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developerWorks: Eric Raymond Goes Back to Basics

Mar 29, 2003, 04:00 (20 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Robert McMillan)

"Open source advocate Eric Raymond has been spending more time lately in front of the computer than in front of the crowds. He says he's backed off on the public speaking engagements, in part because the travel schedule was exhausting, but also because the need for a 24x7 open source advocate is just not what it once was. The open source revolution is 'basically on course,' he says; the enterprise has embraced Linux, and these days very few people now need to be convinced that the open source methodology can create best-of-breed software.

"So, Raymond has spent some time writing and some time hacking. On the writing side, he's recently posted a draft of his latest book The Art of Unix Programming, which is slated to be published in August 2003. As for hacking, after spending two years trying to get an ill-fated Linux kernel configurator accepted by the Linux kernel developers ('It was the best work of my life, and it was mugged by kernel list politics,' he says), he has hacked a program called Doclifter that will intelligently lift troff markup pages into XML DocBook. He is also co-developing a currently unreleased configuration editor for DNS...

"developerWorks: Where did you get the idea to start working on The Art of Unix Programming?

"Raymond: It started five years ago when Erik Troan and Mike Johnson and a couple of people at Red Hat did a book called Linux Application Development. I thought it was a very good book, but it wasn't the book I wanted to read. The book I wanted to read was less about the Linux application programming interface and the low-level details of how you got things done, and more about design patterns and high level stuff about why you should do things in a particular style..."

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