May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
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(slightly skeptical) Educational society promoting "Back to basics" movement against IT overcomplexity and  bastardization of classic Unix

(Slightly skeptical) Annotated Collection of Quotes
 from Eric Raymond's Letters, Articles and Interviews

News See also Recommended Books Interviews and Speaches Complete List of Relevant Quotes from CatB Messianic Marxist-style Quotes
(OSS as the bright future of mankind)
"Surprised by Wealth" Blunder "Red Flag Linux" Blunder Personal Attacks on RMS Microsoft bashing Funny Quotes Parodies

"I'm very idealistic, I want to make the world
a better place for me to live in"

from Lawyers Guns and Money

I propose a new unit of ego: The ESR. As in case of Farad more practical units would  be PicoESR. Anyway, this he is still living in his "absurdly rich"  "open source" dreamland:

At one point, Thill asks Raymond, "Is there a way that Microsoft could coexist with the open source movement?"

Raymond answers, "It's hard to see how because they're used to a level of pricing and a level of profits that can really only be sustained if you have monopoly lockout. So in that sense I don't really see how they could survive."

Eric Raymond is a very controversial figure. The author of the famous "Cathedral and Bazaar" paper is widely considered to be the leading professional (paid by VA Linux)  Linux evangelist and spokesman for the Open Source movement who actually owns controversial and very closed organization that is ironically called Open Source Software Initiave. His landmark CatB paper was widely considered as a manifesto of Open Source movement -- a corporate friendly version of GNU project. But sometimes he behaves like a preacher of some obscure cult speaking to his followers or to his enemies with emotional insults as the only available weapon. As one Slashdot reader noted:

Eric's shameless self-promotion, his emotional (and often agressive) public outbursts and his corruption of simple (but vital) ideals mean he is bad news for the Free Software community.

Sometimes he behaves like a "Libertarian commissar" making really funny statements  The latter is especially applicable to his "gun fetishism", which sometimes really looks  like "an inferiority complex" and borders with clinical sociopathy. It's sad that some people (incorrectly) connect this view with the whole community as  in March 2000 Feature The Ethics of Free Software by Bertrand Meyer:

...This advocacy of practices that directly lead to assassination and other tragedies is an example of immoral behavior. People who are callous about human life cannot and should not be hailed as moral examples, whatever the alleged generosity of their views on the far less momentous issue of software distribution. Is it right, one might ask, to make a connection between Mr. Raymond, who is only one person, and the rest of the free software community? The answer is yes, for at least three reasons:

But the most dark side of ESR personality is  long and vicious vendetta toward RMS and FSF that damaged Open Source movement and undermined the credibility of open source. Here his proud self-characterization "I am arrogant s.o.b" looks applicable.

Among Linux IPO created "new rich" he was the first to boast about his wealth (the next day after after VA Linux IPO) -- a controversial move that backfired.

In September 1998 Microsoft's "Halloween Documents", internal corporate memos, that was leaked to the public. In October they provoked  big discussion about the future of Linux and about commentaries to memos posted by Eric Raymond that (although modified later) still provide a vivid example of naive on the border of blind-fold chauvinism "Linux uber alles" propaganda and led to the introduction of the term "raymondism".  A clearly anti-CatB parody  The Circus Midget and the Fossilized Dinosaur Turd was created:

I went down to the Ethnic Quarter of the Montanan "city" I live in today, which normally consists of approximately three black people. Today, however, was different. Not only were there the normal three black people, but there were a couple of weird Europeans who had apparently gotten lost. On my way into the Cheap Legal Drugs Mart, I happened to overhear their conversation, which went approximately as follows:
"You looka at the state ofa the software industry today, my frien, anda what do you see? You see a biga ball of the shit. That'sa what you see." The other guy didn't say anything, probably because he was too busy staring at a woman across the street. Still, it got me thinking. What up with that software industry, anyway?

As I went home that night, I couldn't shake the image of the slobbering man from my mind. While I watched for the umpteenth time the Juiceman Juicer infomercial formed by a beam of electrons refreshing half the screen 60 times a second, I suddenly realized that I could make money off this concept if I went around the country making speeches about what up with that software industry. I looked at the room around me. Filled with empty beer bottles and crinkled pornography magazines dating back to the late 1970's, I realized that sinking all of my money into the simple pleasures in life brought me all the satisfaction that I ever needed.

...So that's what I have to say about software development. You wanna give me my money now? Oh, I suppose you'd expect a little more than that for ten grand. All right, I'll continue...

...So what of the dust? Ah, it is the proletariat rebellion, waiting to happen, to conquer the bourgeois beast! It is inevitable, but we can bring it on ourselves if we work hard enough. We must employ thousands of workers at equal wages to create a giant fan fit for the ages. Then, we make a solar-powered generator, which allows for the falling away of the state since we won't have to turn the crank ourselves. Then, we just sit back and relax as the winds blow the dust and blissful anarchy sets in...

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Linux Magazine January 2000 FEATURES Live Free or Die Eric S. Raymond is on a self-appointed mission to bring "software that doesn't suck" to the mainstream. by Robert McMillan

LM: Okay, enough about Bill Gates, then. What about Richard Stallman? You've known him since the early days. How did you two meet?

ESR: I met him at a science-fiction convention in late 1976. At the time he was working on Emacs. Emacs hadn't actually seen the light of day when I first met him, and I remember one of the first conversations I had with him was about this cool software that he was working on. If anybody had told me that a good portion of my life would actually turn out to be bound up with that software, I would have said they were crazy.

LM: Did you get along when you first met?

ESR: Yeah. We were pretty friendly.

LM: Did you bond on the free software thing?

ESR: No. The free software thing didn't happen until after we'd been friends for a while. In fact, there was a period of about a year-and-a-half there when I was hearing legends about this guy named RMS and I failed to connect him up with the Richard Stallman I knew.

I remember there was a moment some time in probably 1981 or early 1982 that I finally realized: "Wait a second. I know this legendary geek. He's Richard! The guy from the science-fiction convention!"

LM: How has your relationship changed over the years?

ESR: Surprisingly little, I think, because I always argued with him a lot. The difference is that ten years ago our arguments were private and nobody cared. Now they're public.

LM: What are the differences between Open Source software and Free Software?

ESR: I think intellectual property is not a bad thing. Actually, I think intellectual property is a fine thing. I think the decision to give up your ownership rights in a program or a book or any other kind of intellectual property shouldn't be based on somebody making a moral claim that owning that kind of thing is wrong.

It should be based on questions like: What's economically effective? What leads to good engineering outcomes? How do we get the best possible results?

LM: So where do you think your and Richard Stallman's philosophies merge? What do you guys have in common?

ESR: I think we both care passionately about the art of software and about the culture that we have in common.

LM: It's interesting that you don't mention freedom because I think of both of you as people who care about freedom.

ESR: Yeah. We have pretty different definitions of it, though. I'm an individualist; he is less so. I believe freedom ultimately comes down to the right to be left alone. The right to enjoy your own life and enjoy your own property and deal peacefully with others and not be messed with by people with agendas.

LM: Would you say that a lot of the terms of the GNU GPL in some ways restrict freedom, then?

ESR: That's not an argument I'm interested in having. Some people will choose to use the GPL because it fits what they want to do. I use it sometimes. Some people will choose to use other licenses because the particular kind of social engineering or community they want to set up is different. The right tool for the right job. I'm not religiously pro-GPL; I'm not religiously against it.

LM: But Stallman would argue that you need to have certain restrictions of freedom to prevent greater restrictions of freedom. Like you have to say: "All software must be freely distributable in order to ensure that nobody can take that away from you."

ESR: I'm not interested in having that argument with him. I think we have an entirely sufficient justification for open source and the GPL: solid pragmatic grounds.

Linux Today - Eric S. Raymond To Be LinuxFest2000 Opening Keynote Speaker pretty ironic "Eric S. Raymond will give his keynote speech Tuesday evening June 20, 2000 and will host a special session of 'Geeks With Guns' Wednesday morning."

Open Source is the driving force behind Linux (R), the 'hottest thing going' in both the high tech world of computers and the high rolling world of wall street. Eric S. Raymond, best selling author of 'The Cathedral & The Bazaar' and one of the leading luminaries of the Open Source Movement will also serve as the opening night keynote speaker for LinuxFest2000 to be held in Kansas City June 20-24, 2000.

Tom Peters, author of 'In Search Of Excellence' says that 'The Cathedral and The Bazaar' is.. "a witty.. inside look at the way software- which is reinventing the world - is created."

John Thompson, IBM VP points out the "Open-source development communities have delivered significant technologies that have had a profound impact on the computer industry".

Even an internal Microsoft(R) strategy document admits that "The ability of the Open-source software process to collect and harness the collective IQ's of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing."

In announcing Mr. Raymond's appearance, Greg Palmer, President Mobius Marketing, added, "A speaker of Eric's stature is a major event. Linux (R) and what it has achieved in a few short years is nothing short of revolutionary as the American Revolution paved the way for opportunity around the world, Linux is lighting the way for unbridled technological breakthroughs.

Eric S. Raymond will give his keynote speech Tuesday evening June 20, 2000 and will host a special session of 'Geeks With Guns' Wednesday morning.

Recent spectacular IPO's by Red Hat, VA Linux, Cobalt and have taken the stock market by storm and LinuxFest2000 will be the first opportunity for many in the Midwest to see what the excitement is all about.

Major well known companies like IBM, Compaq, Informix and Oracle have committed to Linux, however most people are exposed to Linux on a daily basis, because Linux powers much of the World Wide Web.

The Christian Science Monitor Electronic Edition

What's galling is that closed-source software developers have gotten away with making software without critical peer review for the past 30 years. They operate in an "ad-hocracy," where the "wheel" is reinvented daily, and the pressure to publish is far stronger than the pressure to rigorously test and debug.

I'd heard Raymond speak once before and came away with a thrilling view of a future without Microsoft even though he said nothing of the sort. Raymond was only explaining how to sell executives on open-source strategies in that talk. This time he came right out and said it:

Microsoft's business plan will fail in the first or second quarter of 2001.

O'Reilly Network An Interview with Tim O'Reilly & Eric Raymond -- pretty hypocritical and speculative stance (how about revisiting his naive "The Seven Bullets Microsoft Has to Dodge to Survive the Next 18 Months," in second half of 2001. ;-)

...Raymond: That's right, and very directly what we're discovering is that secrecy, and the kinds of closed intellectual properties that are bound up with secrecy, are not efficient. They're not an effective way to generate value in software.

...Raymond: When companies invest in a shared infrastructure, they can reap cost-efficiencies because they're not paying for the whole infrastructure if there's a whole consortium like the Apache group that's being funded by multiple corporations. Every time somebody joins that gang, the costs for everybody go down and benefits go up.

...Raymond: Yeah. I like Gilmore's quote about the Internet interpreting censorship as damage and routing around it. These days I like to generalize it to: The Internet interprets attempts at proprietary control as damage and routes around it.

Raymond: Yeah, actually I think that's going to turn around and bite Microsoft very badly in the near future. I'm giving a section of my talk nowadays called "The Seven Bullets Microsoft Has to Dodge to Survive the Next 18 Months," and I think of those the most difficult for them to dodge is the basic contradiction in their business model between the fact that their revenues have to rise every quarter to sustain their option program, and the fact that hardware prices are plummeting. That puts an intolerable margin squeeze on their hardware OEM standard. I think we're mirroring the point where those OEMs are going to revolt.

...Raymond: Well, your listeners deserve to know that I'm on the board of directors of V.A. Linux, and in theory I made a lot of money from that IPO, so they should listen to what I say knowing that and taking it into account however they like. My personal view is that I don't think all this money coming in is going to make a major difference to the development model or the dynamics of the community. And the reason I'm confident about that is because demand for programmers has been intense for a very long time, for over a decade. I think that all the people who could be seriously distracted by money are already gone.

Sims: Well, given what you just said, Eric, is it unrealistic to expect an MS-Linux?

"I am fairly sure that there is already, however, a Linux-portable Office. I have some intelligence from inside Microsoft that strongly suggests that." -- Eric Raymond

Raymond: That is not something I feel like I have a good answer to. I am fairly sure that there is already, however, a Linux-portable Office. I have some intelligence from inside Microsoft that strongly suggests that, and it also makes sense for that to exist already if the people at Microsoft are smart enough to see that there's a wreck coming in their operating systems business -- and I think they are that smart.

Slashdot Features Microsoft -- Designed for Insecurity -- To put this article in proper perspective please remember that Eric S. Raymond is a member of the VA Linux board of directors, and Slashdot is owned by VA Linux. It is also useful to remember that while Microsoft has it's problems, the whole closed source/open source debate is not that simplistic. It's a pretty complex question. For example the fact is that most "Open Source" products are distributed as pre-compiled binaries, and not the source itself. Therefore the question about how many people they were reviewed is an interesting question in sense that some of this people may be reviewed it to find holes and may be not screaming to reveal them to the unsuspecting public. The latter question has absolutely nothing to do with open source vs. proprietary -- in fact, open source is more vulnerable to this problem, because the users have a false sense of security from the fact that they theoretically have access to the source code, and believe that it what is actually executing on the machine without further verification is the code that was reviewed by somebody for security holes which may be or may be not the case.

Good Points? No, Same Points
by Patman ([email protected]) on Saturday April 15, @07:15PM EST (#24)
(User Info)

I believe in Open Source. More importantly, I believe in the inherent security involved with OPen Source.
However, I don't believe that we need to be kissing Eric S Raymond's ass. C'mon, this article said nothing new about security, or open source, or anything. Maybe if he'd brought up some new points, or had given new examples of how the Open Source movement had helped.Rather, we get vague notions of how it would maybe do something. I like ESR as much as the next guy, but I don't think his OPen Source work should give him a /. soapbox.

My two cents.

The Linux community should not revert to FUD!
by mdb31 on Saturday April 15, @07:22PM EST (#43)
(User Info)

This article annoys me to no end. First of all, as has already been pointed out, there is no backdoor: the only thing that happened is that someone managed to get access to a poorly secured site and alerted every major newswire to the 'backdoor' he found before checking whether one actuall existed.

Stripped of all the hype, the worst thing to come out of this is that, apparently, the string "Netscape engineers are weenies!!", reversed, is used in an obsolete version of a Microsoft support DLL (which, BTW, may have its roots in non-Microsoft legacy FrontPage code...) as a 'secret' to 'encrypt' web pages in transit. This is definitely a bad security design (as well as childish), but in this case it happens not to hurt anybody (except perhaps the ego of the few remaining Netscape engineers :-)

The kicker in this article is the claim that there would never be anything like this in the "BIND library" -- well, the library might not have any issues, but BIND itself sure has been the source of a number of root exploits so far, and there is no guarantee whatsoever that this won't happen again in the future

FUD should not become a standard for Linux advocacy...

Re:on and off topic- Regarding the above posts. (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 15, @07:32PM EST (#66)

Don't think of them as trolls, think of them as outraged users who are fed up with the blatent one-sidedness of the editors. Why all the linux linux hip hip hooray, but never a look at the downward trends or the negative. As long as we can't talk about that without a -1, you'll be seeing more and more of 'The VA Linux Message'

Re:on and off topic- Regarding the above posts. (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 16, @01:36AM EST (#376)

Lesseee --

Bind exploit -- not posted on Slashdot, even though readers are supposedly using Bind

WUFTP exploit -- not posted on Slashdot, even though readers are supposedly using WUFTP

False IIS exploit -- posted on Slashdot before it was confirmed, even though readers are supposedly not using IIS.

News for Nerds, Stuff about Microsoft that we don't like That Matters!!!

VA L inux Tanks, Eric Raymond WANKS (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 15, @07:24PM EST (#53)

CNET Sour market pushes Linux stocks below IPO price
by Jeff Alami - Fri, 14 Apr 2000 02:14:13pm

"The dour mood on Wall Street has dragged three Linux company stocks below their initial public offering prices, and others aren't far behind.

"Linux seller Caldera Systems, which debuted at $14 a share in its IPO less than a month ago, closed regular trading today at $9.56, down 11 percent. Andover.Net, the collection of Linux and programming Web sites that launched in December at $18 a share, closed at $10.13, down nearly a third. And VA Linux Systems, the Linux computer maker whose $30 IPO price soared a record 697 percent to close at $239.25 on its opening day, today sank to $28.94, a drop of 19 percent.

"The market hammered all technology stocks this week, but it's not unusual for prices to settle after an IPO spike. The Linux stock slide has been going on for months. Still, the continuing decline will likely force investors to revisit the ongoing debate surrounding Linux: How does one make money from software that can be obtained for free?"

Halloween V -- a nice example of Raymondism (bold italic is mine and contains typical insults and standard exaggerated pro-Linux slogans).

In a March 4, 1999, PCWeek Online article, "Microsoft Exec dissects Linux's 'weak value proposition,'" Sheriff Ed demonstrates the combination of straining at gnats and swallowing camels we've come to expect from Microsoft spinmeisters. We get to hear the "no applications" FUD -- a tough one to sustain, given that the likes of Corel and Oracle and SAP are on board with Linux. We get to hear "no long-term development roadmap" from the company that can't seem to decide how many versions of Windows 9x will intrude between now and the much-delayed promised land of Windows 2000.

We also get some whining about "lack of fairness in media coverage," which appears to be Microsoft-speak for "the trade press isn't behaving like our poodles anymore." But the funniest thing in the interview is this: "...someone wants me to believe these visionary programmers and developers will want to do the best work of their lives and then give it away. I do not believe in that vision of the future."

What Sheriff Ed doesn't get is that this is a vision of the present. Linux is where it is today because thousands of "visionary programmers and developers" have already made this choice, and are reaffirming it every day. Even scarier (from Microsoft's point of view), capitalism and the hacker gift culture are learning how to complement and support each other; that, at bottom, is what all the hoopla at LinuxWorld Conference & Expo last week was about.

Even scarier (from
Microsoft's point
of view), capitalism
and the hacker gift
culture are learning
how to complement
and support each

But most notable of all about this article are the things Sheriff Ed didn't say. He didn't claim that NT is more robust than Linux. He didn't claim that NT performs better than Linux running Microsoft's own SMB file-and-print sharing service. He didn't even claim that NT is outgrowing Linux in the server market.

Surprised by Wealth Blunder

[Dec. 10, 1999] Open Source Rich Opens Mouth

Raymond was granted 150,000 share options at a strike price of less than four cents apiece, according to SEC filings, for a value of about $32 million as of midday Friday.

But Raymond will not be able to cash in any shares for at least six months, thanks to SEC rules, and his public disclosure may have put his shares in jeopardy, according to one source close to the company.

As a non-employee director, Raymond's shares vest over a four-year period, dependent on him remaining on the board. Raymond's status comes up for review at the annual meeting of stockholders in 2001, according to SEC papers.

"They're pissed," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous.

[Dec. 10, 1999] Slashdot Interviews ESR Writes on Surprised By Wealth The latest stance Linux Today - Eric S. Raymond -- Surprised By Wealth backfires and ESR got a lot of ridicule from the OSS community.

The latest stance Linux Today - Eric S. Raymond -- Surprised By Wealth provide a lot of ridicule from the OSS community:

A few hours ago, I learned that I am now (at least in theory) absurdly rich.

I was at my machine, hacking, when I got email congratulating me on the success of the VA Linux Systems IPO. I was working on my latest small project -- a compiler for a special-purpose language I've designed called Scriptable Network Graphics, or SNG. SNG is an editable representation of the chunk data in a PNG. What I'm writing is a compiler/decompiler pair, so you can dump PNGs in SNG, edit the SNG, then recompile to a PNG image.

...Besides, it wouldn't be fair to dissemble. I serve a community. I'm wealthy today because my efforts to spread the idea of open source on behalf of that community helped galvanize the business world, and earned the respect and the trust of a lot of hackers. Larry thought that respect was an asset worth shelling out 150,000 shares of VA for. Fairness to the hackers who made me bankable demands that I publicly acknowledge this result -- and publicly face the question of how it's going to affect my life and what I'll do with the money.

...I will be wealthy in six months, unless VA or the U.S. economy craters before then. I'll bet on VA; I'm not so sure about the U.S. economy :-).

...But enough trivialities; I'm going to get back to work. I've got the SNG compiler stage almost done. Next up, I need to refactor the pngcheck code so I can give it a report-format option that generates SNG syntax. Then, I need to think about supporting MNG...

. A typical reaction was:

John Hebert - Subject: ESR: Crackpot revolutionary-type :) ( Dec 10, 1999,13:17:25 )

It seems that some quarters would consider ESR almost a political revolutionary viewed from the old corporate/capitalist paradigm. I find it extremely amusing and optimistic that the most vocal open source spokesperson eschews non-materialistic values. I don't think this particular article will be reprinted in the industry rags however. The message is a little too volatile.

Namaste, ESR.

Claudio - Subject: Bloated ( Dec 12, 1999, 02:49:27 )

A bloated ego - now with a bloated wallet.
But when he asks the magic mirror who is the most handsome in the free software community, the answer is always the same: ____ (for once, Eric didn't mention him, so I won't either...)

See also Open source Rich Opens Mouth. Some other quotes:

Va's stock opened at 300 and only dropped from there so every single person who invested in it and was not holding primary market(IPO) stock at 30 LOST MONEY! VA and the brokers made obscene amounts of money but it was taken from the hands of investors. Va's brokers successfully took the market for billions. This is not a good thing. Not for the investors, the market, or linux. Is this what we set out to do? Rip people off? ps. No sour grapes here. I didn't invest or lose any money.

It seems to me that surprise wealth is almost always unearned wealth. Be it from a lottery ticket, from being a Linux shill brought online in an IPO for being a loud talker, what-have-you... People don't suddenly become millionaires by earning the money through work.

Really rich? (Score:2)
by TheDullBlade on Friday December 10, @09:40AM EST (#116)
(User Info)
"will be rich in 6 months" - don't bet the farm on it.

This is a clear symptom of the bubble economy. Bubbles pop, sooner or later they always do, and six months is a long time. VA Linux Systems does not have anywhere near the value of its opening price, let alone the insane heights it's climbed to.

This kind of thing is the result of the boom of irresponsible day traders, who happily play their weird little monetary equivalent of chicken.

In essense, it is a sophisticated, unconsciously orchestrated on a massive scale, scam which steals from naive investors. The real pros are already out, having made their fortune, since the stock has peaked. They may play it again some day, but the real feeding frenzy is over. The losers are the people who bought high and are already stuck with stocks that will almost certainly never again reach the price they paid for it. They've already lost it, and it may not be long before they realize that and all dump their stocks trying to minimize their loss. This stock could crash as quickly as it rose.

Faint still, but louder and louder every day I hear the world say what I am thinking: tech stocks are grossly overvalued, get out while you can. Sooner or later, the rest of the world is going to listen.

Tech Stock Valuations (Score:1)
by lwilliams on Friday December 10, @10:29AM EST (#166)
(User Info)
TheDullBlade wrote "This kind of thing is the result of the boom of irresponsible day traders, who happily play their weird little monetary equivalent of chicken."
While this might be true with individual stocks, much of the "Long Boom" in the stock market is actually caused by two things:
1. Macroeconomic factors.
2. The diversification of stock ownership through retirement/401K plans.
Many have underestimated the effect that that massive jolt of money coming into the market each Friday has on the market as a whole.
However, this does point out another risk: More and more Americans have their retirement savings primarily in stock. If your predictions of a "bubble economy" are right (and plenty of economists agree with you), then many "average guy/gal"s have their retirement savings at risk.
Re:Really rich? (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 10, @10:29AM EST (#167)
Faint still, but louder and louder every day I hear the world say what I am thinking: tech stocks are grossly overvalued, get out while you can. Sooner or later, the rest of the world is going to listen.

Not sure if I agree. A stock's value is what people are willing to pay for it - nothing more, nothing less.

That means VA is worth $236 a share right now, regardless of any fundamentals.

Fundamentals typically impact a stock in the long run, but for short term investing (~ 1 year), you can certainly chuck them out the window.

Re:Really rich? (Score:2)
by King Babar on Friday December 10, @12:08PM EST (#234)
(User Info)

"will be rich in 6 months" - don't bet the farm on it. This is a clear symptom of the bubble economy. Bubbles pop, sooner or later they always do, and six months is a long time. VA Linux Systems does not have anywhere near the value of its opening price, let alone the insane heights it's climbed to.

You're absolutely right, except for two things:

  1. Even if VA Linux Systems shares lose 97% of their value in the next 6 months, then ESR is still worth more than a million bucks.
  2. VA Linux Systems can use their high stock price to acquire firms that have real value before the bubble bursts, so their business case right now is less relevant than it was before the IPO

That said, I'm still afraid that VA will get wiped off the face of the earth. :-/

Red Flag Linux Blunder

[Nov. 11, 1999] Linux Today Eric S. Raymond -- Communist China adopts Linux Not so, apparently... The original news story is Linux becomes people's choice in China. See also Slashdot Articles ESR Dismisses PRC Official Linux Poor Libertarian commissar is under the delusion that China is "communist" (the country is no longer even Maoist after Chairman Deng started to promote his famous perestroyka-style slogan "A good cat is the one that can catch mouse, no matter she is white or black"); the encouraging sign is that this time the level of ERS's understanding of Marxism is significantly higher :-). Now it seems that he (while probably still "implacably hostile to all forms of Marxism and socialism") is able to site the slogan: "from each according to his ability, to his each according to his need" and understand that this is a Marxist slogan ;-). Moreover he managed imitate the style of the newspaper Pravda (Marxist demagogy) with catch-phrases like "vicious and cynical fraud", "bloody-handed" (this is 100% authentic Pravda ;-), "genuinely revolting and insulting to all of us", "murderous government ", "atrocities against its own people"(this is also100% authentic Pravda ;-):

"Any "identification" between the values of the open-source community and the repressive practices of Communism is nothing but a vicious and cynical fraud..."

There are a few of us who have a soft spot for the theoretical Communist ideal of "from each according to his ability, to his each according to his need"; but I am certain that even that minority would not care to be associated with the totalitarian and murderous government of Communist China -- unrepentant perpetrators of numerous atrocities against its own people."

"But the prospect of being "identified" with the bloody-handed gerontocrats behind the Tianamen Squaremassacre would be, I believe, genuinely revolting and insulting to all of us."

Here is the relevant fragment:

...In the past, I have avoided presuming to speak for the whole Linux community. This time, however, I think I may safely say that this news will come as a vast relief to all of us. Insofar as it has politics at all, the open-source movement promotes freedom, increased choice, and *voluntary* cooperation. Any "identification" between the values of the open-source community and the repressive practices of Communism is nothing but a a vicious and cynical fraud.

There are a few of us who have a soft spot for the theoretical Communist ideal of "from each according to his ability, to his each according to his need"; but I am certain that even that minority would not care to be associated with the totalitarian and murderous government of Communist China -- unrepentant perpetrators of numerous atrocities against its own people.

It may be too much to hope that this statement will head off a flurry of snide opinion pieces divagating about "open-source communism"; the clumsy rhetoric of some of our past ambassadors may have made that outcome inevitable. But the prospect of being "identified" with the bloody-handed gerontocrats behind the Tianamen Square massacre would be, I believe, genuinely revolting and insulting to all of us.

No matter that such official Chinese government sponsorship might add a quarter of the planet's population to our user base; if this is "world domination", we'll want none of it.

The discussion on LinuxToday contains several interesting comments. Among them I would like to single out:

Anonymous Coward - Subject: I OPPOSE FRANCE FROM ASSOCIATING WITH OPEN SOURCE (Nov 11, 1999, 05:39:31 )

A long time ago, a bunch of people were BRUTALLY BEHEADED in FRANCE! I forget when exactly, but IT'S WELL-DOCUMENTED in HISTORY BOOKS!!! BOYCOTT FRANCE!!!

*sigh* I concede that I must congratulate ZDNet. This was brilliantly well-crafted bait for the "righteous, freedom loving, free software crowd". They took a boring press release, sprinkled in some Red China Commie Scare, and whipped up thick FUD like only ZDNet knows how. Look at the results here and on Slashdot. They scored a home run. They got hundreds of readers not even bothering to fact-check the story, but instead tied them up with endless knee jerk babble about Communism, China, etc. (And most of them have never been to China or understand any of its history or even what's happening in the country today!)

Get a grip. Move along. Nothing to see here.

The comment of Darrel Yurychuk:

Newsflash: Apparently the rumour that free and open elections will soon take place in communist China turned out to be false. I think I speak for all democratically minded people around the world, when I say I am relieved -- thankfully democracy won't be associated with such an oppressive regime.

Linux and free/open source software do everything to undermine communism and promote the adoption of more democratic ideals. We should be doing everything possible to encourage it's adoption in communist China and in other non-democratic nations.

Eric's comment has more to say about his own personal fear of being labelled a communist. Who cares if people associate the free/open source movement with communism. We know it's all about freedom and democracy. To act as a spokesperson for a movement sometimes means rising above the petty politics and name calling that will inevitably take place.

The comment of Jose Estrada:

ESR, you *really* need a lesson in freedom and government. Your terribly provincial views (espoused by many of your US 'libertarian' compatriots) continues to shock those of us who live outside of the United States/Northern Europe.

Why should _you_ care if China adopts Linux as an 'Official OS'? What makes this so much different from a government's decision to adopt the Metric/ISO system? (Which many Americans feel is 'communist' and 'New-World-Orderish', dictated by the United Nations to enslave free 'Americans')

Do you realize that it is *your* country, government and business (yes, the free market Randite capitalists) that often are in collusion with corrupt, elite, oppressive 'third-world' governments? Oh wait, they're right-wing, anti-communist and market-oriented. Well, you must feel that's alright then.

Having lost my free-thinking family members to Pinochet thugs, and observing the American support (esp. Reagan) of our former dictator, I am continually SICKENED by the double standards and double speak of Americans like yourself.

I have absolutely no sympathy for the totalitarian and anti-humanitarian government in China; however, this applies to both left-wing and right-wing, communist or market-driven governments.


BTW, you 'freedom' oriented Americans ought to remember a few things: Native Americans, WWII Japanese internment camps, slavery/black Americans, support for right-wing totalitarian governments. Too dated? Try the abuse of power and political influence of US corporations. Ever read Thomas Jefferson or your Constitution lately?

Significantly, other countries don't throw around the 'F'-word with disdain as Americans such as ESR do.

Karl Juhnke - Subject: Gratitutious China Bashing (Nov 11, 1999, 05:33:11 )

Living in "Communist China" has given me an opportunity to witness the ill effects of totalitarian government a little more directly than I could by reading newswire snippets and watching CNN. The Chinese government does indeed squelch, at times violently, freedom of religion and freedom of speech, which harms the Chinese people in many ways direct and indirect.

I have, however, also witnessed enough to abhor exaggerated anti-China rhetoric of the type found in Mr. Raymond's article. The situation in China is complex and changing rapidly, neither of which can be inferred from Mr. Raymond's simple denunciations of the "totalitarian and murderous government" and "bloody-handed gerontocrats". While the situation is still deplorable, the people of China have more freedom today than they have had at any time in the recent past.

Linux is a phenomenon that a totalitarian government can't well predict or control. The Chinese government could probably not, for example, displace free Linux while its own "state-approved" version, nor are there any indications that it will try to do so. For the Chinese government to begin using Linux to any extent is rather an admission of yet another unpredictable aspect of modern society which they had better accept.

Chinese adoption of Linux would, at least in my humble opinion, not only work to strengthen Linux, but also give the Chinese people one more degree of freedom. Mr. Raymond is apparently too concerned with distancing himself from communism to admit these positive pontentialities.

-Karl Juhnke

Here is an opinion of a communist

Dave H. - Subject: Linux IS consistent with communist principles... (Nov 11, 1999, 08:33:47 )

...that's one very important reason why it's so great! Raymond is a fool for trying to distance himself from this, and a bastard for presuming that he can speak this way on behalf of the Linux community.

Linux is morally superior software because it has not been built on the backs of exploited workers hacking away under duress in their cubicles. Really, Linux is a great model for how to do communism properly--how a great product can arise out of work that people want to do and are prepared to share. It would be quite smart of China to officially back Linux; hell, like every country, they need software. Lining the pockets Microsoft, the incarnation of their ideological antithesis, seems hard to justify politically.

If China were to officially back Linux the way the capitalist government in South Korea does, I'm sure we'd see some elaborate red propaganda slogans, and dumb people in this country (US) will not like them (I am thinking of ESR in particular, and the rest of those on whose "behalf" he really speaks). But why don't we just face it: the growth of Linux follows perfectly Marx's outline of how value will be produced after the people take power away from the corporations. And--look: it's a great operating system!

I just wish we could live in a world where my pants, car and computer could be produced under the same sort of conditions--that is, people volunteering their time in order to do the right thing. Now come on, who DOESN'T agree? If you don't, maybe you should re-think why you are rooting for Linux in the first place.

David Horacek

HalloweenMemo-related and other Microsoft Bashing

Linux Today An Interview with Eric S. Raymond -- Halloween anniversary interview ;-)

...The Linux-Windows rivalry now has center stage. Has the competition with Microsoft's current OS (and the coming battle for the desktop) preempted discussion of the next generation of applications - what form they'll take, how they'll be deployed and used, and what support they'll need at the OS level?

I don't think so. As I observed earlier, one of our strengths is that we have enough smart people to try everything. Many people are focusing on competing with Microsoft. Many other people are doing other things.

...Is this question on the Linux community's agenda? Is there a risk that Linux will win the current battle only to be outflanked in the next one?

I don't think so. It's hard to outflank an incoming tide

...How do you view Sun's recently announced plan to publish the source for Solaris? How badly will "community licensing" hamper developers (and Sun) in realizing potential benefits? Will Sun wind up having to open up their licensing model to ensure Solaris' survival?

Yes, I think so. It's clear that the open-source community simply won't cooperate on Sun's terms. It's been clear since the Jini-related debut of the SCSL, actually. Until true open-sourcing of Solaris, Linux will continue to relentlessly erode Solaris's market share from the low end up.

...You've talked about some of the hackers you admire. What about poets, philosophers, theorists, activists? Who has inspired you? Who has shaped your thinking - especially with respect to the epic you're living now?

Robert Heinlein (a science-fiction writer who taught me to cherish freedom and stick to my guns, both figuratively and literally). Thomas Jefferson (revolutionary). C. S. Peirce, Alfred Korzybski, Ayn Rand, Bertrand Russell (philosophers). Clifford Stoll and Robin Williams (subversive comedians who taught me how to work a crowd). Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, Linus Torvalds, Richard Stallman (hackers). The Twelve Patriarchs of Zen Buddhism.

...Aside from the leverage it gives you as an Open Source evangelist, has the uptick in your name recognition had any upside for you personally - changed your thinking, refocused your values, presented you with people and situations that led you to hack your identity in ways you might not have otherwise?

The obvious upside is that it's given me some actual leverage on changing the world. And I do get to meet a lot of interesting people I wouldn't have known otherwise. Much less importantly, it looks likely to make me rather wealthy.

Whether it's led me to "hack my identity" is an interesting question. I've done a lot of that in the past, had to re-invent myself a couple times while growing up. Over the last eighteen months, though? I don't really think so. I've learned or sharpened a lot of skills related to communications and PR, but I feel like much the same guy I was when I wrote "The Cathedral and the Bazaar."

The Christian Science Monitor Electronic Edition

ZDNN Linux guru 'MS fall has already begun'

ZDNN: Wouldn't you want to take over the desktop?

...I think that's an interesting story in the near to medium term but right now the story is that we've already taken over the Internet -- next we're going to take over the business server farms. After we've got the business server farms, then we've got think about the pushing at the desktop....

ZDNN: So when will you consider that you've 'won'?

Well, when Linux's server market share goes over fifty per cent -- or when Microsoft's stock price crashes, whichever comes first. And again let me interpret that: I'm not saying that Microsoft's stock price crashing is the goal, but when it does, the resistance to doing things right goes away.... The Cathedral and the Bizarre -- ESR's Microsoft visit

Last week TechWeb reported that Eric S. Raymond was invited to speak to a Microsoft Research Group. Given Raymond's status in the Open Source Community, this is somewhat akin to the Vatican asking Martin Luther to pay a visit in 1517 and chat about the note that he left.

Q: Was anybody belligerent at you?

A: Yes, there were a few belligerent people. It was kind of amusing, really, fielding brickbats from testosterone-pumped twentysomethings for whom money and Microsoft's survival are so central that they have trouble grasping that anyone can truly think outside that box. I heard later that a lot of the really defensive ones were from the NT 2000 development group. Poor bastards -- even some of the most notorious Microsoft sycophants in the trade press have noticed that it's D.O.A.

Interviews and speeches

...Beyond pursuing a technical passion, why are people willing to work on open-source software?

There are lots of motivations. One is what I call "going for the glory." The open-source world is fiercely competitive. People like being part of a community in which they compete for their peers' esteem. People want to believe that they're working -- and competing -- with the best people in their field. I routinely deal with people who are the best programmers in the world. If you're working for a company, you might measure yourself against a few hundred colleagues. If you're working on a piece of open-source code, you might measure yourself against thousands of people all over the world.

We do keep score in the open-source world. It's just that more people focus on earning the esteem of their peers than on getting a bigger office. But even in an "esteem culture," people need to keep track of who's doing good work and who isn't. Our scoreboard is the "credit list" or the "history file" that's attached to every open-source project. If you do something important to advance a piece of code, that goes on the record and becomes part of the project's history for all time. If you see somebody's name on several credit lists, then you know that person is doing lots of good work.

It's an old idea, really. People who study primate societies make a distinction between two kinds of cultural interactions, agonic and hedonic. In agonic societies, you gain status by asserting dominance over others. In hedonic societies, you gain status by drawing attention to yourself. Open source is a hedonic culture.

...For now, though, most open-source work is still volunteer labor. Isn't there still an assumption among the business establishment that if money is not involved, a product can't be rigorous?

If there is, it's a bad assumption. I certainly care about a world in which people do meaningful work. But the real point of the exercise is to develop the best software possible. And in most of the ways that matter, the open-source model is more disciplined and more rigorous than the traditional approach to creating software. The open-source model gets you better software.

One of the core practices used in open-source software is peer review: Because everyone can see the code, everyone can see your work. One obvious benefit of peer review is that mistakes get caught sooner. I call this Linus's Law, after Linus Torvalds: "With enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow." If literally thousands of people are accessing a piece of code, each one eagerly looking for a nasty bug to fix, it's no surprise that mistakes get caught quickly.

Peer review also prevents fewer mistakes from being made in the first place. It changes how people approach their work. It changes the level of care that they take. If you know that thousands of people will be scrutinizing your work and that the errors you make will almost certainly be spotted, and if you care about your reputation, then you take great pains to create error-free work. That is different from the way people work in closed systems -- the way most companies function. Those people usually spend much of their time shifting blame for the errors that they make.

...Lately, you've been speaking at major conferences and visiting some big companies. How are established business leaders reacting to the open-source phenomenon?

I'm seeing both more intelligence and more inertia than I thought I would. The executives I've spent time with inside some of the big companies are "getting" the idea more quickly than I expected them to. I thought the real battle would be for them to get comfortable with the concepts, and, once they did, they'd be quick to act. But, in fact, just the opposite has been true....

Slashdot Articles ESR Interview in Fast Company Magazine

Go get a real job, Eric. (Score:1, Insightful)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, @12:49PM EST (#34)
In the very first line he says "You can't motivate the best people with money." Well, Eric, prove that you can't motivate the best people with money. If you can't demonstrate that's true, then you are wrong. If I can demonstrate that the best people can be motivated by money, then you are wrong. You're wrong. Then he talks about passion, and how there's a new kind of passion on the face of the earth lately. Well, demonstrate that this is true while you're at it. If you can't demonstrate it, then you're wrong again. And you are wrong, again. It's easy to fool a lot of the people, Eric, but you simply can't fool those of us who know that you didn't invent the idea that the world's best and the world's rest-of-us have been passionate since time immemorial about what we do with our lives, about what we create and about earning as much money as we can for doing it, including writing great software during the last 50 years. Even my seven-year-old son would be able to see past the juvenile bullshit that ESR spreads all over the place, if he were exposed to it. Gang, the real world works a lot better than ESR imagines it does, and is filled with people who are a lot more motivated, passionate and proud of their work than he portrays that they are. Open Source did not build this world. It was build by many generations of people who could teach ESR a very great deal about passion, quality, dedication and WORK. Open Source is only what it is, and it is no more something new in history than the Age of Aquarius turned out to be - just a quaint little idea that the simple-minded grabbed on to for a little while. Y'all can do better than to keep trying to cream your shorts with the shallow rhetoric of this leprechaun.
I'll say it for ya in simple terms (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, @06:23PM EST (#67)
When someone, ESR included, asserts something, then he owes us either logic or examples to back it up. When anyone, me included, evaluates that assertion, they are entitled to view the logic that is the foundation of the assertion and/or examples that support it. These are supplied by (surprise!) the person making the assertion. That's the way it works in a sane (as in rational, logical, ordered, predictable) world. In an upsidedown world, the one ESR thrives in, and the one you seem to prefer, there is no such requirement of logic or example as the foundation for any assertion. There is, instead, a responsibility thrust by every person making whatever assertion they choose upon every person who is exposed to that assertion to get to work disproving it. In this world, it is up to everyone who is not an open source fanatic to prove that open source does not work, and that everything ESR says is bologna. Well, I choose to live in the first world, one of logic and one where "if you say it, you better back it up". You cannot taunt me into choosing to live in a world where it is up to me to expose the bogus nature of all the unfounded assertions that ESR makes. ESR often says that all software that is not open source "sucks". I'll be goddamned if I'll spend one minute of my life proving he's wrong. He has the burden of proving that he's right. And of course he's full of shit. Do you think you understand this any better now? and, its "etc.", not "ect". "etc" is an abbreviation for "et cetera", which is Latin for "and the rest".
Hobgobblins In My Underwear (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, @01:21PM EST (#38)
Working on my airy titles. Devoid of meaning. Ripe for interpretation. Will you moderate me down?

Here is a basic question that perhaps someone a bit more fundamentalist about OSS can answer for me.

What are the bounds of practicality of open source software?

The companies that have been cited as the prime examples of OSS did not and do not make any money from software. They are hardware companies, service companies, or companies that hemmorage VC money.

Is it only these types of enterprises which the OSS model espoused by ESR applies?

After re-reading ESR's CatB and TMC, I have to wonder about the practicality of it to anyone but these very specific types of organizations. ESR doesn't want to answer this; an honest answer would serverely limit his speaking audience, so I put it to you.

  • What kinds of companies will benefit by embracing OSS?
  • What kinds of companies will not benefit by embracing OSS?
  • Can the support model be applied to end-users or is it only of practicality to corporations?

On a personal level OSS makes a ton of sense. Alas, the practicalities of acquiring food and shelter require the exchange of money for a large part of my work.

Perhaps most of the commenters here are college students and sysadmins. If that's the case then this question isn't for you.

ESR - please add "chaordic" to your jargon file (Score:1)
by zerone ([email protected]) on Wednesday October 20, @02:27PM EST (#43)
(User Info)
"the value of a company in the future will be tied to how much value it can offer people on the outside, rather than how much value it can extract from people on the outside. In other words, can companies make it fun, interesting, challenging, and rewarding for people who are not their employees to contribute their time and ideas?"

Huh? Sounds like companies will still need to "extract value" from people on the "outside". Sounds kinda tricky. If a company wants me to contribute time and ideas, it better share some "ownership". How?

example: VISA. ($1.2 trillion in sales last year.) It's an info-age corporation with 30 years experience, growing 20% every year past booms bubbles busts bear bulls. No IPO's, take-overs, buy-outs, trade-outs, shake-outs, raids. Why? It's owned by its members. Shared in "non-transferable rights of participation". Dee Hock, who founded VISA, wanted to extend ownership to merchants and cardholders, but it wasn't possible at the time. Had it been, he believes it would be four times more powerful today.

Key to Visa's success is chaos/organized *open* structure that attracts the by far most valuable (and least used) resource on earth: human ingenuity. call it "chaorganization". read about it here here here

Re:Houston, we might have a problem (Score:2)
by Chris Johnson ([email protected]) on Wednesday October 20, @09:38PM EST (#73)
(User Info)
Hey, I have always been first to loudly insist that nothing could ever hurt GPLed development. I don't like it any more than you do, but I am questioning some of your assumptions. In particular, I am questioning whether poorer software would necessarily lead to less success. I'm questioning whether such a hijacking maneuver could be damaging, most significantly to the mainstream acceptance of open source. And I am questioning whether giving away a major tactical advantage to corporate 'individuals' is remotely healthy considering that those are the people patenting everything they possibly can.
I never said, or suggested, that such a 'hijacking' would stop free software development entirely. I am saying that there's a danger that such a hijacking, combined with determined pursuit of all possible patents, could have two major effects:
  • "Linux" would mean 'MS' linux or whoever gains the upper hand as a corporation
  • Free software development could be forced not only into obscurity but entirely underground, because on the one hand improper patents can be bought that would prevent public/official work on entire areas of computing, and on the other hand a 'fake Linux' could be produced by hijacking, to confuse the public and _stop_ any inroads that Linux might be making.

If I was Microsoft, and I could be reasonably certain that the GPL applied not to individuals but only to the corporate entity, I would immediately take the opportunity to produce a Linux that was bundled with a great deal of proprietary software- which offered interfaces to Windows APIs. I'd get IE working on it, I'd bundle Office with it, I'd do everything possible to make it THE distribution to have around. The most important factor of this embrace and extend would not be the making an IE for linux- it would be making APIs available at all costs, and dumping the product on the market at a total loss to make damn sure that anybody who wants to make software for 'Linux' would be able to simply write software for Windows and then tell people to use a _particular_ Linux- MS linux! because that was the only 'compatible' version.
It worked great for OS/2, and it will work great again. If you don't see the problem here... I don't know. I admit I don't share ESR's enthusiasm to co-assimilate with corporations and big business. As such, I am naturally more concerned at the prospect of a 'protected' way to completely debase the principle of free (libre) software and enable well-heeled corporations to exert added control on the market and the industry.
It seems to me that a risk like this needs to be properly evaluated and taken seriously, and I'm one of the people formerly most fond of saying 'there's nothing to worry about, we have the GPL don't we?'. So many assumptions- that productivity is the only consideration, that 'cathedral' will automatically produce crap that is less robust, that Microsoft's testing process is worse than the distributed Linux bazaar (there are some serious omissions in Linux debugging, such as usability testing), that a heavily funded branded commercial Linux would _not_ damage the Linux market and cause intentional confusion in the mind of the customer... I appreciate the goodvibes but am not convinced. We'll see. And if Microsoft reads this and does what I outlined, they can test out whether the Microsoft Corporation really can move faster than the Open Source Movement. But faster or not- given that sort of opportunity, do you think they cannot take advantage of it, or produce massive success even if they have to half bribe people to do it and half make it all up?

Houston, cancel that (Score:0)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 20, @07:46PM EST (#70)
In fact, this is just another example of the GPL doing its job.
  1. RMS has said many times that the right to modify software in private is one of the essential freedoms of free software.
  2. Excessively closed development of free software is a self-correcting problem. When the GCC developers were not releasing frequently enough, people started a new line of development. The open branch (egcs) won much more developer support. When FSF GCC releases were made, they were merged into the open branch.
  3. The scenario you describe could be a nice model for commercial development of free software. The closed developer could capitalize on its temporary advantage in understanding of its changes, until the open development community became familiar with them. If this means we get more free software, I'm all for it.
  4. If Microsoft is bent on creating a schism in Linux, secret development may be part of their plan. But marketing and bullying will be bigger factors.
  5. Even if Microsoft manages to make their fork of Linux so overwhelmingly popular that the current mainline linux loses all momentum, it's still free software.


Re:Houston, we might have a problem (Score:1)
by Chalst ( on Thursday October 21, @01:47PM EST (#76)
(User Info)
I am quite sure you are right about companies being able to work on a new distribution `behind company walls' so to speak. My understanding is that while an employee is working under contract, he/she is considered to be an `organ' of the company, and legally identified with the company under normal circumstances.

So I think the sketch you draw is legally plausible. Pragmatically, I think it isn't believable: it supposes that MS can permanently stay two steps ahead of the field with every release (implying a massive development effort at perpetual risk of being wrongstepped by the open source community), whose revenue model is profoundly breached by free redistribution.

Media, Open Source, and the Scientific Community. (Score:1)
by sh_mmer on Wednesday October 20, @05:22PM EST (#65)
(User Info)
interesting that raymond is so quick to make that particular analogy (open-source--media) and so quick to dismiss the analogy (indeed, the whole article) between open-source and the scientific community written by nikolai bezroukov (anyone remembers that?)

well, maybe he had a bad day that day. at any rate, this interview sounds more like the professional eric. again, not like the eric that threw a tantrum when publicly challenged by bruce perens on that whole apple licence thing.

gee, it just struck me--maybe if people would simply stop doubting eric's cleverness, we could actually benefit from his discerning (There's nothing funny about the popularity of "Dilbert." Companies should take that more seriously than they seem to. ) social commentary.



"And here your textbook tries to be very sneaky... " --a prof of mine, pointing out an incomplete proof.

People are Brands (Score:2)
by A Big Gnu Thrush on Wednesday October 20, @11:11AM EST (#17)
(User Info)
Company : Brand
The Coca Cola Company : Coke, Surge,etc...
3Com : Palm
Intel : Pentium

Oreilly & Assoc. : Larry Wall, Perl
Transmeta : Linus

Your work, your life, your choice (Score:2, Interesting)
by LL on Wednesday October 20, @11:19AM EST (#21)
(User Info)
I would hope that if you spend 8 hours a day, you'd at least enjoy what you're doing. Let's face it, that's at least 1/3rd of your life. Already there is increasing blurring between work and home with the arrival of mobile phones and laptops. The problem is that there are still many jobs that a dull but necessary. Somebody has to go around cleaning stuff, somebody has to go around flogging pizzas, some poor soul will be stuck in a sweatshope factory trying to earn a living for their family. If there was a surplus of IT workers (and corresponding salary drop) would there be as much enthusiasm? How easy is it to get passionate about the next database? One hope is that OpenSource is the ultimate free market, you choose your job and (hopefully) if you're good at it, you get picked up by a commercial mob. In this sense, you effectively make your own employment if you can figure out an area of the noosphere which is important but nobody has realised it yet.

I can imagine the future now, Linux ... the ultimate CV. Imagine employors saying "Show me the source".


Comment from the Linux Today reader:

...for me is to convince me that I should re-examine Richard Stallman's position. I can admire ESR's skills and talents, I even use fetchmail, but I can no longer agree with him because of his odious political views, his absolute inability to debate without seeing a personal attack, and his constant pontificating.

Tom Christiansen asks: 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?

ESR answers: I don't see a chasm there, Tom. After all, we're all still writing and exchanging code. We're all using basically the same set of licenses. I don't think there are properly two different movements at all, outside the imaginations of a few rather fanatical partisans on both sides.

Here is the reality test: if you're running a project and someone sends you a patch, will you stop to enquire whether that person is a member of the correct faction before you apply it? I don't think so...

So despite the verbal fireworks and philosophical disputes, we're all hackers together. What unites us is more important than what divides us.

Tet asks: 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?

ESR answers: Step in the right direction, definitely. As more and more infrastructure goes open, and the remaining closed-source applications increasingly use it for leverage, the overall quality of the applications will go up.

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

ESR answers: Look around you. What do you see, compared to a year ago? Do you see fewer Linux hackers writing open source, or more? Do you see fewer hackers getting *paid* to write open source, or more? I think the answer is pretty clear. Do you see our designs, or our licenses, or our coding practices being changed in any significant way by corporate participation? Again, I think the answer is pretty clear. The truth is, they're not transforming us. We're transforming them.

asad asks*: I know that you are on the board of directors at VA Linux, what does your job entail?

ESR answers: My job at VA mostly involves sitting in a board meeting once a month asking searching questions about what the firm is doing and why. My role there (as Larry Augustin describes it) is to be the official corporate conscience. This mainly involves nipping bad ideas in the bud, before they flower into something that would piss off the hacker community. I have not had to do this often.

banky asks: 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?

ESR answers: I doubt Linux will have a real technical competitor for a long time, because I think it will probably just absorb new architectural ideas, amoeba-like, as they evolve. Twenty years from now the core APIs may have grown and changed tremendously, but we'll still think of it as the `same' codebase and call it Linux :-).

jflynn asks: 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?

ESR answers: I wouldn't. I think you're right; the successful projects have a core of individual vision around which the bazaar community nucleates.

Personal Attacks on RMS

[ESR1999b] Linux Today Eric Raymond -- Shut Up And Show Them The Code -- infamous ESR response to the RMS Slashdot posting (bold italic in the quotations below is mine --NNB) were he state that "But as an evangelist to the mainstream, he's been one fifteen-year long continuous disaster."

...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...

...None of this takes anything away from RMS's prowess as a programmer or his remarkable effectiveness at mobilizing other hackers to do good work. Emacs and gcc and the GNU code base are an absolutely essential part of our toolkit and our cultural inheritance, for which RMS deserves every praise (which is why I led a standing ovation to him at last LinuxWorld after observing that "without RMS, none of us would be here today"). But as an evangelist to the mainstream, he's been one fifteen-year long continuous disaster.

...RMS's best propaganda has always been his hacking. So it is for all of us; to the rest of the world outside our little tribe, the excellence of our software is a *far* more persuasive argument for openness and freedom than any amount of highfalutin appeal to abstract principles. So the next time RMS, or anybody else, urges you to "talk about freedom", I urge you to reply "Shut up and show them the code."


In the end, this whole matter is not about politics. It is about a force of social interaction, of nature if you will. As has so often been pointed out, the idea of "open source", or Free Software, or any of its many flavors, is simply the practice of academic science. It is the building of common knowledge, what we call civilization. That is why its called 'Computer Science'. The process is one based on communication. Building software is based on communication. Scientist talk with each other, compare notes and thoughts, build and test devices and programs, and come to agreements about the best way to understand a problem. Then move forward.

This is what computer science has been about for decades. This process created Unix to being with. It then created the Internet.

And then the Internet itself catalized the ease of communication and coordination over the whole world, and that process of science entered hyperdrive. Linux has been one product of that event, and only an early one, I am sure of.

Linux happened not because of politics, but because of what is now possible. The process worked, and continues to work.

Two major figures backing the open source programming model parted ways this week as programmer Bruce Perens resigned from the board of the Open Source Initiative, a group established by Perens and open source evangelist Eric Raymond.

In open source development, any programmer can get access to the "source code"--the original programming instructions of a piece of software. With more traditional proprietary methods, a company keeps the original source code under tight wraps.

The open source movement provided much of the muscle behind the Linux operating system, which has been gaining much momentum of late, but the collective programming model is much broader. Other open source projects include the Perl scripting language in widespread use to create customized Web pages, the Apache Web page server, and the Sendmail email software.

As open source has grown in prominence and power, big-name computer companies have recognized it. IBM, for example, distributes and supports the Apache Web server. Sun Microsystems opened up its Java "write once, run anywhere" source code in a step that brings its software closer to the open source model.

Microsoft employees noted the power of open source software compared to Microsoft's methods in the Halloween memos. And Netscape decided to release the source code of its Web browser.

But with this growth has come philosophical differences.

The technology discussion site Slashdot reported the schism between Raymond and Perens yesterday, and hundreds posted their own, often adamant opinions on the subject.

Both Perens and Raymond have strong credentials in the open source arena; Perens is the primary author of the Open Source Definition and wrote parts of the Debian distribution of Linux. Raymond was the programmer behind much of the Fetchmail software and is the author of the influential paper "The Cathedral and the Bazaar," contrasting open source with proprietary development.

But the two now are at odds as an old debate resurfaced.

"One of the unfortunate things about open source is that it overshadowed the Free Software Foundation's efforts," Perens wrote this week. "The Open Source Definition is entirely compatible with the Free Software Foundation's goals, and a schism between the two groups should never have been allowed to develop. I objected to that schism, but was not able to get the two parties together."

In response, Raymond told Slashdot that Perens resigned from the Open Source Initiative after a "dustup" in which Perens described Tim O'Reilly (an open source advocate and the head of book publisher O'Reilly and Associates) as "one of the leading parasites [sic] of the free software community."

"Though no formal motion has yet been passed, it seems likely that OSI will shortly replace Bruce and add two more directors in an effort to broaden its base of representation in the open-source community," Raymond said.

Despite these philosophical debates, the open source effort moves on. "I'm an open-source developer. Yet, I couldn't care less if Bruce Perens and Eric Raymond disagree over wording of a license," one developer told CNET "I think it's important to keep in mind that these people do not represent the free/open source software community at all. They try to do their part, but their part hasn't lately included writing code, and that is what it's all about."

The ups and downs of open source Netscape surprised the programming world when it set up Mozilla to shepherd the open source development of its Web browser in 1998.

But the company acknowledges the risks of that move. In its February 18 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the company describes a long series of potential pitfalls of trying to harness the open source effort.

Among the risks: few developers may contribute; what they contribute may not be changes in the right direction; competitors may try to incorporate new Netscape features; and new code may infringe on the proprietary rights of third parties.

In addition, "the free source code may lead to a proliferation of incompatible or competitive products, potentially creating brand and market confusion," Netscape said.

That problem is known as "code forking," in which programmers take a piece of software down two or more different paths. Without efforts to bring the changes back under one roof, software can split into different and incompatible versions.

Last year, the Linux Standards Association set up shop on the Web, calling for standards for the operating system so business users wouldn't have to worry about incompatibilities between different flavors of Linux.

The association, led by Linux Online's Michael McLagan, disappeared from the Web in October 1998. The Linux Standards Base, however, which predated the Linux Standards Association, still exists.

[April, 1998] Salon Magazine interviews Eric Raymond in the wake of Netscapes announcement to release their source code and starts bringing the use of OpenSource to the general reading public. A priceless quote from the article: - Technology - Open Source

Looking back, I would have included more about Bruce Perens' resignation from the Open Source Initiative on February 18. Parens is one of those behind the Debian distribution of Linux; he founded Software in the Public Interest (SPI.) He joined OSI in hopes of introducing Free Software to the non-hacker world. He expanded the Debian Social Contract into the definition of Open Source Software adopted by OSI. Last November the membership of SPI rebelled, arguing that Perens had no right to give to OSI a mark that had been collectively developed;

Free Software advocates view Raymond as egomaniacal, insecure and undependable. (OSI has no membership; board seats are by invitation only.) Caught between contending factions, Perens quit OSI. (There is only so much you can say in a column, even a long one, without without changing the focus. See the announcements and extensive discussion at

Messianic Marxist-style Quotes
(OSS as the bright future of mankind)

[CatB] ...And perhaps not only the future of open-source software. No commercial developer can match the pool of talent the Linux community can bring to bear on a problem. Very few could afford even to hire the more than two hundred people who have contributed to fetchmail!

[CatB] ... Perhaps in the end the open-source culture will triumph not because cooperation is morally right or software ``hoarding'' is morally wrong (assuming you believe the latter, which neither Linus nor I do), but simply because the closed-source world cannot win an evolutionary arms race with open-source communities that can put orders of magnitude more skilled time into a problem.

[CatB] Netscape is about to provide us with a large-scale, real-world test of the bazaar model in the commercial world. The open-source culture now faces a danger; if Netscape's execution doesn't work, the open-source concept may be so discredited that the commercial world won't touch it again for another decade

[tMC]...Despite endless talk of open standards, despite numerous alliances and consortia and agreements, proprietary Unix fell apart.

[tMC]...This is quite unlikely to happen to Linux, for the simple reason that all the distributors are constrained to operate from a common base of open source code.

[tMC] ...The overall trends are clear. We mentioned before IDC's projection that Linux will grow faster than all other operating systems combined through 2003. Apache is at 61% market share and rising steadily. Internet usage is exploding, and surveys such as the Internet Operating System Counter show that Linux and other open-source operating systems are already a plurality on Internet hosts and steadily gaining share against closed systems. The need to exploit open-source Internet infrastructure increasingly conditions not merely the design of other software but the business practices and software use/purchase patterns of every corporation there is. These trends, if anything, seem likely to accelerate.

[tMC] ...In a future that includes competition from open source, we can expect that the eventual destiny of any software technology will be to either die or become part of the open infrastructure itself. While this is hardly happy news for entrepreneurs who would like to collect rent on closed software forever, it does suggest that the software industry as a whole will remain entrepreneurial, with new niches constantly opening up at the upper (application) end and a limited lifespan for closed-IP monopolies as their product categories fall into infrastructure.

[tHN] This point, if true, is of more than (excuse me) academic interest. It suggests from a slightly different angle one of the speculations in The Cathedral And The Bazaar; that, ultimately, the industrial-capitalist mode of software production was doomed to be out-competed from the moment capitalism began to create enough of a wealth surplus for many programmers to live in a post-scarcity gift culture.

[CatB] Perhaps this should have been obvious (it's long been proverbial that "Necessity is the mother of invention") but too often software developers spend their days grinding away for pay at programs they neither need nor love. But not in the Linux world - which may explain why the average quality of software originated in the Linux community is so high.

[CatB] ..And perhaps not only the future of open-source software. No commercial developer can match the pool of talent the Linux community can bring to bear on a problem. Very few could afford even to hire the more than two hundred people who have contributed to fetchmail!

Funny Quotes

May 2000. Linux Today - Eric S. Raymond To Be LinuxFest2000 Opening Keynote Speaker

Eric S. Raymond will give his keynote speech Tuesday evening June 20, 2000 and will host a special session of 'Geeks With Guns' Wednesday morning.

On Socially Responsible Programming -- ESR speech "On Socially Responsible Programming" -- contains a very interesting idea about firearms and programmers ;-)

Bearing in mind the Second Amendment, no socially responsible programmer should use his craft to assist with any government program of firearms registration, licensing, prohibition, or confiscation.

April, 2000. From Linux Today Eric S. Raymond Microsoft -- Designed for Insecurity

Cockcroaches breed in the dark. Crackers thrive on code secrecy. It's time to let the sunlight in.

April 1998. Salon Magazine interviews Eric Raymond after Netscape's announcement to open their source code. Interview contains an interesting quote:


The Emperor Has No Clothes

A Final Word from MC ESR In Da House

I am EEE ESS ORR, elite hack-ORR, hear me ROAR!

I am of the hacker elite, can't you see?
fetchmail, blindfolds in nethack, er... (hum-hum diddle dee)
Bow down on your knees, don't you diss me!


I am an author, I "wrote" New Hacker's Dictionary
Well, in fact I done stole it from MIT
I didn't get in there, so I figured they owed me!


I am founder and leader of OSI (word!)
Now my Open Source show is really on the road!
Free Software? Hah! Show me dat code!


I am ESR Skywalker, elite Jedi Knight
I'm packing mah gun and I'm ready to fight
You diss me and I'll send you to eternal night!


I am wealthy board member, VA Something-or-other
Got plenty dollar bills, at least on paper
What's that? crash? Oh fuck! See you later!

(chorus x 2)

Ethics from the Barrel of a Penis

Grab a copy of esr's Ethics from the barrel of a gun and run the following sed script on it:

sed -e s/[gG]un/Penis/g -e s/[bB]ear/Dangl/g -e s/[aA]rms/Phaluses/g -es/[tT]rigger/Glans/g gun-ethics.html > penis-ethics.html

It's the funniest thing you'll read all day. You can see a copy of it at here

Eric's Gun Nut Page

A Reductio of Gun Control

(Warning: this argument is not intended for the intelligence-impaired. If you find you just don't get it, think some more. If you still don't get it, I suggest you give up on public policy and go watch Melrose Place or something.)

If you disagree with everything I have said on this site and are gung-ho for gun control, I suggest you live up to your convictions by posting a big sign on your front lawn that reads:


I wish you joy of all the delightful visitors you will attract.

No? Sound like a bad idea to you? Then perhaps you should consider how dependent you are on the kindness of ``gun nuts'' and rethink your position...

Famous Parody from Slashdot:

by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, @01:06PM EST (#47)
fat-time waddled down the sidewalk with his lubricating midget rapid fire pellet gun tucked firmly under arm. ahead, he noticed a well-dressed man leaning against a building reading a paper.

"howdy sir, " fat-time nodded.

"hello friend."

"whatcha readin' there, sir?"

"i'm reading about this evil tool of the devil, my friend. they call it open-source software. it's a new software development paradigm brought over here by the communisses."

fat-time reddened with fury, "bastard communisses!"

"yes, friend. the communisses are a blight upon our democratic way!"

the rapid fire pellet gun began to grow impatient, "come on, fat-time, i want some cheese!"

"sorry, little buddy. thank you for the heads up on them communisses, sir!"

"go easy, friend!"

***** the cheese stand *****

the rapid fire pellet gun's ears twitched as he savored the fine pepperjack, "wow, this is some good cheese, fat-time!"

"wait what's that?!"

"i don't hear nuthin' fat-time!"

"quiet, my dear super hero weapon!"

a loud screaming could be heard coming from a building just across the street, "eureka! i've done it!"

"i think we may be needed, fat-time, better fire me up!"

fat-time tightened his grip on the rapid fire pellet gun and took hold of it's legs as he leapt across the street. he barely noticed the sign painted on the door, "masslinux", before he kicked it in, "do not fret, my friend, fat-time and lubie have arrived!"

a young man sat at a desk at the back of the otherwise empty room. his wild eyes focused, as best they could, on a glowing laptop screen, "i've done it! i have perfected the copyrighted undistributable open source natalie portman and open source drew barrymore!"

fat-time exploded in a violent rage, "cursed communisses!"

with a few firm squeezes of his trusty rapid fire pellet gun, fat-time pummelled the young open source developer with a plague of death pellets.

the open source developer collapsed to the ground, "oh, natalie, i barely knew thee!" with his final gasp he crumpled into a heap of unviable flesh.

fat-time blew the stream of smoke rising out of the pellet gun's ass, "democracy is safe again, lubie."

"let's go get some cheese fat-time!"

thank you.



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