizeus (47491) | about 15 years ago | (#1656738)

Which models of firearms do you prefer?

Breakfast cereals-- what gets you started? (1)

nano-second (54714) | about 15 years ago | (#1656741)

Well, we've got to have a choice of funny questions, so here goes. (inspired by the current poll):

When choosing a breakfast cereal (assuming you consume breakfast cereals) which of the following methods do you practice and why ?

a)best brand-name recognition from product placements and/or blatant advertising
b)most irritatingly memorable jingle
c)coolest mascot
d)least nutritious, most sugar-coated-candy-frosted-chocolate-filled-anti-p rotein-fat-laden-Calvin&Hobbes-esque cereal
e)most nutrious, health-freak-dietary-fibre-enhanced-vitamin-minera l-replacement cereal
f)random chance, just grab whichever box comes to hand (the Zen choice)
g)Breakfast cereal ?! Who gets up in time for breakfast ?

Future direction of the Internet (1)

Velox_SwiftFox (57902) | about 15 years ago | (#1656745)

Eric, over the last decade usage of the Internet has grown immensely, become overwhelmingly World Wide Web oriented, and been stratified from a way of exchanging information between sites both supplying and using data to a structure divided between "suppliers" such as portal sites and "users" often actually forbidden to operate server software on their connections, and expected to use little other than their web browsers to guess, point, click, wait, and repeat in a linear search for information.

Is it your belief that these trends will continue, or do you feel that there is still room for entirely new methods of gathering and presenting Internetted data to users to appear and compete in the marketplace, or for the users to return to supplying a greater share of the data retrieved by other users?

Re:Intercal (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 15 years ago | (#1656753)

For those of you who don't know Intercal, it is a Turing-complete programming language deliberately designed to be unlike any other programming language in any form.

Check The Intercal Resources Page [] for more information.

Intercal (1)

Teancum (67324) | about 15 years ago | (#1656755)

What possibly possessed you to ever come up with this programming language (Intercal)?

Are you still doing anything with the language and what kind of support for it is happening with Linux?

libertarianism and the BSDs' survival (1)

twilight30 (84644) | about 15 years ago | (#1656764)

Given that you support libertarianism, and yet also have stated a desire to see the various Unixen coalesce around Linux, how relevant is the BSDs' survival to you and why?

Your favorite programming language (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656776)

Each language has it's own merits and uses but everyone has a favorite. If you could program something in any language without any loss in portability, functionality et al... which one would be your choice and why? plaXion

Question: How would you fix Microsoft? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656777)

Ok, so just about everybody hates Microsoft, that's just a fact. So what can Microsoft do fix it's self? Not just it's image of the 800 pound gorrila or the Evil Empire - but how it functions as a company.

I'd rather be pro-microsoft than pro-aol (the 8000 pound gorrila that most people don't see coming).

MacOS X is BSD (was: Re:...) (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about 15 years ago | (#1656780)

> Apple has turned to BSD not Linux.

It probably has more to do with history than anything else. Apple _used_ to be into Linux (with MkLinux) until they bought NeXTSTEP, which already included a BSD on top of MACH. They have released the non-GUI part (Darwin) of MacOS X as free software, so I doubt that the GPL requirement to do that was significant in the decision.

Areas that would get most/least from Open Source (2)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | about 15 years ago | (#1656781)

In which of the application areas currently dominated by proprietary solutions do you think free software would work best? And which areas do you think free software are least likely to succeed in?

Or are there no way to guess?

Geeks with Guns info? (2)

Q*bert (2134) | about 15 years ago | (#1656782)

What conferences are you planning to attend this year? Do you have plans for organizing Geeks with Guns outings during them? If so, is there a mailing list or some other source of information about how to join?

Beer recipe: free! #Source
Cold pints: $2 #Product

Software companies and Open Source (2)

Coppit (2441) | about 15 years ago | (#1656783)

What influence, if any, do you think the Open Source movement will have on companies whose sole value is in the software they sell? (i.e. they don't sell support or services -- just closed-source binaries.)
-------------------------------------- -----------------
"For I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words

yes he did sing it, and heres the url (2)

caolan (2716) | about 15 years ago | (#1656784)

he sang it alright, and heres the url []


Re:Music/Literature influence (gotta be Heinlein!) (2)

Tet (2721) | about 15 years ago | (#1656785)

what ten albums and ten books would you want with you?

Eric's a major science fiction fan, and I'd guess that the works of Robert Heinlein would figure prominently in any such list...

How to best "infect" proprietary OS'? (2)

brennanw (5761) | about 15 years ago | (#1656786)

I'm a big fan of the idea behind open source software, and I do play around with Linux, but most of my time is spent with "closed source" operating systems. Due to the viral nature of many open source licenses -- most notably the GPL -- it seems like there should be a way to increase the amount of open source software on proprietary platforms, which would (in theory) make proprietary systems more open and strengthen open source software in general.

How would you suggest going about doing this?

Music/Literature influence (2)

Byteme (6617) | about 15 years ago | (#1656787)

If you were stranded on a desert island, what ten albums and ten books would you want with you?

... (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1656788)

Did RMS really sing 'join us now and share the software'? :^)


Re:yes he did sing it, and heres the url (2)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1656789)

Well thanks alot... you spoiled the whole thing. I wanted ESR to come out and admit that he too has been recording himself singing in the shower (and post some links to boot!). *sniffle* :^)


General gift-culture? (2)

korpiq (8532) | about 15 years ago | (#1656790)

Most critical battles of propaganda war have already been won, haven't they (the turnout has sure been fast-paced this year)? Now some efforts have to be focused to getting all the big corporations to really work together in open source spirit, but it's likely FSF will do a lot of the preachery :)

Do you have a vision of how to maximize the prize - would it be a neat idea for the next decade to talk about other relevant areas of sharing (non-computer IP issues, global poverty), or should the open source movement not be used as an example for a more general gift-culture based alternative society?

Re:2cd Q: What would/did you change? (2)

meersan (26609) | about 15 years ago | (#1656791)

ORA's website on your book says that your essay, the Cathedral and the Bazaar, has been updated and expanded. Did you add anything to reflect the sweeping changes that have been ocurring in the industry due growing acceptance of Open Source Software? I'm not suggesting anything like Bill Gates's revamp of The Road Ahead (when he realized the internet, not the cd-rom, was the Next Big Thing). In short, has your outlook on the Open Source Movement changed at all since you initially wrote CatB, and if so, how?

Politcal and religious diversity (2)

teraflop user (58792) | about 15 years ago | (#1656794)

The free software movement seems to span many political and religious viewpoints, and you must have met more of the movement than most people. Do you have and feeling for what worldviews are more common in the free software movement? Is it every difficult working on a shared cause with people with very different motivations?

Intercal (2)

el_ted (61073) | about 15 years ago | (#1656796)

What about rewriting Linux and Gnu software on Intercal and building an Intercal Operational System that only Intercallers would know how to use?

I just had to get it off my chest - viral gpl (2)

mftuchman (66894) | about 15 years ago | (#1656798)

/rant on/
I wish distinguished people such as yourself would stop calling the Gnu GPL "viral". Viral has a hostile connotation that the GPL doesn't really deserve. Self-Perpetuating is not synonymous with viral. You may not like the GPL's restrictions on re-use in proprietary software, but that does not justify use of a term such as "Viral" that implies a definite mens rea .

People in leadership positions should be more careful of the language they use because it will be duplicated. You are entitled to your opinion, Mr. Christiansen, but you do not benefit the tone of public debate when you use terms such as "viral" to describe the GPL. Less heat, more light, remember?
/rant off/

Cathedral and the Bazaar (3)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656800)

The Cathedral and the Bazaar was initially a attack on the mandarin system setup by the FSF, but in the last year it has seemingly metamorphasized into an attack on all closed source software development.

Some, usually small shops that develop proprietary software, have charactized this as a matter of convienience for the author. These people typically see the essay as an attack, as they earn their living writing code and the two most prominant figures in the Open Source and Free Software movements do not.

What would you say to these small development houses to assuage their fears and/or point them in a better direction.

Who pays your rent? (3)

Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656801)

Are you tenured-for-life somewhere like RMS?

How does this affect your attitude when you're writing about or discussing the future of programmers whose career is tied to the commercial success of non-Open Source software development?

Open Source Applications.. (3)

Mike Hicks (244) | about 15 years ago | (#1656802)

I guess I don't exactly know how to phrase this question properly, but here goes:

What do you think is the 'coolest' piece of open source software you've ever seen?

Jack Booted Thugs... (3)

RobbieW (4330) | about 15 years ago | (#1656804)

Eric, what do you think needs to be done about the increase in military style attacks on civilians by our police agencies. These (Waco, Ruby Ridge, assorted "drug busts") invasions have killed far too many innocents. What can we do?

"You can twist perceptions, reality won't budge." --Rush

Guns and code (3)

kevin lyda (4803) | about 15 years ago | (#1656805)

How well do you think your message for free software will be received in Europe since you frequently include references to your political position on guns? Since most people in Europe have chosen not to equate guns and freedom, don't you feel that your message on free software gets lost as "rantings of a crazy American?"

On the Economics of Software Development (3)

LL (20038) | about 15 years ago | (#1656808)

In your paper The Magic Cauldron [] you talk about the sale value (final cost to consumer) and use value (what economics would consider a capital good). Modern capitalist societies have evolved very complex and sophisticated instruments (a la the profit motive) to price these goods and signal to the market what is valued. With OpenSource, this pricing information is missing and thus time/effort is spent on "sexy" projects like 3D interfaces (what economists call malinvestments) instead of really important stuff like good optimising compilers.

Question 1) Pricing of OpenSource Software How can OpenSource software be fairly priced given that it is always possible to undercut a distributor?

Question 2) Distribution of Resources Instead of vertically integrating all the profits at the sale end (distributions like Red Hat), how can the creators of the intermediate goods get enough funding to continue refining their products?

Question 3) Scaling to Megaprojects Given the limitations of no capital pool of funding so that intermediate software can maintained, will OpenSource projects be limited to "small" projects that can be supported by 1-6 key designers and wouldn't this be an inherent constraint?

Question 4) Bazaar Rules of Conduct At the moment, the Software Bazaar is controlled by gentleman rules of conduct (no encroaching on projects, equal sharing, etc). Do you see this continuing with the increasing commercialisation (and potential moral corruption) of the hacker's "gift culture"?

Question 5) Software Patent Roadblocks In a situation where time-to-market is becoming a key factor in dominating the bulk of the profits (see some notes on game theory of software patents [] ), how can OpenSource work around limitations of key locks on irreplaceable algorithms?

Question 6) Freedom to Copy. While big companies like SGI have the resources and name-brand equity to release and protect their OpenSource efforts, how will smaller entry level players survive long enough without their ideas being poached by bigger companies?


After the revolution (3)

MoxCamel (20484) | about 15 years ago | (#1656809)

Typically, at the conclusion of a successful revolution the "founding fathers" don't hang around to enjoy the fruits of their success. So where will you and what will you be doing be when Free/Open Source becomes the norm, and the need to evangelize is gone?

OS Popularity (3)

laktar (22519) | about 15 years ago | (#1656811)

What do you think will happen to the traditional OS development model you described in the Cathedral and the Bizarre as more companies hop on the OS bandwagon? Do you think it will be able to sustain itself as the primary software development model? How will it need to change?

-Laktar, a.k.a. Nick Rosen,

If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord:
30. All bumbling conjurers, clumsy squires, no-talent bards, and cowardly
thieves in the land will be preemptively put to death. My foes will surely
give up and abandon their quest if they have no source of comic relief.
-- Peter's Evil Overlord List,

Flirtations (3)

laktar (22519) | about 15 years ago | (#1656812)

I've read a lot of your accounts of travels and the like and you seem to be very flirtatious in nature. What does your wife think of this?

-Laktar, a.k.a. Nick Rosen,

If I Ever Became An Evil Overlord:
27. I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems
will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I
will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.
-- Peter's Evil Overlord List,

Lateral Applications of OSS? (3)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about 15 years ago | (#1656813)

All right, I think it's been proven pretty thoroughly that Open Source methods work for software engineering. Tell me, do you see Open Source being applicable to other real-world problems? Could scientific research/teaching/politics/other endeavours benefit from a 'Bazaar' approach of distributed design? To what other fields would you like to see OSS applied?


Anonymous Coward | about 15 years ago | (#1656817)

Dear ESR:

(No GIFs due to patent problems)

I'm sure everyone at Slashdot is familiar with the internal strife and conflict that can currently be found in the Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified movement, a primary cause of which is YOU and your cronies and your watered-down version of the ideals of Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified, which you laughably refer to as Mae Ling Mak Immobilized and Not Fully Clothed. You've taken what was good and pure about Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified and watered it down so it would be more tolerable and acceptable to conservative blowhards who are afraid to think outside the terms of society's established notions and conditions. This is detailed on our web page (no GIFs due to patent problems!!!) in our founder's document "Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified vs. Mae Ling Mak Immobilized and Not Fully Clothed," so I won't repeat what's already been said.

You state that by changing "Petrified" to "Immobilzied" you placate those who are afraid of the idea of petrification, and by replacing "Naked" with "Not Fully Clothed" you placate those who fear nudity. I SAY THAT THIS IS WRONG!!! The entire HEART of Mae Ling (No GIFs due to patent problems) Mak naked and petrified is MAE LING MAK.... NAKED.... AND PETRIFIED. The nudity and the petrification are the essential elements!

This bastardized philosophy you preach flies in the face of the Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified movement, which you ONCE claimed to support! (No GIFs due to patent problems) Now you've stomped on our heads on your rise to glory with your own hacked-up version of our philosphy. "Immobilized and not fully clothed" indeed! Why, that could be referring to a paralyzed Polish cowboy wearing a bikini for all we know! (No GIFs due to patent problems)

We know what's GOOD for the people, even if the people don't know what's good for themselves. What's good for the people is Mae Ling Mak, naked, and petrified. The people (No GIFs due to patent problems) NEED a naked Mae Ling Mak statue. You can't dispute this. You believe this yourself. And yet you refuse to stand up for what you believe! You say, "Well, maybe it's okay if she's not petrified, as long as she can't move," or (No GIFs due to patent problems) "Well, maybe she doesn't have to be naked, but she could at least take her shirt off or something." You BELIEVE she should be naked and petrified, but you ALLOW other lesser variations on this perfect theme into what could otherwise be a strong, world-dominating paradigm! (No GIFs due to patent problems)

You've sold out to the court of popular opinion. You're a blight on the face of the Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified movement. I hope you enjoy your Mae Ling Mak Immobilzed and Not Fully Clothed movement while it lasts, because guess what, we're going to run you (No GIFs due to patent problems) out of town!

FURTHER (No GIFs due to patent problems) NOTE: Please see THIS COMMENT [] in which several misconceptions of a person referencing Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified incorrectly were addressed.

Anyway, my QUESTION, is in your official response to (no GIFs due to patent problems) our founder's attack on the Mae Ling Mak Immobilized and Not Fully Clothed movement, you left SEVERAL major points unaddressed.

1. How you expect EITHER of the two Mae Ling Mak immobilization movements to compete with its competitors, the FreeMLM, OpenMLM, and NetMLM movements, with all this silly infighting that's going on.

2. The accusation that you simply watered-down Mae Ling Mak Naked and Petrified not for any real moral reason, or even to make it more acceptable to the general public, but simply to make it more acceptable to big business and help to increase profit potential? (No GIFs due to patent problems) Do I smell the rancid stench of Capitalism on your breath, ESR??

3. Ain't Mae Ling Mak really cute?

4. (No GIFs due to patent problems)

5. Just what's the big idea, anyway???

Those are all the questions.





A GOOD STATUEPHILE WEBSITE [] but it contains a GIF so it's bad!!!!!

ANOTHER GOOD STATUEPHILE WEBSITE [] but it contains GIFs so it has to DIE!!!!

I hope you'll be able to clear this up. Thank you for your time.

The costs of success... (4)

planet_hoth (3049) | about 15 years ago | (#1656820)

Recent interest shown by large commericial tech companies (IBM, SGI, Sun) seems to signal a new chapter in the history of Linux. Do you see the participation of these companies strenghtening the linux communitity? Destroying it? Or transforming it into something completely different?

Linux, failure, and open source (4)

planet_hoth (3049) | about 15 years ago | (#1656821)

(Not that I anticipate any of this happening, but...)

What if Linux "fails" in the commercial/business sector? (By failure I mean "not adopted in any significant numbers", "a flop".) What if, for whatever reason, the current pro-Linux trend is reversed, and in 5 years most current Linux users have moved on to some other, non-Free/Open OS? If the Linux movement fizzes out, would this be a blow to the Free Software/Open Source movement? Do you believe the future of these ideas are tied to the success of Linux?

Will we fall prey to an Inquisition (4)

rawlink (5781) | about 15 years ago | (#1656823)

I have a growing concern that some commercial organizations are only becoming involved in the Open Source movement because it is a common front to attack Micro$oft. Once they believe parity has been achieved do you think they will turn on the community and go back to their old tactics (IMHO several of them are just as guilty as Micro$oft in their unethical business practices)? And, if that happens do you think that OSS will have a large enough install base and IT/Enterprise presence to not only survive, but continue to thrive?

Guaranteed original question (4)

Studmonkey (6821) | about 15 years ago | (#1656824)

Who does your hair? :)

Jargon File/New Hacker's Dictionary (4)

Stephen Williams (23750) | about 15 years ago | (#1656826)

I'm glad to see that, after a three-year break, the Jargon File has been updated over the past few months. Is version 5.0.0 in the works? Are there any plans to release an update to the print version, The New Hacker's Dictionary, any time soon?


"Natural Value" of software (4)

dublin (31215) | about 15 years ago | (#1656827)

At the Open Source Forum here in Austin a couple of months ago, we briefly spoke about the impact of Open Source on the price of commercial software. We both agreed that Open Source software is driving the cost of commercial software down to something closer to its "true" value than its current benefits-based valuation in the marketplace.

At the same time, "free" (in the beer sense) does not adequately reflect the amount of effort required to develop and test software, particulary software that is thinly used (attractive to a limited user base), and hence would not likely be able to generate a sufficient base of Open Source developers. A few questions:

Is there a "Natural Value" of software to which the Open Source pressures are driving commercial software prices?

Can Open Source development efforts be adequately encouraged in vital but thinly populated user bases?

Fianlly, although Linux and other Open Source projects are improving more rapidly than their commercial counterparts, they tend to lack significantly (and not surprisingly) in areas which require an overall architecture. (An example would be the apparent lack of an Open Source *equivalent* (there are subsets) to Microsoft's Active Directory, which, regardless of one's view of Microsoft, is a pretty impressive piece of technology.) What part(s) of the Open Source community do you foresee as being able to step up to the plate and address the "big picture"?

(I'll air my own views if these questions are chosen...)

Gun Control (4)

bgarcia (33222) | about 15 years ago | (#1656828)

I've heard that you're a libertarian, so I'm interested in hearing your views on this subject. Although you'll probably have to put on the asbestos undies before responding:

With the recent shootings at schools across America, people are calling for further bans on guns. Many people would like to see all guns made illegal. Please discuss your views on this subject.

99 little bugs in the code, 99 bugs in the code,
fix one bug, compile it again...

Many advocates or one? (5)

Paul Crowley (837) | about 15 years ago | (#1656830)

In "Understand my job, please!" [] you described Bruce Perens's proposal [] that we have a team of Linux advocates sharing the load as "glib". Could you say more about why you feel this way - isn't it more likely that a job where the load is shared would be more attractive?


Open source => libertarianism? (5)

Q*bert (2134) | about 15 years ago | (#1656831)

We all know that you are a staunch advocate of libertarianism. Do you see the open-source / free-software movement turning into a larger political push for libertarian, minimal government?

Beer recipe: free! #Source
Cold pints: $2 #Product

Does closed source software always suck? (5)

Tet (2721) | about 15 years ago | (#1656832)

You say you want to live in a world where software doesn't suck. I couldn't agree more. However, do you see closed source software on an open source OS as a step in the right direction, or just likely to be a more stable platform on which to run your potentially bug-ridden software?

... (5)

Signal 11 (7608) | about 15 years ago | (#1656833)

What's your position on the chasm that's developed between the "Free Software" and "Open Source" camps? Is there a genuine reason for having two seperate movements? Lastly, is there any hope of consolation between these two movements...are they even on the same track??

I know these are tough questions to ask.. but the good ones are always controversial.


Stepping Down? (5)

chromatic (9471) | about 15 years ago | (#1656834)

Astute readers know why you've reluctantly taken a position as a Linux evangelist, open source sociologist, and prime target. Taking the opposite approach, is there anything which would convince you to step down, that your posts were no longer necessary?

This is not meant to be inflammatory ... it's just a roundabout way of asking how far along your goals are, and what your plans will be if you ever meet them.

Thanks for your time!

QDMerge [] 0.21!

After Linux (5)

banky (9941) | about 15 years ago | (#1656835)

Linux, like all things in the computer world, will eventually become obsolete or maybe just too much work to keep "up to date". Linus (er, Dr. Torvalds) even said in his "Open Sources" essay that (paraphrasing) someone else could come along and write something better which will take Linux's place. How long do you think before someone will have an offering that will obsolete (or at least prove a competitor to) Linux and the BSD's? It certainly won't be the offering of that company in Redmond..

Free Software? (5)

K. (10774) | about 15 years ago | (#1656836)

Why isn't there an entry for "free software"
in the Jargon Dictionary? Was this a
politically-motivated decision?


Coding legends (5)

cemerson (21094) | about 15 years ago | (#1656837)

Which of the coders working on open source projects do you admire the most? A particular big name like Linus, or someone less well-known?

What led you to write CatB? (5)

meersan (26609) | about 15 years ago | (#1656838)

This has probably been asked before, but I can't recall seeing the answer to it anywhere. What originally led you to write The Cathedral and the Bazaar? -- what I'm interested in is if there was some event or impetus that prompted you to write it down. Obviously you'd have no way of predicting the firestorm that followed, but it's always intriguing to know about the spark that started it all.

Did you get your life back? (5)

Ivo (26920) | about 15 years ago | (#1656839)

A while ago, we read from you that being the Open Source advocate you are was wearing you down and influencing your life very badly. Did you cut down on advocating and did it help? In other words, did you get your life back?


Re:... (5)

Tom Christiansen (54829) | about 15 years ago | (#1656841)

I don't know how to ask this question without it sounding like stirring the pot, but what about the growing chasm between free software (giftware) and GNU software (the viral kind, not the nice LGPL kind)? This is a real issue for some people in some situations. Think about the many BSD resellers and vendors who have custom packaging in highly competitive fields, like video editing? Doesn't the friction hurt everyone? Apple has turned to BSD not Linux, and the GPL is cited as one reason why. This seems to be devisive. There are no end of flamewars on /. and elsewhere, and the heat diminishes the light. What kind of reconciliation is possible? Or is "take no prisoners" just the way it has to work?

Justification of free software? (5)

teraflop user (58792) | about 15 years ago | (#1656842)

Eric, in your papers you've put forward many political, sociological and technical reasons why open source software is a good thing. (For example the gift culture is a political model, peer aclaim is a motivation for some programmers, peer review leads to less buggy software).

Every individual will be differently influenced by these different arguments, depending on their political leanings, emotional makeup, and the problems they are trying to solve. Which justification is the one which is most persuasive to you personally?

Vertical Open Source Projects (5)

jflynn (61543) | about 15 years ago | (#1656843)

Starting an open source project from nothing but people with a common interest is difficult. It's been my experience that it is very easy to founder with a bazaar approach to architecture and design. The issues tend to get confused with religious wars about toolkits and license choice, and just a lot of differing opinions about how to best structure a program, no one of which may be *obviously* better.

Is it essential for individuals to first create a working model, incomplete and buggy it may be, before applying bazaar development? Or what would you suggest in terms of managing a bazaar approach to creating programs from a bare idea?

VA Linux (5)

asad (65703) | about 15 years ago | (#1656844)

I know that you are on the board of directors at VA Linux, what does your job entail ? Could you describe to us what a typical work day is work you ? (If there is such a thing as a typical work day).

Writing code (5)

shawnhargreaves (66193) | about 15 years ago | (#1656845)

You've always been involved in hacker projects outside of just coding (eg. the Jargon File), but over the last year or so the spokesperson role seems to have grown into a fulltime job. How long is it since you last sat down to write a major piece of software? Do you expect to go back to fulltime development work anytime soon, and if so, what would you work on? How do you manage to cope with the withdrawal symptoms?

Friction (5)

scumdamn (82357) | about 15 years ago | (#1656846)

Is the friction between Gnome and KDE, BSD and GPL, Free Software and Open Source, and the other sources of flame war a bad thing or a good thing for the movement? Many people seem to feel that the competition is devisive, but isn't it the opposite? We're always preaching that competition is a good thing for the entire market, but then we complain when any of our pet projects are pitted head to head with another. The passion felt by the proponents of each philosophy seems to result in better, more quality work. Isn't this proof that competition is the Good Thing we've been saying it is all along?
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