March 16 is the birthday of Richard Stallman. He is 58 years old.
Your freedom to control the software you use, to redistribute the software to others. Software that respects the user’s freedom is what we call free software
Richard Matthew Stallman was born in March 16, 1953. He is an American software freedom activist and computer programmer. Richard Stallman founded the free software movement (“free” as in freedom) in 1983, and in 1984 started developing the free operating system, GNU (gnu.org), that most people mistakenly call Linux. He is president of the Free Software Foundation and received a MacArthur Foundation Prize Fellowship as well as various honorary doctorates.
He was born to Daniel Stallman and Alice Lippman in New York City, New York. Hired by the IBM New York Scientific Center, Stallman spent the summer after his high-school graduation writing his first program, a preprocessor for the PL/I programming language on the IBM 360.
In June 1971, as a first year student at Harvard University, Stallman became a programmer at the AI Laboratory of MIT. There he became a regular in the hacker community, where he was usually known by his initials, “RMS” (which was the name of his computer accounts). In the first edition of the Hacker’s Dictionary, he wrote, “‘Richard Stallman’ is just my mundane name; you can call me ‘rms’.” Stallman graduated from Harvard magna cum laude earning a BA in Physics in 1974.
Stallman then enrolled as a graduate student in physics at MIT, but abandoned his graduate studies while remaining a programmer at the MIT AI Laboratory. At the end of his first year in the graduate program, Stallman suffered a knee injury that ended the main joy in his life – his participation in the folk dance troupe, and with it the opportunity it provided for socializing with the opposite sex. Stallman’s ensuing despair culminated in social withdrawal from which he found solace in a heightened focus on the area in which his achievements made him most proud – programming. While his doctoral pursuits in physics became a casualty of this calling, however, Stallman has been awarded six honorary doctorates and two honorary professorships.
As a hacker in MIT’s AI laboratory, Stallman worked on software projects like TECO, Emacs, and the Lisp Machine Operating System. He would become an ardent critic of restricted computer access in the lab. When MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) installed a password control system in 1977, Stallman found a way to decrypt the passwords and sent users messages containing their decoded password (to demonstrate that they were not increasing security, but only hindering free access to each other’s software and discouraging sharing it), with a suggestion to change it to the empty string (that is, no password) instead, to restore this free access. Around 20% of the users followed his advice. Although Stallman boasted of the success of his campaign for many years afterward, passwords ultimately prevailed.
-up until the beginning of the 1980’s, programming and computer culture was, by default, very free and sharing. people at academic and governmental institutions readily shared problems and solutions in a way very similar to how the open source community operates today.
-sometime around then, things changed as computer science became more corporatized. suddenly, with software liscening, programmers were no longer able to share what they were working on with their friends and colleagues as they had been used to doing.
-However, he was the last of his generation of hackers at the lab. He rejected a future where he would have to sign non-disclosure agreements not to share source code or technical information with other software developers and perform other actions he considered betrayals of his principles. He chose instead to share his work with others in what he regarded as a classical spirit of collaboration. While Stallman did not participate in the 1960s era counterculture, he was inspired by its rejection of the pursuit of wealth as the primary goal of living.
-because of this, he started the gnu liscence and the free software foundation.
Nobody should be restricted by the software they use. There are four freedoms that every user should have:
- The freedom to use the software for any purpose,
- The freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors,
- The freedom to change the software to suit your needs, and
- The freedom to share the changes you make.
The GNU Project was launched in 1984 to develop a complete Unix-like operating system which is free software—software which respects your freedom.
Unix-like operating systems are built from a collection of applications, libraries, and developer tools—plus a program to allocate resources and talk to the hardware, known as a kernel.
The Hurd, GNU’s kernel, is actively developed, but is still some way from being ready for daily use, so GNU is often used with a kernel called Linux; here is a list of full GNU/Linux distributions which are entirely free software.
The combination of GNU and Linux is the GNU/Linux operating system, now used by millions and sometimes incorrectly called simply “Linux”.
What is Free Software?
• The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
• The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
• The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
• The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
Richard Stallman Free software Song
Join us now and share the software;
You’ll be free, hackers, you’ll be free.
Hoarders may get piles of money,
That is true, hackers, that is true.
But they cannot help their neighbors;
That ain’t good, hackers,that ain’t good.
When we have enough free software
At our call, hackers, at our call,
We’ll kick out those dirty licenses
Ever more, hackers, ever more.
Join us now and share the software;
You’ll be free, hackers, you’ll be free.
Some Great Quotes from Richard M. Stallman
“I could have made money this way, and perhaps amused myself writing code. But I knew that at the end of my career, I would look back on years of building walls to divide people, and feel I had spent my life making the world a worse place”
“When I do this, some people think that it’s because I want my ego to be fed, right? Of course, I’m not asking you to call it “Stallmanix”!”
“I’m always happy when I’m protesting.”
“Geeks like to think that they can ignore politics, you can leave politics alone, but politics won’t leave you alone.”
“People sometimes ask me if it is a sin in the Church of Emacs to use vi. Using a free version of vi is not a sin; it is a penance. So happy hacking.”
“If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.”
“Fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria.”
“People said I should accept the world. Bullshit! I don’t accept the world.”
“Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is a bit like giving the Han Solo Award to the Rebel Alliance.”
“Would a dating service on the net be ‘frowned upon’ . . . ? I hope not. But even if it is, don’t let that stop you from notifying me via net mail if you start one.”