Contents of the README.TXT file
This file is dumped from two HTML documents.
You can view them using a WWW browser on the URL given below.
ABOUT THE JARGON FILE
Here comes everything you always wanted to know about access to the
Jargon File and its book version, The New Hacker's Dictionary. And, at
the bottom, a small peroration about why you want the book to sell
many, many copies...
ACCESS TO THE FILE
World-wide Web: The Jargon File is available for World-Wide Web access
FTP: The File can also be downloaded from www.ccil.org, but as the
machine has a relatively slow Internet link, we would prefer that you
fetch it from the GNU archive site at prep.ai.mit.edu; the file is
pub/gnu/jarg310.txt.gz. An info version (same name with `.info.gz'
rather than `.txt.gz' suffix) is also available.
Electronic mail: Unfortunately, the Jargon File is far too big to
Note: The Info version is being phased out and will probably not be
offered past 3.2.0. The reason for this is that I expect to be
switching to a different markup system (either Linuxdoc-SGML or
straight HTML) soon.
WHY THERE ARE NO DIFF FILES
Many people have asked why I don't release diff files for new
versions, so people can avoid having to FTP or uucp-fetch the whole
thing each time. It's because diffs tend to lose the actual semantic
changes in a lot of noise resulting from very low-level tweaks (typo
fixes, re-justifications, etc.). This bulks the diffs up to the point
where I don't think they're enough smaller than the File itself to
justify the hassle costs of issuing or using them.
In fall 1991, the 2.9.6 version of the File was published as "The New
Hacker's Dictionary". Version 3.0.0, with over 250 new entries and
numerous changes, was published in August 1993 as TNHD's second
edition (ISBN 0-262-68079-3).
WHY YOU SHOULD BUY THE BOOK
The ftpable version is flat ASCII. The original is marked up in
Texinfo; an info version is also available. The Texinfo source
involves sufficient custom hackery for things like schwa and Palatino
fonts that it wouldn't do anybody but the author much good even if
publishing it weren't in violation of the book contract. There is no
nroff, Scribe or Postscript version.
Besides nice typography, the book gives you prefaces by Guy Steele and
Eric Raymond, a cover by Duane Bibby (he of the TeX lion and the
Metafont kitty), and the infamous Crunchly cartoons by Guy Steele as
No one can stop you from adding your own markup to the flat-ASCII
version and laser-printing the result, and the coauthors have legally
relinquished the right to even try in order to respect hackish
traditions of information sharing. We do ask you not to do this;
widespread `pirating' of a typeset version would ruin anyone else's
future chances of cooperating with a publisher on a project involving
both free and commercial distribution.
You should buy this book because, if it does well, it will encourage
future projects that combine free and commercial distribution
channels. This would be a Good Thing, because it would both promote
free electronic access to information and reward people in the
marketplace for putting it together and making it accessible.
HOW TO FIND IT IN BOOKSTORES
The nice typeset book version is being carried by all major U.S. book
chains --- B. Dalton's, Waldenbooks, Barnes & Noble, Brentano's, etc.
(The D.C.-area Crown chain is an exception; they don't like the
Press's discount structure.)
It will also be in many college bookstores and the more cerebral sort
of independent bookseller (especially SF and technical bookstores).
Many stores will feature a big cardboard pop-up display featuring art
by Duane Bibby.
If you don't see it at your favorite bookstore, ask for it by name.
Sometimes lesser branches of the chains won't actually order copies in
from the chain's warehouses until they have someone order it. The good
side of this is that your single request may cause them to order ten
or more copies, which would be good for reasons I go into below.
DIRECT ORDERING INFORMATION
The book can be ordered now in the U.S. directly through MIT Press.
The mailing address is:
The MIT Press
55 Hayward Street
Cambridge, MA 02142
You may also order through MIT Press's FAX number (617)-258-6779 or by
toll-free voice phone from within the U.S. at (800)-356-0343. If
you're outside the U.S., use the customer service line:
Price: US$14.95 (Canadians add 7% g.s.t.) plus postage and handling
U.S./Canada Book Rate: $2.75
International priority airmail: $8.00
International airmail printed matter: $5.00
International surface book rate: $3.00
The Press will accept VISA, MasterCard, a bank or postal money order,
or a dollar-denominated check drawn on a U.S. bank.
IN THE BRITISH ISLES, SCANDINAVIA AND EUROPE
Copies should be available through MIT Press's London office:
The MIT Press, Ltd.
14 Bloomsbury Square
London WC1A 2LP
Tel: (071) 404 0712
Fax: (071) 404 0601
But anyone anywhere in the world can order through our domestic office
here in Cambridge. Fax: 617/258.6779.
WHAT THE PUBLIC AND REVIEWERS ARE SAYING
In two years, TNHD I went through three printings and sold over 25,000
copies. This was stellar performance for a technical trade paperback
with no significant mainstream advertising. TNHD II may do better
still; at its release date, 4,200 copies had already been
Internet Hackerdom has taken this book to its collective heart.
William Safire's December 8th 1991 "On Language" column in the New
York Times mentioned TNHD as one of his picks for gift-giving that
Christmas. Byte ran an unabashed rave in their January 1992 issue.
Laudatory reviews have also appeared in PC Magazine, IEEE Spectrum, PC
World and Wired. The December 1991 issue of Computing Reviews ran
TNHD's definition of `creationism' on its cover. More recently, the
British journal New Scientist, Sciences, and Mondo 2000 have all
praised the book. In mid-October 1992 it made "On Language" again and
was cited by name on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. MTV
has based segments of the "CyberStuff" feature of "This Week in Rock"
on excerpts from the File.
As TNHD II hit the street, Newsweek magazine ran a major article on
the Internet and its history, using the Jargon File as a primary
source and quoting several File entries in a prominent sidebar.
We have continued to collect raves whenever the book has been
reviewed, except for one or two reviewers who just didn't get it and
went away puzzled.
WHY YOU WANT THIS BOOK TO SELL 1E6 COPIES
One of my (this is Eric Raymond writing) several objectives in seeing
this book published on paper is to help the general public to get a
truer and more positive image of hackers than they have now.
Right now, our society is in a phase of reforming its attitudes and
laws about information privacy, intellectual property, hacking, and
First Amendment issues in electronic networking. It is not a good
thing for this process that many in the public think of hackers as a
potential conspiracy of dangerous nerds, that the very term "hacker"
is now considered by many ignorant people to be a synonym for
"computer criminal". We must reclaim the word "hacker" for our own!
There is a real danger to hackers that restrictive, wrong-headed
information laws and strict licensing requirements for "software
professionals" might kill our open, free-spirited culture. This would
be a tragedy not just for us but for the whole world that benefits
from our creativity.
Groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been formed to
fight for hackerdom on the legal and political level. To support that,
though, the public needs to be re-educated about all the positive
aspects of hackerdom. We need them to see our sense of humor, our
dedication, our playfulness, our idealism; we need to communicate the
excitement, challenge and promise of the new worlds we're exploring.
We need the man in the street to see us as an ally, not a threat.
I think this book can be a big help with that. If it sells a million
copies, that's a million people who will learn something of our
traditions, and our dreams, and (perhaps most importantly) how to
laugh with us. That's a million friends. I think we need those
friends, and I think we're going to need them a lot more before
society completes its adaptation to the new computing technologies.
This is why I hope you will want The New Hacker's Dictionary_ to sell
a million copies. I think there's a significant chance for it to sell
at that order of magnitude and make a significant impact on the
public's consciousness, in the same way Cliff Stoll's Cuckoo's_Egg_
did in 1990 --- by becoming everybody's idea of the perfect gift book
for the technologically hip and semi-hip.
Soooo...tell your friends about this book. The freedom you help save
may be your own.
Eric S. Raymond
JARGON FILE HISTORY
We make at least the newest and oldest versions of the Jargon File
* jarg310.txt.gz -- The 3.1.0 interim release in flat-ASCII form, 15
Oct 1994. 1961 entries.
* jarg310.info.gz -- Version of the above suitable for info
* jargon-upd.gz -- All new and changed entries since 2.9.6.
* jargon.text.z -- the original MIT/Stanford AI jargon file.
Entries with only trivial changes (spelling, punctuation, references,
minor changes of phrasing) have been omitted from the change list.
Some archive sites will also include the following, depending on free
space available and the sysadmin's whim:
* jarg300.txt.gz -- The 3.0.0 version, corresponding to the second
paper edition from MIT Press. 1961 entries.
* jargon2912.txt.gz -- May 10 1993 update. Last revision before the
3.0 freeze for TNHD's second edition. A few terms have been
deleted, mostly game-specific slang from the MUD community. 1946
* jargon2911.ascii.gz -- Jan 01 1993 update. 1922 entries.
* jargon2910.ascii.gz -- Jul 01 1992 update, with new entries and
much additional historical material. 1891 entries.
* jargon299.ascii.gz -- Apr 01 1992 update, with new entries from
XEROX PARC and elsewhere. 1821 entries.
* jargon298.ascii.gz -- Jan 01 1992 update, with corrections and new
entries. 1760 entries.
* jargon296.ascii.gz -- the sixfold-expanded version published in
1991 as "The New Hacker's Dictionary" by MIT Press. This is the
entire text, except for Guy Steele's and Eric Raymond's
introductions and the "vietnam wall" credits list at the end (and
of course no fancy fonts and cartoons). 1702 entries.
Eric S. Raymond