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Eric Raymond

Eric Raymond is a prominent figure in the open-source software movement, known for his work in defining and promoting open-source software development methodologies. His experience with traditional software development led him to question how the Linux operating system, an early example of open-source software, could be so successful despite its unconventional development process.

Raymond’s insights into software development are best captured in his seminal work, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar.” In this work, he contrasts two distinct software development styles:

  1. Cathedral: This development style is characterized by long release intervals, hierarchical organization, tight specifications, and small project groups. In the Cathedral model, more people involved in the project result in increased coordination and higher management overhead, as described by Brooks’ Law in “The Mythical Man-Month.” The Cathedral approach is associated with traditional, proprietary software development.

  2. Bazaar: In contrast to the Cathedral model, the Bazaar style embraces open-source development principles. Yochai Benkler notes that there is more order in this approach than Raymond initially describes. The Bazaar model leverages better technology to reduce coordination and communication costs. Developers are encouraged to self-select tasks based on their interests and motivations, such as credit, reputation, learning, and trust. The software structure is modular, allowing for easier collaboration and peer review. This model relies on a decentralized process and short release intervals, with the understanding that the software is never truly “finished.” The Bazaar approach also highlights the importance of social norms, charisma, and the internet in organizing projects.

Raymond’s work emphasizes the “web of trust” and the role of reputation in open-source development. Developers build trust through their contributions, which in turn leads to greater collaboration and shared success.

In summary, Eric Raymond’s analysis of the Cathedral and Bazaar development models has significantly influenced the open-source software movement. His insights into the organizational, motivational, and collaborative aspects of open-source development have helped shape modern software development practices and fostered greater understanding of the benefits of open collaboration.

Page last modified: 2023-05-06 16:44:40