The Cathedral and The Bazaar

Eric Raymond starts with the history and culture of hackerdom. He says hackers build things. He reflects upon his development of fetchmail and observations on open-source development of Linux community. It’s composed of five essays overall, with the essay “The Cathedral and The Bazaar” being the highlight of the book. It contains great advice for software engineers. Here are some gems from the book:

  • Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.
  • You often don’t really understand the problem until after the first time you implement a solution. So if you want to get it right, be ready to start over at least once.
  • Adding more programmers to a late project makes it later.
  • Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but rather when there is nothing more to take away.
  • An important trait of the great ones is laziness. They know that you get an A not for effort but for results, and that it’s almost always easier to start from a good partial solution than from nothing at all.
  • Smart data structures and dumb code works a lot better than the other way around.
  • You have to listen to your customers.
  • The best hacks start out as personal solutions to the author’s everyday problems.
  • In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.

He concludes by saying “You can learn language features from books, but the mind-set that makes that knowledge into a living skill be learned only by practice and apprenticeship. What will do it is (a) reading code and (b) writing code.”


July 1, 2011

sarp centel

Sarp is a software developer. He writes about technology, books and software.
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