When I'm not being a hacker, I'm often a writer. Here are some of the screeds I've uttered over the years.

Open Source and Hacker Anthropology:

The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1997-2001)

Probably the most popular thing I've written. It's in demand in a lot of different forms, so I've given it its own subsite. Includes Homesteading the Noosphere, The Magic Cauldron, and A Brief History of Hackerdom.

Goodbye `free software'; hello, `open source` (1998)

My original February 1998 call to the community, issued immediately after the Netscape breakthrough, to start using the term `open source'. This is the beginning that OSI and the mainstreaming of Linux built on.

Open Source Summit (1998)

And this is what followed, when the chieftains of the hacker tribes met and threw their weight behind "open source".

Keeping an Open Mind (1999)

An essay on Open Source I wrote for the Cyberian Express, a Barnes & Noble newsletter.

Response to Nikolai Bezroukov (1999)

I dissect a really bad article in First Monday that billed itself as a "Critique of Pure Raymondism".

The Case of the Quake Cheats (1999)

After the Quake 1 source was GPLed, John Carmack reported that the release had enabled some cheats. Does this mean open source is a security problem? In this essay, I discuss the security lessons of Quake.

Guest Editorial: World Domination (2001)

Because some visions are too audacious not to approached with a sence of humor.

Telling Lies: ESR on Microsoft (2001)

A senior Microsoft executive is telling lies in public. In other startling news, the sky is blue and water has been seen flowing downhill.

Culture Hacking (2012)

My talk at AgileCultureCon on culture-hacking and linguistic maps.

A Fan of Freedom (2003)

Some thoughts on Sam Williams's excellent biography of Richard Stallman.

The Prudential interview (2003)

A transcript of my 15 October 2003 conference call with some big-time Prudential Securities investors. If you're looking for an example of how to do effective advocacy to a business audience, this interview is representative of how I do it.

Hacking and Refactoring (2003)

An essay examining the convergence between open source and agile programming.

Open letter to Sun: Let Java Go (2004)

At Sun's February 2004 meeting, CEO Scott McNealy said "The open-source model is our friend". This is the open letter I wrote to urge him to demonstrate that.

The Luxury of Ignorance: An Open-Source Horror Story (2004)

The biggest obstacle between open-source software and world domination is not Microsoft, it's our own endemic cluelessness about how to design software that won't make nontechnical users run screaming. I ran into a particularly poignant example when I tried to configure CUPS for remote printing. A glitzy GUI interface fails to compensate for some astonishing blunders. There are lessons here for other projects.

The Luxury of Ignorance: Part Deux (2004)

A followup to The Luxury of Ignorance: An Open-Source Horror Story in which I discuss the community reaction, develop the concept of the luxury of ignorance further, and call for a sea-change in attitudes towards UI.

Samizdat: Stinks on Ice (2004)

I offered the Alexis de Toqueville instutute a private critique of their book on the supposed theft at the heart of the Linux operating system, in the fond hope that they would correct the errors. They didn't. Here it is.

Free Hardware: a Trojan Horse? (2004)

In early 2004 Sun Microsystems and Microsoft started talking up a vision of the future in which hardware would come free with software subscriptions. This essay makes clear why this offer is a dangerous trap.

Terminology Wars: A Web Content Analysis (2004)

Who use the terms "open source" and "free software"? What is their relative frequency on the Web? Among developers? In media? This paper has the answers.

Open Minds, Open Sources (2004)

My article on open source development that apppeared in the June-July 2004 issue of Analog magazine. Focuses on some ideas from complexity theory and on connections with the SF tradition.

World Domination 201 (2008)

This paper, written with Rob Landley, explains why 2008 is a deadline for popular Linux acceptance on the desktop, and examines the strategy and tactics necessary to achieve that.

Love doesn't scale: The EconTalk podcast (2009)

In which I discourse on open-source economixs, net neutrality, and all manner of related things.

Technical Writings:


A comprehensive essay on the design of GPSD, which I believe has significant lessons for other projects.

Building The Perfect Box (1996)

My article on building good Linux hardware cheap, written for Linux Journal #36. I was a bit surprised at how popular it proved.

The Essential Perl Books (1998)

Some book reviews from just before I discovered Python.

Why Python? (2000)

Guido van Rossum told me once he thought this article was the single most effective piece of Python evangelism ever. For some years it was the single most popular back article on the LJ website.

The Ultimate Linux Box 2001 (2001)

This article is a sequel to my 1996 "Building the Perfect Box" article. Where that was a guide to building Linux workstations on the cheap, this examines a slightly different question: What do you build when money is no object? A severely truncated version edited down to about 25% of its length, appeared in the November 2001 Linux Journal.

DRAG.NET (2002)

A technical presentation on Windows-to-Linux end-user migration that is also a cheesy vaudeville routine -- performed at the Winter 2002 LinuxWorld with Rob Landley and Catherine Raymond.

Considering SCO's Evidence: This Smoking Gun Fizzles (2003)

A detailed and in-depth analysis of the so-called evidence of massive code copying that SCO revealed on 18 July 2003.

The Unix Koans of Master Foo (2003)

While working on The Art of Unix Programming, I became aware of a fascinating archeological discovery — the recovery of the lost teachings of an ancient Unix master...

The Art Of Unix Programming (2005)

My most recent book, an extended meditation on how to think like a Unix guru.

Heirloom Software: the Past as Adventure

How some friends and I restored the final version of Colossal Cave Adventure. With more general thoughts about restoring software Old Masters: reasons, goals, best practices.


The Myth of Man The Killer

Most people believe that human beings are uniquily violent animals, natural-born killers. This belief is not only wrong, it prevents clear thinking about the actual causes and mechanisms of violence. In this essay I show that our original sin is not murderousness but obedience

The Biology of Human Promiscuity

Why does love got to hurt so bad? Or, to put it another way, why aren't humans wired to mate faithfully for life, like swans? An essay in evolutionary psychology.

The Utility of Mathematics

An essay, originally written for the Extropians list, on why mathematical formal systems are so mysteriously applicable to the real world.

Science Fiction

Raymond's Reviews

From 1990 to 1992 I wrote and posted to USENET an SF review column which became rather popular. I still get questions about it, so I've made the reviews available on the Web here.

SF Words and Prototype Worlds

An essay on how readers understand science fiction.

A Political History of SF

The largest pattern in the history of modern science fiction has been the four failed revolutions against Campbellian hard SF. In this essay I examine the roots of these revolutions and the reasons for their failure.

Opinion and Ideas:

Decentralism Against Terrorism

A few hours after the destruction of the World Trade Center on 11 September 2001, some friends asked me to speak out against the worst long-term damage it could mean for our country -- not the terrorism itself, but our political reaction to it.

The Anti-Idiotarian Manifesto

My attempt to distill a lot of post-2001 talking and thinking in the blogosphere into a coherent set of principles and guides to action. A declaration of war on terrorism and the friends of terrorism.

Collateral Damage: Reflections on Timothy McVeigh

Timothy McVeigh raises moral questions we seem ill-prepared to answer. Perhaps that's why there's a media rush to turn him into a demon?

Why I Am An Anarchist

On August 19, 1934, 90% of the German people -- educated citizens of a modern constitutional democracy -- voted Adolf Hitler dictatorial power over their country. In this essay, I explore the stark and terrible implications of this fact.

On Socially Responsible Programming

My remarks to Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility on the occasion of co-receiving the 1999 Norbert Weiner Award.

Shut Up And Show Them The Code

An essay on Open Source advocacy, with particular focus on why talking about `freedom' or other kinds of ideals is counterproductive in promoting our values.

Ethics from the Barrel of a Gun

An adventure in ethical philosophy; what bearing weapons teaches about the good life. If you are politically correct, this will give you absolute hives. Read it anyway.

Whatever became of "Civil Rights"?

I wrote this around 1990 after a particularly outrageous series of newspaper stories. The Philadelphia Inquirer published an edited version as an Op-Ed piece in "Community Voices" on Sunday, February 8 1998.

Why Libertarians Should Not Love Bill Gates

The DOJ lawsuit against Microsoft seems to have thrown a good many libertarians into confusion. In this essay, I argue that friends of the free market should condemn both antitrust law and Microsoft.

Five Myths Of New Media

I wrote this in April 1997 for a newsletter called "Editorial Eye" targeted for writers and editors.

Why "High Art" is in Deep Trouble

A letter to the editor, with some thoughts on why self-conscious art has been such an esthetic disaster area in this century.


The Slashdot interview: October 1999

They asked questions. I answered them.

The OnLamp Interview: June 2005

Wherein I explain why we don't need the GPL anymore.

Open-Source Guru: Time for 'Compromises': August 2006

Where I lay out the case that the open-source community needs to compromise on proprietary codecs.

A Look Back at 10 Years of OSI: February 2008

Federico Biancuzzi interviews several early members of OSI. I am among them.

Interview with Eric S. Raymond: January 2008

My ten-years-on retrospective on how far we've come since 1998.

The JUG interview

An Ask Me Anything in which I divagate about languages, sanity in software architecture, my first hardware design, and many other topics.

The Setup interview

They wanted to know what I use to get work done. I told them.

Been There, Done That...

Fear and Loathing in Caracas

...A Bemused Journey into the Heart of the South American Dream. Five days at the intersection of politics and technology in the Third World, and what I found there.

The Adventure of the Cutty Sark

Another travel tale, in which I go to Greenwich on a boat. Many in-jokes for fans of the Aubrey/Maturin novels.

Blue Skies, No Sushi

...or, I Left My Heart In Shin-Osaka. An account of my first time in Japan. Chock full of adventure, enlightenment, romance, and even a few photos. I learned a lot -- about exogamy, crazy Zen masters, and where the set designs for Bladerunner came from...

Icelandic Showerheads Rule!

...A Norse is a Norse, of course, of course. My March 2001 trip to Reykjavik; a tale of sagas, glaciers, and dangerous Viking food.

In Deepest Kimchi

An account of my adventures in Korea, the Land Of Great Barbeque And Beautiful Women.

Five Nights in Bangkok

Thailand was gonna be the witness of the ultimate test of cerebral fitness...

Eric Goes IPSCC

My first tactical-pistol match and what I found there. If you're politically correct you'd better skip this -- it might put you in danger of learning something.

War Games II

or, How I Learned To Start Worrying And Hate The Bomb. The full version, parts 1 and 2, of my long-distance encounter with Cheyenne Mountain, as posted to comp.risks on 1 April 1992.

Dancing With The Gods

Portrait of the Author as a Young Mystic. What I think I've learned about the things we call `religion' and `mysticism', and how I learned it.

The “Geeks With Guns” Chronicles

Geeks and guns are a natural match. Open-source software is about getting freedom; personal firearms are about keeping it. Besides that, hackers gotta love anything where you get to tinker with complex hardware that makes loud exploding noises. Here's what happened when this stopped being just theory...

Take My Job, Please!

This is what happens after you spend a year as a public person...

Understand My Job, Please!

People jumped to some wild conclusions about “Take My Job, Please!”. Here's the sequel I wrote three days later.


Celebrating 20 Years of Linux

A retrospective on the first 15 years of Linux at LinuxWorld 2006. Plus a look ahead at the next five years.

Unclassifiable Weirdness:

World Domination R Us

Now, the full truth of my sinister master plan for world domination can be revealed...

Conventions at Light Speed

...What Hackers Can Learn From SF Fandom. Science-fiction fans have developed an excellent toolkit of techniques for running effective conventions and shows on a shoestring budget with all-volunteer staff. This document lays out some of the techniques for the use of people running Linux and open-source gatherings.

The Nerligig Papers

My contribution to Steve Miller and Sharon Lee's Liaden Universe.

Unix Wars

A Star Wars parody.

la tenguar: a Romantic Orthography for Lojban

In which the author marries a language almost nobody has heard of with an orthography almost everyone has forgotten.