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

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Table of Contents



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

The work of Richard M. Stallman literally speaks for
itself. From the documented source code to the
published papers to the recorded speeches, few people
have expressed as much willingness to lay their
thoughts and their work on the line.

Such openness-if one can pardon a momentary un-Stallman
adjective-is refreshing. After all, we live in a
society that treats information, especially personal
information, as a valuable commodity. The question
quickly arises. Why would anybody want to part with so
much information and yet appear to demand nothing in return?

As we shall see in later chapters, Stallman does not
part with his words or his work altruistically. Every
program, speech, and on-the-record bon mot comes with a
price, albeit not the kind of price most people are
used to paying.

I bring this up not as a warning, but as an admission.
As a person who has spent the last year digging up
facts on Stallman's personal history, it's more than a
little intimidating going up against the Stallman
oeuvre. "Never pick a fight with a man who buys his ink
by the barrel," goes the old Mark Twain adage. In the
case of Stallman, never attempt the definitive
biography of a man who trusts his every thought to the
public record.

For the readers who have decided to trust a few hours
of their time to exploring this book, I can confidently
state that there are facts and quotes in here that one
won't find in any Slashdot story or Google search.
Gaining access to these facts involves paying a price,
however. In the case of the book version, you can pay
for these facts the traditional manner, i.e., by
purchasing the book. In the case of the electronic
versions, you can pay for these facts in the free
software manner. Thanks to the folks at O'Reilly &
Associates, this book is being distributed under the
GNU Free Documentation License, meaning you can help to
improve the work or create a personalized version and
release that version under the same license.

If you are reading an electronic version and prefer to
accept the latter payment option, that is, if you want
to improve or expand this book for future readers, I
welcome your input. Starting in June, 2002, I will be
publishing a bare bones HTML version of the book on the
web site, My aim is to update
it regularly and expand the Free as in Freedom story as
events warrant. If you choose to take the latter
course, please review Appendix C of this book. It
provides a copy of your rights under the GNU Free
Documentation License.

For those who just plan to sit back and read, online or
elsewhere, I consider your attention an equally
valuable form of payment. Don't be surprised, though,
if you, too, find yourself looking for other ways to
reward the good will that made this work possible.

One final note: this is a work of journalism, but it is
also a work of technical documentation. In the process
of writing and editing this book, the editors and I
have weighed the comments and factual input of various
participants in the story, including Richard Stallman
himself. We realize there are many technical details in
this story that may benefit from additional or refined
information. As this book is released under the GFDL,
we are accepting patches just like we would with any
free software program. Accepted changes will be posted
electronically and will eventually be incorporated into
future printed versions of this work. If you would like
to contribute to the further improvement of this book,
you can reach me at Comments and
Questions Please address comments and questions
concerning this book to the publisher: O'Reilly &
Associates, Inc. 1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472 (800) 998-9938 (in the United
States or Canada) (707) 829-0515 (international/local)
(707) 829-0104 (fax) There is a web page for this book,
which lists errata, examples, or any additional
information. The site also includes a link to a forum
where you can discuss the book with the author and
other readers. You can access this site at: To comment or
ask technical questions about this book, send email to: For more information about
books, conferences, Resource Centers, and the O'Reilly
Network, see the O'Reilly web site at: Acknowledgments Special thanks
to Henning Gutmann for sticking by this book. Special
thanks to Aaron Oas for suggesting the idea to Tracy in
the first place. Thanks to Laurie Petrycki, Jeffrey
Holcomb, and all the others at O'Reilly & Associates.
Thanks to Tim O'Reilly for backing this book. Thanks to
all the first-draft reviewers: Bruce Perens, Eric
Raymond, Eric Allman, Jon Orwant, Julie and Gerald Jay
Sussman, Hal Abelson, and Guy Steele. I hope you enjoy
this typo-free version. Thanks to Alice Lippman for the
interviews, cookies, and photographs. Thanks to my
family, Steve, Jane, Tish, and Dave. And finally, last
but not least: thanks to Richard Stallman for having
the guts and endurance to "show us the code."

Sam Williams