Chapter 11
Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software

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Table of Contents

Copyright

Preface

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Project Gutenburg

In November , 1995, Peter Salus, a member of the Free
Software Foundation and author of the 1994 book, A
Quarter Century of Unix , issued a call for papers to
members of the GNU Project's "system-discuss" mailing
list. Salus, the conference's scheduled chairman,
wanted to tip off fellow hackers about the upcoming
Conference on Freely Redistributable Software in
Cambridge, Massachusetts. Slated for February, 1996 and
sponsored by the Free Software Foundation, the event
promised to be the first engineering conference solely
dedicated to free software and, in a show of unity with
other free software programmers, welcomed papers on
"any aspect of GNU, Linux, NetBSD, 386BSD, FreeBSD,
Perl, Tcl/tk, and other tools for which the code is
accessible and redistributable." Salus wrote: 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.See Peter Salus, "FYI-Conference on Freely
Redistributable Software, 2/2, Cambridge" (1995)
(archived by Terry Winograd).

http://hci.stanford.edu/pcd-archives/pcd-fyi/1995/0078.html
 One of the first people to receive Salus' email was
conference committee member Eric S. Raymond. Although
not the leader of a project or company like the various
other members of the list, Raymond had built a tidy
reputation within the hacker community as a major
contributor to GNU Emacs and as editor of The New
Hacker Dictionary, a book version of the hacking
community's decade-old Jargon File.

For Raymond, the 1996 conference was a welcome event.
Active in the GNU Project during the 1980s, Raymond had
distanced himself from the project in 1992, citing,
like many others before him, Stallman's
"micro-management" style. "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."

Despite the falling out, Raymond remained active in the
free software community. So much so that when Salus
suggested a conference pairing Stallman and Torvalds as
keynote speakers, Raymond eagerly seconded the idea.
With Stallman representing the older, wiser contingent
of ITS/Unix hackers and Torvalds representing the
younger, more energetic crop of Linux hackers, the
pairing indicated a symbolic show of unity that could
only be beneficial, especially to ambitious younger
(i.e., below 40) hackers such as Raymond. "I sort of
had a foot in both camps," Raymond says.

By the time of the conference, the tension between
those two camps had become palpable. Both groups had
one thing in common, though: the conference was their
first chance to meet the Finnish wunderkind in the
flesh. Surprisingly, Torvalds proved himself to be a
charming, affable speaker. Possessing only a slight
Swedish accent, Torvalds surprised audience members
with his quick, self-effacing wit.Although Linus Torvalds is Finnish, his
mother tongue
is Swedish. "The Rampantly Unofficial Linus FAQ" offers
a brief explanation: Finland has a significant (about
6%) Swedish-speaking minority population. They call
themselves "finlandssvensk" or "finlandssvenskar" and
consider themselves Finns; many of their families have
lived in Finland for centuries. Swedish is one of
Finland's two official languages.
http://tuxedo.org/~esr/faqs/linus/
 Even more surprising, says Raymond, was Torvalds'
equal willingness to take potshots at other prominent
hackers, including the most prominent hacker of all,
Richard Stallman. By the end of the conference,
Torvalds' half-hacker, half-slacker manner was winning
over older and younger conference-goers alike.

"It was a pivotal moment," recalls Raymond. "Before
1996, Richard was the only credible claimant to being
the ideological leader of the entire culture. People
who dissented didn't do so in public. The person who
broke that taboo was Torvalds."

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.

"That was a pretty shocking thing to say," Raymond
remembers. "Then again, he was able to do that, because
by 1995 and 1996, he was rapidly acquiring clout."

Stallman, for his part, doesn't remember any tension at
the 1996 conference, but he does remember later feeling
the sting of Torvalds' celebrated cheekiness. "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."

For Raymond, the warm reception other hackers gave to
Torvalds' comments merely confirmed his suspicions. The
dividing line separating Linux developers from
GNU/Linux developers was largely generational. Many
Linux hackers, like Torvalds, had grown up in a world
of proprietary software. Unless a program was clearly
inferior, most saw little reason to rail against a
program on licensing issues alone. Somewhere in the
universe of free software systems lurked a program that
hackers might someday turn into a free software
alternative to PowerPoint. Until then, why begrudge
Microsoft the initiative of developing the program and
reserving the rights to it?

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 both
in terms of software design and people management.
Shortly before the 1996 conference, the Free Software
Foundation would experience a full-scale staff
defection, blamed in large part on Stallman. Brian
Youmans, a current FSF staffer hired by Salus in the
wake of the resignations, recalls the scene: "At one
point, Peter [Salus] was the only staff member working
in the office."

For Raymond, the defection merely confirmed a growing
suspicion: recent delays such as the HURD and recent
troubles such as the Lucid-Emacs schism reflected
problems normally associated with software project
management, not software code development. Shortly
after the Freely Redistributable Software Conference,
Raymond began working on his own pet software project,
a popmail utility called " fetchmail." Taking a cue
from Torvalds, Raymond issued his program with a
tacked-on promise to update the source code as early
and as often as possible. When users began sending in
bug reports and feature suggestions, Raymond, at first
anticipating a tangled mess, found the resulting
software surprisingly sturdy. Analyzing the success of
the Torvalds approach, Raymond issued a quick analysis:
using the Internet as his "petri dish" and the harsh
scrutiny of the hacker community as a form of natural
selection, Torvalds had created an evolutionary model
free of central planning.

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.Brooks' Law

is the shorthand summary of the following
quote taken from Brooks' book: Since software
construction is inherently a systems effort-an exercise
in complex interrelationships-communication effort is
great, and it quickly dominates the decrease in
individual task time brought about by partitioning.
Adding more men then lengthens, not shortens, the
schedule. See Fred P. Brooks, The Mythical Man-Month
(Addison Wesley Publishing, 1995)

Raymond put his observations on paper. He crafted them
into a speech, which he promptly delivered before a
group of friends and neighbors in Chester County,
Pennsylvania. Dubbed " The Cathedral and the Bazaar,"
the speech contrasted the management styles of the GNU
Project with the management style of Torvalds and the
kernel hackers. Raymond says the response was
enthusiastic, but not nearly as enthusiastic as the one
he received during the 1997 Linux Kongress, a gathering
of Linux users in Germany the next spring.

"At the Kongress, they gave me a standing ovation at
the end of the speech," Raymond recalls. "I took that
as significant for two reasons. For one thing, it meant
they were excited by what they were hearing. For
another thing, it meant they were excited even after
hearing the speech delivered through a language barrier."

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 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
personality. From the Torvalds' perspective, the most
important managerial task was not imposing control but
keeping the ideas flowing.

Summarized Raymond, "I think Linus's cleverest and most
consequential hack was not the construction of the
Linux kernel itself, but rather his invention of the
Linux development model."See Eric Raymond,

"The Cathredral and the Bazaar"(1997).

In summarizing the secrets of Torvalds' managerial
success, Raymond himself had pulled off a coup. One of
the audience members at the Linux Kongress was Tim
O'Reilly, publisher of O'Reilly & Associates, a company
specializing in software manuals and software-related
books (and the publisher of this book). After hearing
Raymond's Kongress speech, O'Reilly promptly invited
Raymond to deliver it again at the company's inaugural
Perl Conference later that year in Monterey, California.

Although the conference was supposed to focus on Perl,
a scripting language created by Unix hacker Larry Wall,
O'Reilly assured Raymond that the conference would
address other free software technologies. Given the
growing commercial interest in Linux and Apache, a
popular free software web server, O'Reilly hoped to use
the event to publicize the role of free software in
creating the entire infrastructure of the Internet.
From web-friendly languages such as Perl and Python to
back-room programs such as BIND (the Berkeley Internet
Naming Daemon), a software tool that lets users replace
arcane IP numbers with the easy-to-remember domain-name
addresses (e.g., amazon.com), and sendmail, the most
popular mail program on the Internet, free software had
become an emergent phenomenon. Like a colony of ants
creating a beautiful nest one grain of sand at a time,
the only thing missing was the communal self-awareness.
O'Reilly saw Raymond's speech as a good way to inspire
that self-awareness, to drive home the point that free
software development didn't start and end with the GNU
Project. Programming languages, such as Perl and
Python, and Internet software, such as BIND, sendmail,
and Apache, demonstrated that free software was already
ubiquitous and influential. He also assured Raymond an
even warmer reception than the one at Linux Kongress.

O'Reilly was right. "This time, I got the standing
ovation before the speech," says Raymond, laughing.

As predicted, the audience was stocked not only with
hackers, but with other people interested in the
growing power of the free software movement. One
contingent included a group from Netscape, the Mountain
View, California startup then nearing the end game of
its three-year battle with Microsoft for control of the
web-browser market.

Intrigued by Raymond's speech and anxious to win back
lost market share, Netscape executives took the message
back to corporate headquarters. A few months later, in
January, 1998, the company announced its plan to
publish the source code of its flagship Navigator web
browser in the hopes of enlisting hacker support in
future development.

When Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale cited Raymond's
"Cathedral and the Bazaar" essay as a major influence
upon the company's decision, the company instantly
elevated Raymond to the level of hacker celebrity.
Determined not to squander the opportunity, Raymond
traveled west to deliver interviews, advise Netscape
executives, and take part in the eventual party
celebrating the publication of Netscape Navigator's
source code. The code name for Navigator's source code
was "Mozilla": a reference both to the program's
gargantuan size-30 million lines of code-and to its
heritage. Developed as a proprietary offshoot of
Mosaic, the web browser created by Marc Andreessen at
the University of Illinois, Mozilla was proof, yet
again, that when it came to building new programs, most
programmers preferred to borrow on older, modifiable programs.

While in California, Raymond also managed to squeeze in
a visit to VA Research, a Santa Clara-based company
selling workstations with the GNU/Linux operating
system preinstalled. Convened by Raymond, the meeting
was small. The invite list included VA founder Larry
Augustin, a few VA employees, and Christine Peterson,
president of the Foresight Institute, a Silicon Valley
think tank specializing in nanotechnology.

"The meeting's agenda boiled down to one item: how to
take advantage of Netscape's decision so that other
companies might follow suit?" Raymond doesn't recall
the conversation that took place, but he does remember
the first complaint addressed. Despite the best efforts
of Stallman and other hackers to remind people that the
word "free" in free software stood for freedom and not
price, the message still wasn't getting through. Most
business executives, upon hearing the term for the
first time, interpreted the word as synonymous with
"zero cost," tuning out any follow up messages in short
order. Until hackers found a way to get past this
cognitive dissonance, the free software movement faced
an uphill climb, even after Netscape.

Peterson, whose organization had taken an active
interest in advancing the free software cause, offered
an alternative: open source.

Looking back, Peterson says she came up with the open
source term while discussing Netscape's decision with a
friend in the public relations industry. She doesn't
remember where she came upon the term or if she
borrowed it from another field, but she does remember
her friend disliking the term.5

At the meeting, Peterson says, the response was
dramatically different. "I was hesitant about
suggesting it," Peterson recalls. "I had no standing
with the group, so started using it casually, not
highlighting it as a new term." To Peterson's surprise,
the term caught on. By the end of the meeting, most of
the attendees, including Raymond, seemed pleased by it.

Raymond says he didn't publicly use the term "open
source" as a substitute for free software until a day
or two after the Mozilla launch party, when O'Reilly
had scheduled a meeting to talk about free software.
Calling his meeting "the Freeware Summit," O'Reilly
says he wanted to direct media and community attention
to the other deserving projects that had also
encouraged Netscape to release Mozilla. "All these guys
had so much in common, and I was surprised they didn't
all know each other," says O'Reilly. "I also wanted to
let the world know just how great an impact the free
software culture had already made. People were missing
out on a large part of the free software tradition."

In putting together the invite list, however, O'Reilly
made a decision that would have long-term political
consequences. He decided to limit the list to
west-coast developers such as Wall, Eric Allman,
creator of sendmail, and Paul Vixie, creator of BIND.
There were exceptions, of course: Pennsylvania-resident
Raymond, who was already in town thanks to the Mozilla
launch, earned a quick invite. So did Virginia-resident
Guido van Rossum, creator of Python. "Frank Willison,
my editor in chief and champion of Python within the
company, invited him without first checking in with
me," O'Reilly recalls. "I was happy to have him there,
but when I started, it really was just a local gathering."

For some observers, the unwillingness to include
Stallman's name on the list qualified as a snub. "I
decided not to go to the event because of it," says
Perens, remembering the summit. Raymond, who did go,
says he argued for Stallman's inclusion to no avail.
The snub rumor gained additional strength from the fact
that O'Reilly, the event's host, had feuded publicly
with Stallman over the issue of software-manual
copyrights. Prior to the meeting, Stallman had argued
that free software manuals should be as freely copyable
and modifiable as free software programs. O'Reilly,
meanwhile, argued that a value-added market for nonfree
books increased the utility of free software by making
it more accessible to a wider community. The two had
also disputed the title of the event, with Stallman
insisting on "Free Software" over the less politically
laden "Freeware."

Looking back, O'Reilly doesn't see the decision to
leave Stallman's name off the invite list as a snub.
"At that time, I had never met Richard in person, but
in our email interactions, he'd been inflexible and
unwilling to engage in dialogue. I wanted to make sure
the GNU tradition was represented at the meeting, so I
invited John Gilmore and Michael Tiemann, whom I knew
personally, and whom I knew were passionate about the
value of the GPL but seemed more willing to engage in a
frank back-and-forth about the strengths and weaknesses
of the various free software projects and traditions.
Given all the later brouhaha, I do wish I'd invited
Richard as well, but I certainly don't think that my
failure to do so should be interpreted as a lack of
respect for the GNU Project or for Richard personally."

Snub or no snub, both O'Reilly and Raymond say the term
"open source" won over just enough summit-goers to
qualify as a success. The attendees shared ideas and
experiences and brainstormed on how to improve free
software's image. Of key concern was how to point out
the successes of free software, particularly in the
realm of Internet infrastructure, as opposed to playing
up the GNU/Linux challenge to Microsoft Windows. But
like the earlier meeting at VA, the discussion soon
turned to the problems associated with the term "free
software." O'Reilly, the summit host, remembers a
particularly insightful comment from Torvalds, a summit attendee.

"Linus had just moved to Silicon Valley at that point,
and he explained how only recently that he had learned
that the word `free' had two meanings-free as in
`libre' and free as in `gratis'-in English."

Michael Tiemann, founder of Cygnus, proposed an
alternative to the troublesome "free software" term:
sourceware. "Nobody got too excited about it," O'Reilly
recalls. "That's when Eric threw out the term `open source.'"

Although the term appealed to some, support for a
change in official terminology was far from unanimous.
At the end of the one-day conference, attendees put the
three terms-free software, open source, or
sourceware-to a vote. According to O'Reilly, 9 out of
the 15 attendees voted for "open source." Although some
still quibbled with the term, all attendees agreed to
use it in future discussions with the press. "We wanted
to go out with a solidarity message," O'Reilly says.

The term didn't take long to enter the national
lexicon. Shortly after the summit, O'Reilly shepherded
summit attendees to a press conference attended by
reporters from the New York Times, the Wall Street
Journal, and other prominent publications. Within a few
months, Torvalds' face was appearing on the cover of
Forbes magazine, with the faces of Stallman, Perl
creator Larry Wall, and Apache team leader Brian
Behlendorf featured in the interior spread. Open source
was open for business.

For summit attendees such as Tiemann, the solidarity
message was the most important thing. Although his
company had achieved a fair amount of success selling
free software tools and services, he sensed the
difficulty other programmers and entrepreneurs faced.

"There's no question that the use of the word free was
confusing in a lot of situations," Tiemann says. "Open
source positioned itself as being business friendly and
business sensible. Free software positioned itself as
morally righteous. For better or worse we figured it
was more advantageous to align with the open source crowd.

For Stallman, the response to the new "open source"
term was slow in coming. Raymond says Stallman briefly
considered adopting the term, only to discard it. "I
know because I had direct personal conversations about
it," Raymond says.

By the end of 1998, Stallman had formulated a position:
open source, while helpful in communicating the
technical advantages of free software, also encouraged
speakers to soft-pedal the issue of software freedom.
Given this drawback, Stallman would stick with the term
free software.

Summing up his position at the 1999 LinuxWorld
Convention and Expo, an event billed by Torvalds
himself as a "coming out party" for the Linux
community, Stallman implored his fellow hackers to
resist the lure of easy compromise.

"Because we've shown how much we can do, we don't have
to be desperate to work with companies or compromise
our goals," Stallman said during a panel discussion.
"Let them offer and we'll accept. We don't have to
change what we're doing to get them to help us. You can
take a single step towards a goal, then another and
then more and more and you'll actually reach your goal.
Or, you can take a half measure that means you don't
ever take another step and you'll never get there."

Even before the LinuxWorld show, however, Stallman was
showing an increased willingness to alienate his more
conciliatory peers. A few months after the Freeware
Summit, O'Reilly hosted its second annual Perl
Conference. This time around, Stallman was in
attendance. During a panel discussion lauding IBM's
decision to employ the free software Apache web server
in its commercial offerings, Stallman, taking advantage
of an audience microphone, disrupted the proceedings
with a tirade against panelist John Ousterhout, creator
of the Tcl scripting language. Stallman branded
Ousterhout a "parasite" on the free software community
for marketing a proprietary version of Tcl via
Ousterhout's startup company, Scriptics. "I don't think
Scriptics is necessary for the continued existence of
Tcl," Stallman said to hisses from the fellow audience members.See Malcolm
Maclachlan, "Profit Motive Splits Open
Source Movement," TechWeb News (August 26, 1998).
http://content.techweb.com/wire/story/TWB19980824S0012

"It was a pretty ugly scene," recalls Prime Time
Freeware's Rich Morin. "John's done some pretty
respectable things: Tcl, Tk, Sprite. He's a real contributor."

Despite his sympathies for Stallman and Stallman's
position, Morin felt empathy for those troubled by
Stallman's discordant behavior.

Stallman's Perl Conference outburst would momentarily
chase off another potential sympathizer, Bruce Perens.
In 1998, Eric Raymond proposed launching the Open
Source Initiative, or OSI, an organization that would
police the use of the term "open source" and provide a
definition for companies interested in making their own
programs. Raymond recruited Perens to draft the definition.See Bruce Perens et
al., "The Open Source Definition,"
The Open Source Initiative (1998).
http://www.opensource.org/docs/definition.html

Perens would later resign from the OSI, expressing
regret that the organization had set itself up in
opposition to Stallman and the FSF. Still, looking back
on the need for a free software definition outside the
Free Software Foundation's auspices, Perens understands
why other hackers might still feel the need for
distance. "I really like and admire Richard," says
Perens. "I do think Richard would do his job better if
Richard had more balance. That includes going away from
free software for a couple of months."

Stallman's monomaniacal energies would do little to
counteract the public-relations momentum of open source
proponents. In August of 1998, when chip-maker Intel
purchased a stake in GNU/Linux vendor Red Hat, an
accompanying New York Times article described the
company as the product of a movement "known
alternatively as free software and open source."See Amy Harmon, "For Sale: Free
Operating System," New
York Times (September 28, 1998).

 

 

 

Link
 Six months later, a John Markoff article on Apple
Computer was proclaiming the company's adoption of the
"open source" Apache server in the article headline.See John Markoff, "Apple
Adopts `Open Source' for its
Server Computers," New York Times (March 17, 1999).

 

 

 

Link

Such momentum would coincide with the growing momentum
of companies that actively embraced the "open source"
term. By August of 1999, Red Hat, a company that now
eagerly billed itself as "open source," was selling
shares on Nasdaq. In December, VA Linux-formerly VA
Research-was floating its own IPO to historical effect.
Opening at $30 per share, the company's stock price
exploded past the $300 mark in initial trading only to
settle back down to the $239 level. Shareholders lucky
enough to get in at the bottom and stay until the end
experienced a 698% increase in paper wealth, a Nasdaq record.

Among those lucky shareholders was Eric Raymond, who,
as a company board member since the Mozilla launch, had
received 150,000 shares of VA Linux stock. Stunned by
the realization that his essay contrasting the
Stallman-Torvalds managerial styles had netted him $36
million in potential wealth, Raymond penned a follow-up
essay. In it, Raymond mused on the relationship between
the hacker ethic and monetary wealth: Reporters often
ask me these days if I think the open-source community
will be corrupted by the influx of big money. I tell
them what I believe, which is this: commercial demand
for programmers has been so intense for so long that
anyone who can be seriously distracted by money is
already gone. Our community has been self-selected for
caring about other things-accomplishment, pride,
artistic passion, and each other.See Eric Raymond, "Surprised by Wealth," Linux
Today
(December 10, 1999).

Link
 Whether or not such comments allayed suspicions that
Raymond and other open source proponents had simply
been in it for the money, they drove home the open
source community's ultimate message: all you needed to
sell the free software concept is a friendly face and a
sensible message. Instead of fighting the marketplace
head-on as Stallman had done, Raymond, Torvalds, and
other new leaders of the hacker community had adopted a
more relaxed approach-ignoring the marketplace in some
areas, leveraging it in others. Instead of playing the
role of high-school outcasts, they had played the game
of celebrity, magnifying their power in the process.

"On his worst days Richard believes that Linus Torvalds
and I conspired to hijack his revolution," Raymond
says. "Richard's rejection of the term open source and
his deliberate creation of an ideological fissure in my
view comes from an odd mix of idealism and
territoriality. There are people out there who think
it's all Richard's personal ego. I don't believe that.
It's more that he so personally associates himself with
the free software idea that he sees any threat to that
as a threat to himself."

Ironically, the success of open source and open source
advocates such as Raymond would not diminish Stallman's
role as a leader. If anything, it gave Stallman new
followers to convert. Still, the Raymond territoriality
charge is a damning one. There are numerous instances
of Stallman sticking to his guns more out of habit than
out of principle: his initial dismissal of the Linux
kernel, for example, and his current unwillingness as a
political figure to venture outside the realm of
software issues.

Then again, as the recent debate over open source also
shows, in instances when Stallman has stuck to his
guns, 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."