The Cathedral and the Bazaar

Greg London greglondon at
Mon Sep 24 14:01:45 UTC 2001

(an allegory)

And the Bazaar was hustling and bustling
with comings and goings, a hustle and bustle,
and a great many things all happening at once.

A woman came through the great morass with a 
push cart. She found an open space on the
walk and started to unload her wares.
She struggled to set up her table, and then
covered it with a multitude of pretty, and
interesting things. She then put a large, 
brightly, colored umbrella through a hole 
in the center of the table, which put her 
table in the shade.

A man at the table next to him began shouting
at her and ran over.

"You cannot put an umbrella in your table."

"Why not? it is a sunny day, and I will surely 
get sunburn."

"We at the bazaar do not take lightly of such
structures. These things lead to Cathedral-like
ways of doing things."

He flashed an angry side glance at the
Cathedral across the corner. The man 
returned his gaze to the table and suddenly
became angrier than before.

"A ROUND TABLE! What are you doing bringing
a round table to the bazaar!?!?"
The woman explained.

"It is easier for me to roll a round table
where I want it, than it is to carry a square
table on my back."

"That is not the way of the bazaar! You must
have a square table if you are to trade your
wares here!"

"Where does it say I must do such a thing?"

The man reached in his pocket and angrily
waved the paper in front of her.

"Right here!"
He pointed to the top item.
"Square tables are approved for bazaar operators."

"But that doesn't mean round tables aren't approved
or cannot be approved."

"Don't be absurd. There are 11 approved items on
the bazaar's list. Round tables are not one of them.
see for yourself."

He threw the list at her. The woman was busy reading
it when a loud racket nearby distracted them both.
The man took the list from the woman and ran over to
see what the ruckus was.

Another woman was setting up a tent at her site, 
and a pole had fallen to the ground in a kabang.

The man began screaming.

"What are you doing!? Tent's are not allowed in the 

"But on days it is windy, a tent is much more 
comfortable. And my merchandise is so small and
light, that even a small breeze would blow it
all away."

"But tents have not been approved!"
he pointed angrily at the paper in his hand.
"Don't you understand? Tents have not been
approved for the bazaar."

"Who died and made you high priest?
open-air is not the only way of trading at
the bazaar. I need a tent." 

The umbrella woman came over and interjected.
"And I want an umbrella and a round table." 

"Well, you cannot have them nor should you want
them. They have not been approved, and for 
good reason. We can't just have a bazaar of
vendors, selling and trading their wares
any way they feel like it. There are specific
established ways of doing things here."

The two women looked at each other.
"Come on, sis. We're obviously not welcome here."
She motioned her to follow.
"Maybe we can do it our way at the Cathedral."

And they _ALL_ lived miserably ever after.

The End.

Author's Prologue:

> We realized it was time to dump the 
> confrontational attitude that has been
> associated with "free software" in the 
> past and sell the idea strictly on the
> same pragmatic, business-case grounds 
> that motivated Netscape.

quoted from:


Greg London
with apologies in advance to Eric Raymond.
license-discuss archive is at

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