Richard Stallman


Here is an item from Richard Stallman which I find both compelling and sad. After I have struggled hard with GNU/Linux – I now learn that the kernel nay not be free (in the sense of having all the sources available). I have never seen my foray into this area as solely technical but always as part of a sort of noosphere probe. It still is that of course but what my probe is revealing is how big this battle for freedom is. This is not libertarian freedom either – but freedom for people to be able to work together to be creative. Freedom for one generation to be able to build on the creations of the previous. Which is the exact opposite of the freedom to build private empires.

It is very like theological debate isn’t it. I am not really up with the history of that but I imagine whole churches split over such finery. I know I can’t be that ideologically pure – but I am glad that RMS is.

I am not a programmer but I do make web pages and I’d never have been able to do that without the “source” button actually working. Imagine a web that was not open source in that way. It would not have happened at all. What is closed software preventing today?

Psychological roots of political life

Free as in Freedom
Richard Stallman’s Crusade for Free Software

The whole of this book is online.


“”If anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution,” Stallman wrote. “Creativity can be a social contribution, but only in so far [sic] as society is free to use the results. 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.”

I like that line from Chapter 7. I think that reward could well come from taxes – more govt payment for free software.

Edit: 20 April 2002

“I really admired the way Richard built up an entire political movement to address an issue of profound personal concern,” Sarah said, explaining her attraction to Stallman.

My wife immediately threw back the question: “What was the issue?”

“Crushing loneliness.”

Fascinating comment… the idea we do political things for personal reasons. I buy it. I am glad RMS has such a psychologically minded friend – I hope it is working out for them. But there would be an interesting twist to entertain: He had to set up a life of crushing loneliness so that he could fulfil his destiny as a political leader.