Understanding RMS...

Goa, India

Shahzad has this profile of Richard M. Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, the Free Software Movement and the GNU Project. IMHO, the description of RMS isn't way off the mark... but it simply overlooks the point of what this man is all about.

Shahzad has this profile of Richard M. Stallman, the founder of the Free Software Foundation, the Free Software Movement and the GNU Project. IMHO, the description of RMS isn't way off the mark... but it simply overlooks the point of what this man is all about.

There's this fascinating book Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software, By Sam Williams March 2002 0-596-00287-4, Order Number: 2874 240 pages, $22.95 US $34.95 CA. As you could expect, and in keeping with the spirit, the book is available for Style information: N/a

Source: Learn the Net Glossary, cited on TechSoup Glossary ">download

. So there's no excuse about not understanding the man and his movement, if you really want to go beyond appearances and what might come across as eccentricities.

I know that RMS doesn't like parts of this biography, and it certainly isn't hagiographical. But it does put issues in context, and explain why the work of Stallman (and others of his value-system) will make such a big difference to computing (and other fields too!)

Author Sam Williams has an interesting interview titled How Will History View Richard Stallman?. And this is Danny Yee's review of Free as in Freedom:
Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software
.

A quote: "Williams' first-hand accounts help give Stallman a human face: chapter five recounts a meeting in 1999 LinuxWorld, chapter eight a meeting in Hawaii, and chapter twelve a frustrating car trip with Stallman at the wheel. These give a feel for Stallman's personality and presence, his forthrightness and emotional intensity, his steadfastness and his abrasiveness, and his ability to unsettle. Chapter thirteen attempts to predict Stallman's status "in 100 years", quoting opinions from from Eben Moglen, John Gilmore, Eric Raymond, and Lawrence Lessig; it also suggests that Stallman's personality may be inseparable from his achievements."

See this biography too for more background details. Finally, I though, his friend-turned-rival Eric Raymond's viewpoint of the book makes for an interesting counterpoint. And, incidentally, Open Source isn't quite the same thing as Free Software, take a cybertour to grapple with the difference to appreciate the differences better.

Shahzad says: "I personally think that he has created his own bubble and he can't see beyond that. There was this discussion that even his followers also are sort of fundamentalists and strict to their own ideology."

Bubble or not, the jury is still probably out on this. We need to note that the Free Software world has worked to successfully build a movement where the "alternative" (form of computing) is in many ways better, more robust and certainly more free than the "real thing".

Well, this blogger is one of the self-acknowledged fundamentalist. After all, as they say, reasonable men change to meet the prevailing circumstances. Therefore, all progress depends on unreasonable men ;-)

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