The hacker ethic

Friday, 30 January 2004, 10:39 AM EST

Anyone who is even vaguely familiar with free software/open source is likely to be familiar with the hacker. While I will spare you the lecture about the true definition of the term 'hacker', there is no doubt that this devoted individual who has no interest in 'owning your box' as per the press representation of the 'hacker', has a particular motivation embedded in their brain that makes them a hacker. This individual often spends many hours sitting in front of vi or emacs, staring at the code within, performing some kind of cryptic magic, trying to make the different parts of their vision make sense in the terse programming language that they use.

Hackers are notorious beasts due to one major reason: their commitment to the project. Although I have already coined a mental vision in your mind of a hacker in front of a whirring computer staring at code, the hacker can of course be involved with a non-code aspect in a project. This could include system administration with their home network, documentation, advocacy, web development or other areas. The key here is that the hacker typically strives to improve things, find the best solution and make things work better and faster. The hacker is often never satisfied with their work as they are always convinced that there is a better way, or a finer hack.

By Jono Bacon at O'Reilly.

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