Free as in Freedom

2014 年我去浙江大学听了 Richard Stallman 的讲座。这是那之前看的一本书。我倒是想发自己和 Richard Stallman 隔了一米说话的照片,但是教主说不喜欢别人贴他的照片,只好作罢。1


If a program or software fix was good enough to solve your problems, it was good enough to solve somebody else’s problems. Why not share it out of a simple desire for good karma? (因果报应)


The viral GPL: spreads itself to every software program it touches.

I do free software, Open source is different movement. … like sharing recipies


“It made him so angry.” The anger eventually drove her son to focus on math and science all the more.

“I was weird. After a certain age, the only friends I had were teachers.” Stallman was not ashamed of his weird characteristics, distinguishing them from social ineptness(拙劣) that he did regard as a failing. However, both contributed together to his social exclusion.

A report: “The Geek Syndrome

“My father had a horrible temper. He never screamed, but he always found a way to criticize you in a cold, designed-to-crush way.”

Almost as if on cue, the corners of Stallman’s mouth slowly turned upward into a self-satisfied smile. “It was his silent way of saying, ‘That’s right. You haven’t got rid of me yet.’”


I didn’t like the counter culture much, I didn’t like the music. I didn’t like the drugs. I was scared of the drugs. I especially didn’t like the anti-intellectualism(反智主义), and I didn’t like the prejudice against technology. After all, I loved a computer.

Computer Lover

Computer Lover

And I didn’t like the mindless anti-Americanism that I often encountered.

“It’s the same reason I never liked chess, whenever I’d play, I would become so consumed by the fear of making a single mistake and losing that I would start making stupid mistakes very early in the game. The fear became a self-fulfilling prophecy.” He avoided the problem by not playing chess.

Members of the tight-knit group called themselves “hackers”. Over time, they extended the “hacker” description to Stallman as well.

Stallman might stay up all morning hacking, or might sleep Saturday morning on a couch. On waking he would hack some more, have another Chinese dinner, then go back to Harvard. These Chinese dinners were not only delicious; they also provided sustenance lacking in the Harvard dining halls, where on average only one meal a day included anything he could stomach.

Null-string campaign: Email from Richard Stallman:

I see you choose the password “starfish”. I suggest that you switch to the password “carriage return”, which is what I use. It’s easier to type, and also opposes the idea of passwords and security.


The Saint of Free Software”,


a disciple(信徒) seeing Jesus.

“That’s why I ask that when you refer to the operating system, please call it by its proper name, GNU/Linux.”

Giving the Linus Torvalds Award to the Free Software Foundation is a bit like giving the Han Solo Award to the Rebel Alliance.

Stallman has a tendency to block out all external stimuli while working. Watching his eyes lock onto the screen and his fingers dance, one quickly gets the sense of two old friends locked in deep conversation.

In India many people are interested in free software, because they see it as a way to build their computing infrasructure without spending a lot of money. In China, the concept has been much slower to catch on. Comparing the software to free speech is harder to do when you don’t have any free speech. Still, the level of interest in free software during my last visit was profound."


AI Lab: “It was a bit like the garden of Eden, it hadn’t occurred to us to cooperate.”

“I may have done a little bit more living at the lab than most people, because every year or two for some reason or other I’d have no apartment and I would spend a few months living at the lab. And I’ve always found it very comfortable, as well as nice and cool in the summer. But it was not at all uncommon to find people falling asleep at the lab, again because of their enthusiasm; you stay up as long as you possibly can hacking, because you just don’t want to stop. And when you’re completely exhausted, you climb over to the nearest soft horizontal surface. A very informal atmosphere.

Hacker life, however, was not without tragedy: no dorm, no dancing, no dates, then “I felt basically that I’d lost all my energy”

“A lot of people were angry with me, saying I was trying to hold them hostage or blackmail them…”

Over time, Emacs became a sales tool for the hacker ethic.

The programming session lasted 10 hours. Throughout that entire time, Steele says, neither he nor Stallman took a break or made any small talk. By the end of the session, they had managed to hack the pretty print source code to just under 100 lines. “My fingers were on the keyboard the whole time,” Steele recalls, “but it felt like both of our ideas were flowing onto the screen. He told me what to type, and I typed it.

Looking back, Steele says he found the Stallman mind-meld both exhilarating and scary at the same time. “My first thought afterward was that it was a great experience, very intense, and that I never wanted to do it again in my life.


An unusual message from rms:

Starting this Thanksgiving I am going to write a complete Unix-compatible software system called GNU (for Gnu’s Not Unix), and give it away free to everyone who can use it. Contributions of time, money, programs and equipment are greatly needed.

To an experienced Unix developer, the message was a mixture of idealism and hubris(狂妄自大).

The GNU system, the author predicted, would carry all the usual applications, a compiler, “and a few other things.” It would also contain many enticing (迷人的) features that other Unix systems didn’t yet offer: a graphic user interface based on the Lisp programming language, a crash-proof file system, and networking protocols built according to MIT’s internal networking system.

“GNU will be able to run Unix programs, but will not be identical to Unix, we will make all improvements that are convenient, based on our experience with other operating systems.”

“Who am I?”

I am Richard Stallman, inventor of the original much imitated EMACS editor, now at the Artificial Intelligence Lab at MIT. I have worked extensively on compilers, editors, debuggers, command interpreters, the Incompatible Time-sharing System and the Lisp Machine operating system. I pioneered terminal-independent one crash-proof file system and two window systems for Lisp machines.

Created by artificial-intelligence researcher during the late 1950s, Lisp is an elegant language, well-suited for writing complex programs to operate on data with irregular structure.

Wheel Privilege

MIT continued giving LMI direct access to the changes. “I was going to punish Symbolics if it was the last thing I did,” Stallman says. Such statements are revealing. Not only do they shed light on Stallman’s non pacifist nature, they also reflected the intense level of emotion triggered by the conflict.

The level of despair owed much to what Stallman viewed as the “destruction” of his “home” - i.e., the demise of the AI Lab’s close-knit hacker subculture.

One of the most notorious(声名狼藉的) of these programmers was Bill Gates, a Harvard dropout two years Stallman’s junior. Although Stallman didn’t know it at the time, seven years before sending out his message to thenet.unix-wizards newsgroup. Open Letter to Hobbyists had excoriated the notion of communal software development.

For a man who had spent the entire 1960s as a throwback to the 1950s, Stallman didn’t mind living out of step with his peers. As a programmer used to working with the best machines and the best software, however, Stallman faced what he could only describe as a stark moral choice”: either swallow his ethical objection for “proprietary(专利的)” software - the term Stallman nd his fellow hackers used to describe any software that carried copyright terms or an end-user license that restricted coping and modification - or dedicate his life to building an alternate, non-proprietary system of software programs.

After his two-year battle with Symbolics, Stallman felt confident enough to undertake the latter option. “I suppose I could have stopped working on computers altogether,” Stallman says, “I had no special skills, but I’m sure I could have become a waiter. Not at a fancy restaurant, probably, but I could’ve been a waiter somewhere.”

“The community reaction was pretty much uniform,” recalls Rich Morin, leader of a Unix user group at the time. “People said, ‘Oh, that’s a good idea. Show us your code. Show us it can be done.’

Aware that the job was enormous, Stallman decided to try to reuse existing free programs and tools that could be converted into GNU programs and tools. One of the first candidates was a compiler named VUCK, which converted programs written in the popular C programming language into machine-runnable code.

“He responded derisively(嘲笑地), stating that the university was free but the compiler was not,” recalls Stallman. He had not only refused to help - he suggested Stallman drop his plan to develop GNU, and instead write some add-ons to boost sales of VUCK, in return for a share of the profits. “I therefore decides that my first program for the GNU Project would be a multi-language, multi-platform compiler.” … Stallman eventually did this, producing the GNU C Compiler or GCC. But it was not clear in 1984 what to do about the compiler, so he decided to let those plans gel while turning his attention to other parts of GNU.

In September of 1984, thus, Stallman began development of a GNU version of Emacs, the replacement for the program he had been supervising for a decade. Within the Unix community, the two native editor programs were vi, written by Sun Microsystems cofounder Bill Joy, and ed, written by Bell Labs scientist (and Unix cocreator) Ken Thompson. Both were useful and popular, but either offered the endlessly expandable nature of Emacs.

I want an Emacs, and I had a good opportunity to develop one.

It would also force Stallman to sharpen the free software movement’s political objectives. Following the release of GNU Emacs in 1985, Stallman issued The GNU Manifesto, an expansion of the original announcement posted in September, 1983. Stallman included within the document a lengthy section devoted to the many arguments used by commercial and academic programmers to justify the proliferation of proprietary software programs.

With the release of GNU Emacs, the GNU Project finally had code to show. It also had the burdens of any software-based enterprise. As more and more Unix developers began playing with the software, money, gifts, and requests for tapes began to pour in. To address the business side of the GNU Project, Stallman drafted a few of his colleagues and formed the Free Software Foundation (FSF), a nonprofit organization dedicated to speeding the GNU Project towards its goal. With Stallman as president and various friends and hacker allies(同盟) as board members, the FSF helped provide a corporate face for the GNU Project.

The Unix wizards who once regards Stallman as a noisy kook were now beginning to see him as a software prophet or a software Cassandra, according as they felt hope or despair over escaping the problems he identified.


“Some people say to me, ‘Why make such a fuss about getting credit for this system? After all, the important thing is the job is done, not whether you get recognition for it.’ Well, this would be wise advice if it were true. But the job wasn’t to build an operating system; the job is to spread freedom to the users of computers. And to do that we have to make it possible to do every thing with computers in freedom.” Adds Stallman, “There’s a lot more work to do.

“Somebody once said my voice was so smoothing, he asked if I was some kind of healer,” says Stallman, drawing a quick laugh from the crowd.

Eric Raymond, “Shut Up and Show Them the Code

RMS’s rhetoric(花言巧语的) is very seductive to the kind of people we are. We hackers are thinkers and idealists who readily resonate(共振) with appeals to “principle” and “freedom” and “rights.” Even when we disagree with bits of his program, we want RMS’s rhetorical style to work; we think it ought to work; we tend to be puzzled and disbelieving when it fails on the 95% of people who aren’t wired like we are.

RMS: Raymond’s attempt to explain our failure is misleading because we have not failed. Our goal is large, and we have a long way to go, but we have also come a long way.

It was the ethical ideals of free software, not “better software,” which persuaded the presidents of Ecuador and Brazil to move government agencies to free software. They are not geeks, but they understand freedom.

“Emacs was initially a text editor,” says Stallman, explaining the getup. “Eventually it become a way of life for many and a religion for some. We call this religion the Church of Emacs.”

I am a Saint in the Church of Emacs

I am a Saint in the Church of Emacs

I am St. Ignucius of the Church of Emacs and I bless your computer, my child. Long may you run.

St. Ignucius on an AMD64

Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman

When nobody throws their hand up, Stallman signs off with a traditional exit line. “Happy hacking”, he says.

(这个 “exit line” 应该指的就是 “nobody throws their hand up”)

(By the way, 刚看到 RMS 的一则“征婚广告”)


By the spring of 1985, Richard Stallman had produced the GNU Project’s first useful result - a Lisp-based version of Emacs for Unix-like operating systems. To make it available to others as free software, he had to develop the way to release it - in effect, the follow-on for the Emacs Commune.

In a rare alteration of free software doctrine, Stallman slashed(削减) the “price tag” for free software. Users could innovate without Stallman looking over their shoulders, and distribute their versions only when they wished, just so long as all copies came with permission for their possessors to develop and redistribute them further.

By the end of 1986, Stallman himself was at work with GNU Project’s next major milestone, the source-code debugger GDB. To release this, he had to modify the GNU Emacs license so it applied to GDB instead of GNU Emacs. It was not a big job, but it was an opening for possible errors. In 1989, Stallman figured out how to remove the specific references to Emacs, and express the connection between the program code and the license solely in the program’s source files. This way, any developer could apply the license in the program without changing the license. The GNU General Public License, GNU GPL for short, was born. The GNU Project soon made it the official license of all existing GNU programs.

While not religious per se, the GNU GPL certainly qualifies as an interesting example of this “routinization” process at work in the modern, decentralized world of software development. Since its unveiling, programmers and companies who have otherwise expressed little loyalty or allegiance to Stallman have willingly accepted the GPL bargain at face value. Thousands have also accepted the GPL as a preemptive protective mechanism for their own software programs. Even those who reject the GPL conditions as too limiting still credit it as influential.

Such commercial exploitation was completely consistent with the free software agenda. “When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not price,” advised Stallman in the GPL’s preamble. By the late 1980s, Stallman had refined it to a more simple mnemonic(助记的): “Don’t think free as in free beer; think free as in free speech.

“Just as every writer dreams of writing the great American novel, every programmer back in the 1980s talked about writing the great American compiler,”Tiemman recalls. “Suddenly Stallman had done it. It was very humbling(cause (someone) to feel less important or proud).”

“You talk about single points of failure, GCC was it,” echoes Bostic. “Nobody had a compiler back then, until GCC came along.

Rather than compete with Stallman, Tiemann decided to build on top of his work. The original version of GCC weighed in at 110,000 lines of code, but Tiemann recalls the program as surprisingly easy to understand. So easy in fact that Tiemann says it took less than five days to master and another week to port the software to a new hardware platform, National Semiconductor’s 32032 microchip. Over the next year, Tiemann began playing around with the source code, creating the first “native” or direct compiler for the C++ programming language, by extending GCC to handle C++ as well as C.

Tiemann found added inspiration in the GNU Manifesto: while excoriating the greed of proprietary software vendors, it also encourages companies, as long as they respect users freedom, to use and redistribute free software in their commercial activities. By removing the power of monopoly(专卖权) from the commercial software question, the GPL makes it possible for even small companies to compete on the basic of service, which extends from simple tech support to training to extending free programs for specific clients’ needs.

In the 1990s, GNU also developed a command line interpreter or “shell”, which was an extended replacement for the Bourne Shell (written by FSF employee Brain Fox, and christended by Stallman the Bourne Again Shell, or BASH), as well as the PostScript interpreter Ghostscript, the documentation browser platform Textinfo, the C Library which C programs need in order to run and talk to the system’s kernel, the spreadsheet Oleo (“better for you than the more expensive spreadsheet”), and even a fairly good chess game.However, programmers were typically most interested in the GNU programming tools.

GNU Emacs, GDB, and GCC were the “big three” of developer-oriented tools, but they weren’t the only ones developed by the GNU Project in the 80s. By 1990, GNU had also generated GNU versions of the build-controller Make, the parse-generator YACC (rechristended Bison), and awk (rechristened gawk); as well as dozens more. Like GCC, GNU programs were usually designed to run on multiple systems, not just a single vendor’s platform. In the process of making programs more flexible, Stallman and his collaborators often made them more useful as well.

According to Stallman, improving technically on the components of Unix was secondary to replacing them with free software. “With each piece I may or may not find a way to improve it,” said Stallman to BYTE. “To some extent I am getting the benefit of reimplementation, which makes many systems much better. To some extent it’s because I have been in the field a long time and worked on many other systems. I therefore have many ideas to bring to bear.

As the GNU Project moved from success to success in creation of user-level programs and libraries, it postponed development of the kernel, the central “traffic cop” program that controls other programs’ access to the processor and all machine resources.

A student at the nearby University of Helsinki at the time, Torvalds regarded Stallman with bemusement. “I saw, for the first time in my life, the stereotypical(老一套的) long-haired, beared hacker type,” recalls Torvalds in his 2001 autobiography Just for Fun. We don’t have much of them in Helsinki."

While not exactly attuned(协调) to the “sociopolitical” side of the Stallman agenda, Torvalds nevertheless appreciated one aspect of the agenda’s users have no wish to adapt a program to their specific preferences, any program can use improvement. By sharing software, hackers put a program’s improvement ahead of individual motivations such as greed or ego protection.

Feeling ambitious, he solicited a Minix newsgroup for copies of the POSIX standards, the specifications for a Unix-compatible kernel. A few weeks later, having put his kernel together with some GNU programs and adapted them to work with it, Torvalds was posting a message reminiscent of Stallman’s original 1983 GNU posting:2

Hello everybody out there using minix -

I’m doing a (free) operating system (just a hobby, won’t be big and professional like gnu) for 386(486) AT clones. This has been brewing since april, and is starting to get ready. I’d like any feedback on things people like/dislike in minix, as my OS resembles it somewhat (same physical layout of the file-system (due to practical reasons) among other things).

I’ve currently ported bash(1.08) and gcc(1.40), and things seem to work. This implies that I’ll get something practical within a few months, and I’d like to know what features most people would want. Any suggestions are welcome, but I won’t promise I’ll implement them :-)

By 1994, the amalgamated system had earned enough respect in the hacker world to make some observers from the business world wonder if Torvalds hadn’t given away the farm by switching to the GPL is the project’s initial months.

As far as Torvalds was concerned, he was simply the latest in a long line of kids taking apart and reassembling things just for fun. Nevertheless, when summing up the runaway success of a project that could have just as easily spent the rest of its days on an abandoned computer hard drive, Torvalds credits his younger self for having the wisdom to give up control and accept the GPL bargain.

I may not have seen the light,” writes Torvalds, reflecting on Stallman’s 1991 Polytechnic University speech and his subsequent decision to switch to the GPL. “But I guess sometimes from his speech sunk in.


For one thing, it underlined the lack of an ideological agenda on Torvalds’ part. Unlike the GNU developers, Torvalds hadn’t built his kernel out of a desire to give his fellow hackers freedom; he’d built it to have something he himself could play with. So what exactly was the combination system, and which philosophy would people associate it with? Was it a manifestation of the free software philosophy first articulated by Stallman in the GNU Manifesto? Or was it simply an amalgamation of nifty software tools that any users, similarly motivated, could assemble on his own home system?

Although late to the party, Stallman still had clout. As soon as the FSF announced that it would lend its money and moral support to Murdock’s software project, other offers of support began rolling in. Murdock dubbed the new project Debian - a compression of his and his wife, Deborah’s, names - and within a few weeks was roolling out the first distribution. “(Richard’s support) catapulted Debian almost overnight from this interesting little project to something people within the community had to pay attention to,” Murdock says.

Shortly after the Manifesto’s release, the Free Software Foundation made its first major request. Stallman wanted Murdock to call its distribution “GNU/Linux.” At first, Stallman proposed the term “Lignux” - combining the names Linux and GNU - but the initial reaction was very negative, and this convinced Stallman to go with the longer but less criticized GNU/Linux.

Some dismissed Stallman’s attempt to add the “GNU” prefix as a belated quest for credit, never mind whether it was due, but Murdock saw it differently. Looking back, Murdock saw it was an attempt to counteract the growing tension between the GNU Project’s developers and those who adapted GNU programs to use with the Linux kernel. “There was a split emerging,” Murdock recalls. “Richard was concerned.

In the hacker world, forks are an interesting issue. Although the hacker ethic permits a programmer to do anything he wants with a given program’s source code, it is considered correct behavior to offer to work with original developer to maintain a joint version. Hackers usually find it useful, as well as proper, to pour their improvements into the program’s principal version. A free software license gives every hacker the right to fork a program, and sometimes it is necessary, but doing so without need or cause is considered somewhat rude.

As leader of the GNU Project, Stallman had already experienced the negative effects of a software fork in 1991. Says Stallman, “Lucid hired several people to write improvements to GNU Emacs, meant to be contributions to it; but the developers did not inform me about the project. Instead they designed several new features on their own. As you might expect, I agreed with some of their decisions and disagreed with others. They asked me to incorporate all their code, but when I said I wanted to use about half of it, they declined to help me adapt that halt to work on it own. I had to do it on my own.” The fork had given birth to a parallel version, Lucid Emacs, and hard feelings all around.

“I remember after Stallman had already come out with the GNU Manifesto, GNU Emacs, and GCC, I read an article that said he was working as a consultant for Intel,” says Perens, recalling his first brush with Stallman in the lat 1980s. “I wrote him asking how he could be advocating free software on the one hand and working for Intel on the other. He wrote back saying, ‘I work as a consultant to produce free software.’ He was perfectly polite about it, and I thought his answer made perfect sense.”

Young(Robert Young, the former Linux Journal editor) wasn’t the only software executive intrigued by the business efficiencies of free software. By late 1996, most Unix companies were starting to wake up and smell the brewing source code.

Most of them installed distributions came with nonfree software; with Torvalds as their ethical guide, they saw no principled reason to reject it. Still, a precarious freedom was available for those that appreciated it.

Open Source link

Over the past 15 years, free and low-cost software has become ubiquitous. This conference will bring together implementers of several different types of freely redistributable software and publishers of such software (on various media). There will be tutorials and refereed papers, as well as keynotes by Linus Torvalds and Richard Stallman.

“Richard kicked up a fuss about my making unauthorized modifications when I was cleaning up the Emacs LISP libraries,” Raymond recalls. “It frustrated me so much that I decided I didn’t want to work with him anymore.

The ultimate breach of taboo would come near the end of the show. During a discussion on the growing market dominance of Microsoft Windows or some similar topic, Torvalds admitted to being a fan of Microsoft’s PowerPoint slideshow software program. From the perspective of old-line software purists, it was like a Mormon bragging in church about his fondness of whiskey. From the perspective of Torvalds and his growing band of followers, it was simply common sense. Why shun worthy proprietary software programs just to make a point? Being a hacker wasn’t about suffering, it was about getting the job done.

Stallman, for his part, doesn’t remember any tension at the 1996 conference, but he does remember later feeling the sting of Torvalds’ celebrated(well-known) cheekiness(immodest). “There was a thing in the Linux documentation which says print out the GNU coding standards and then tear them up,” says Stallman, recalling one example. “OK, so he disagrees with some of our conventions. That’s fine, but he picked a singularly nasty way of saying so. He could have just said `Here’s the way I think you should indent your code.’ Fine. There should be no hostility there.”

As a former GNU Project member, Raymond sensed an added dynamic to the tension between Stallman and Torvalds. In the decade since launching the GNU Project, Stallman had built up a fearsome reputation as a programmer. He had also built up a reputation for intransigence(refusing to compromise or agree) both in terms of software design and people management.

What’s more, Raymond decided, Torvalds had found a way around Brooks’ Law. First articulated by Fred P. Brooks, manager of IBM’s OS/360 project and author of the 1975 book, The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks’ Law held that adding developers to a project only resulted in further project delays. Believing as most hackers that software, like soup, benefits from a limited number of cooks, Raymond sensed something revolutionary at work. In inviting more and more cooks into the kitchen, Torvalds had actually found away to make the resulting software better.

Eventually, Raymond would convert the speech into a paper, also titled “The Cathedral and the Bazaar.” The paper drew its name from Raymond’s central analogy. GNU programs were “cathedrals,” impressive, centrally planned monuments to the hacker ethic, built to stand the test of time. Linux, on the other hand, was more like “a great babbling bazaar,” a software program developed through the loose decentralizing dynamics of the Internet.

Implicit within each analogy was a comparison of Stallman and Torvalds. Where Stallman served as the classic model of the cathedral architect-i.e., a programming “wizard” who could disappear for 18 months and return with something like the GNU C Compiler-Torvalds was more like a genial(warm) dinner-party host. In letting others lead the Linux design discussion and stepping in only when the entire table needed a referee, Torvalds had created a development model very much reflective of his own laid-back(easy-going) personality. From the Torvalds’ perspective, the most important managerial task was not imposing control but keeping the ideas flowing.

Then again, as the recent debate over open source also shows, in instances when Stallman has stuck to his guns(stuck to: infatuated with), he’s usually found a way to gain ground because of it. “One of Stallman’s primary character traits is the fact he doesn’t budge,” says Ian Murdock. “He’ll wait up to a decade for people to come around to his point of view if that’s what it takes.”

Murdock, for one, finds that unbudgeable nature both refreshing and valuable. Stallman may no longer be the solitary leader of the free software movement, but he is still the polestar of the free software community. “You always know that he’s going to be consistent in his views,” Murdock says. “Most people aren’t like that. Whether you agree with him or not, you really have to respect that.

A brief Journey Through Hacker Hell link

“It’s as if he picked this route with absolutely no thought on how to get there efficiently,” Stallman says. The word “efficiently” hangs in the air like a bad odor(fragrance). Few things irritate the hacker mind more than inefficiency. It was the inefficiency of checking the Xerox laser printer two or three times a day that triggered Stallman’s initial inquiry into the printer source code. It was the inefficiency of rewriting software tools hijacked by commercial software vendors that led Stallman to battle Symbolics and to launch the GNU Project. If, as Jean Paul Sartre once opined, hell is other people, hacker hell is duplicating other people’s stupid mistakes, and it’s no exaggeration to say that Stallman’s entire life has been an attempt to save mankind from these fiery depths.

Stallman accents the words “my way” by gripping the steering wheel and pulling himself towards it twice. The image of Stallman’s lurching frame is like that of a child throwing a temper tantrum in a car seat, an image further underlined by the tone of Stallman’s voice. Halfway between anger and anguish, Stallman seems to be on the verge of tears.

Continuing the Fight link

For Richard Stallman, time may not heal all wounds, but it does provide a convenient ally.

Four years after " The Cathedral and the Bazaar," Stallman still chafes over the Raymond critique. He also grumbles over Linus Torvalds’ elevation to the role of world’s most famous hacker.

At the time, Boerries said his company’s decision had little to do with Stallman and more to do with the momentum of GPL-protected programs. “What basically happened was the recognition that different products attracted different communities, and the license you use depends on what type of community you want to attract,” said Boerries. “With [OpenOffice], it was clear we had the highest correlation with the GPL community.”

As for Stallman himself, he, too, sees mixed signals:

What history says about the GNU Project, twenty years from now, will depend on who wins the battle of freedom to use public knowledge. If we lose, we will be just a footnote. If we win, it is uncertain whether people will know the role of the GNU operating system-if they think the system is “Linux,” they will build a false picture of what happened and why.

But even if we win, what history people learn a hundred years from now is likely to depend on who dominates politically.

“It was funny,” recalls Moglen. “I said to him, `Richard, you know, you and I are the two guys who didn’t make any money out of this revolution.‘And then I paid for the lunch, because I knew he didn’t have the money to pay for it .’”

Epilogue: Crushing Loneliness link

“I’d be willing to accept something like that,” Stallman said. “As long as it also permitted verbatim copying.

The GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), meanwhile, permits the copying and distribution of a document in any medium, provided the resulting work carries the same license. It also permits the modification of a document provided certain conditions. Unlike the OPL, however, it does not give authors the option to restrict certain modifications. It also does not give authors the right to reject modifications that might result in a competitive book product. It does require certain forms of front- and back-cover information if a party other than the copyright holder wishes to publish more than 100 copies of a protected work, however.

pleasure card

pleasure card

While I’m sure not every reader feels the same level of affinity(agree) for Stallman-indeed, after reading this book, some might feel zero affinity-I’m sure most will agree. Few individuals offer as singular a human portrait as Richard M. Stallman. It is my sincere hope that, with this initial portrait complete and with the help of the GFDL, others will feel a similar urge to add their own perspective to that portrait.

Appendix A: Terminology link


free software, open source

the terms are completely interchangeable

Appendix B: Hack, Hackers, and Hacking link

A classic example of this expanded hacking definition is the game Spacewar, the first interactive video game. Developed by MIT hackers in the early 1960s, Spacewar had all the traditional hacking definitions: it was goofy and random, serving little useful purpose other than providing a nightly distraction for the dozen or so hackers who delighted in playing it. From a software perspective, however, it was a monumental testament to innovation of programming skill. It was also completely free. Because hackers had built it for fun, they saw no reason to guard their creation, sharing it extensively with other programmers. By the end of the 1960s, Spacewar had become a favorite diversion for mainframe programmers around the world.

In the culture of hacking, an elegant, simple creation is as highly valued as it is in pure science,” writes Boston Globe reporter Randolph Ryan in a 1993 article attached to the police car exhibit. “A Hack differs from the ordinary college prank in that the event usually requires careful planning, engineering and finesse, and has an underlying wit and inventiveness,” Ryan writes. “The unwritten rule holds that a hack should be good-natured, non-destructive and safe. In fact, hackers sometimes assist in dismantling their own handiwork.

Appendix C: GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL) link

The purpose of this License is to make a manual, textbook, or other written document “free” in the sense of freedom

We have designed this License in order to use it for manuals for free software, because free software needs free documentation: a free program should come with manuals providing the same freedoms that the software does. But this License is not limited to software manuals; it can be used for any textual work, regardless of subject matter or whether it is published as a printed book. We recommend this License principally for works whose purpose is instruction or reference.

Julian Assange & Richard Stallman, holding a photo of Snowden

Julian Assange & Richard Stallman, holding a photo of Snowden


  1. Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman and the Free Software Revolution
  2. Free as in Freedom (Openbook, 免费开放电子书)

  1. 其实我都不知道那个照片在哪儿还有备份,我都找不到……了。我忘了密码的 OneDrive 里?

  2. 这段历史很有意思。