Eric S. Raymond

Eric S.

American Computer Programmer, Author, Open Software Advocate, Author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar." present maintainer of the "Jargon File" (aka "The New Hacker's Dictionary")

Author Quotes

Computer science education cannot make anybody an expert programmer any more than studying brushes and pigment can make somebody an expert painter.

The beginnings of the hacker culture as we know it today can be conveniently dated to 1961, the year MIT acquired the first PDP-1.

For the first time, individual hackers could afford to have home machines comparable in power and storage capacity to the minicomputers of ten years earlier - Unix engines capable of supporting a full development environment and talking to the Internet.

The next best thing to having good ideas is recognizing good ideas from your users. Sometimes the latter is better.

Given a large enough beta-tester and co-developer base, almost every problem will be characterized quickly and the fix obvious to someone.

The workstation-class machines built by Sun and others opened up new worlds for hackers.

Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.

Thompson and Ritchie were among the first to realize that hardware and compiler technology had become good enough that an entire operating system could be written in C, and by 1978 the whole environment had been successfully ported to several machines of different types.

If Unix could present the same face, the same capabilities, on machines of many different types, it could serve as a common software environment for all of them.

To solve an interesting problem, start by finding a problem that is interesting to you.

If you have the right attitude, interesting problems will find you.

Ugly programs are like ugly suspension bridges: they're much more liable to collapse than pretty ones, because the way humans (especially engineer-humans) perceive beauty is intimately related to our ability to process and understand complexity.

In early 1993, a hostile observer might have had grounds for thinking that the Unix story was almost played out, and with it the fortunes of the hacker tribe.

Voluntary cultures that work this way are not actually uncommon; one other in which I have long participated is science fiction fandom, which unlike hackerdom explicitly recognizes egoboo (the enhancement of one's reputation among other fans) as the basic drive behind volunteer activity.

In the beginning, there were Real Programmers.

We hackers are a playful bunch; we'll hack anything, including language, if it looks like fun (thus our tropism for puns). Deep down, we like confusing people who are stuffier and less mentally agile than we are, especially when they're bosses. There's a little bit of the mad scientist in all hackers, ready to discombobulate the world and flip authority the finger — especially if we can do it with snazzy special effects.

In the U.S., blacks are 12% of the population but commit 50% of violent crimes; can anyone honestly think this is unconnected to the fact that they average 15 points of IQ lower than the general population? That stupid people are more violent is a fact independent of skin color.

We're weighed down by a crappy implementation language (C++).

Linux evolved in a completely different way. From nearly the beginning, it was rather casually hacked on by huge numbers of volunteers coordinating only through the Internet.

Why the hell hasn't wxPython become the standard GUI for Python yet?

A clash of civilizations driven by the failure of Islamic/Arab culture (though I would stress the problem of the Islamic commandment to jihad more than he does). I think he [Steven den Beste] is also right to say that our long-term objective must be to break, crush and eventually destroy this culture, because we can't live on the same planet with people who both carry those memes and have access to weapons of mass destruction. They will hate us and seek to destroy us not for what we've done but for what we are.

Lisp is worth learning for the profound enlightenment experience you will have when you finally get it; that experience will make you a better programmer for the rest of your days, even if you never actually use Lisp itself a lot.

A critical factor in its success was that the X developers were willing to give the sources away for free in accordance with the hacker ethic, and able to distribute them over the Internet.

Often, the most striking and innovative solutions come from realizing that your concept of the problem was wrong.

And for any agents or proxy of the regime interested in asking me questions face to face, IÂ’ve got some bullets slathered in pork fat to make you feel extra special welcome.[2]

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Eric S.
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American Computer Programmer, Author, Open Software Advocate, Author of "The Cathedral and the Bazaar." present maintainer of the "Jargon File" (aka "The New Hacker's Dictionary")