Tweak3D - Your Freakin' Tweakin' Source!
Interview with Eric Steven Raymond

Posted: June 12, 1999
Interview from: June 11, 1999
Written by: Keith "Farrel" McClellan

The popularity and support of Linux has increased substantially in the last few years. More and more nerds people are starting to use what is considered to be an OS like no other. It was made by the people that use it, and as a result, it has all the features that real users want. Linux is also becoming more and more friendly to gamers. We decided to talk with Eric Steven Raymond, one of the main influences of the Open-source movement, to hear his opinion on why Linux is superior to Windows and where Linux is headed in the future.

Tweak3D: For our readers who don't know, who are you and why are you associated with the Linux/Open-source movement?

Eric: I'm a long-time Unix hacker who happens to think like an anthropologist. So I noticed some interesting social patterns in the development of Linux and the Internet. I wrote about them, and (rather to my surprise) discovered that I had inadvertently become one of the open-source movement's leading theorists. Then I turned into an roving ambassador and evangelist, because the job needed doing.

Tweak3D: How do you think Linux and the Open-source movement will affect computing in the next few years?

Eric: Open-source peer review, for the first time, gives us the ability to produce software that is truly reliable and robust -- no more Blue Screens of Death. As awareness of that fundamental fact spreads, I think we'll see the expectations of software consumers rise to the point where shoddy software and frequent crashes simply aren't tolerated any more.

Tweak3D: One of your papers, entitled "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", influenced Netscape to open up Do you foresee other companies taking a similar approach?

Eric: I don't have to 'foresee'; it's already happening. Look at Apple's Darwin, or IBM's Alphaworks.

Tweak3D: For those of us still bound to our Windows boxes, what are the advantages of a Linux-based system? In what ways is Linux more technologically advanced than Windows (in any of its various incarnations)?

Eric: Mean time between crashes often measured in *years*, not days or hours. No Y2K grief. The best Internet and Web tools in existence anywhere. True multitasking to fully exploit the power of fast processors. Better security. Better networking. No viruses. Small footprint and much more efficient use of hardware, yielding better performance. And, best of all, no Blue Screen of Death -- ever.

Tweak3D: Several large corporations are starting to formulate beta Linux drivers for their hardware in-house. How (other than the obvious of making more hardware accessible to Linux users) will this affect Linux computing?

Eric: It's an indicator of an oncoming trend away from Windows and NT among businesses that can't afford software failures.

Tweak3D: Several games of note (Quake 3, Unreal, etc) are being ported over to the Linux OS. What are your thoughts on this and how do you think it will affect the computer industry?

Eric: I don't really know. I'm not familiar with that market segment.

Tweak3D: If more games and usability applications are written for or ported to Linux, do you foresee Linux becoming an OS used by the masses, rather than the geeks?

Eric: Yes, I think that will happen.

Tweak3D: Would it be possible to maintain Linux's stability and flexibility but make it as easy to use as a Microsoft OS?

Eric: Certainly. A good basic architecture makes all these things easier, and Linux's is superior.

Tweak3D: What kind of a computer user would you recommend try Linux?

Eric: Any user that never again wants to watch a machine crash or lock up in the middle of something important should try Linux.

Tweak3D: Thanks Eric! If you want more information on Eric or his work, visit his site here.

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