Sunday, July 13, 2008

Origins of Open Source

In an earlier post, I recommended that everyone who uses computers should read Linus Torvald and David Diamond's book Just For Fun: The Story of an Accidental Revolutionary. I also think that folks should read something about Richard Stallman, the father of GNU (GNU's Not Unix) Operating System. Technically, it was Richard Stallman's work and Linus Torvald's work that when combined created what is popularly known as Linux.

John Sedgwick recently interviewed Richard Stallman for the May 2008 issue of Boston Magazine. The result was The Shaggy God. The article is easy to read and provides a few references to the history of Free and Open Source Software. It also gives a glimpse into the life and inklings of the thinking of an extremely bright revolutionary visionary. The little I've read of Richard Stallman causes me to anticipate that he is passionate, intense, and highly technical and exacting in both his personal and professional conversations. I think it would be an interesting experience to hear him speak and/or present.

I'm not sure that people like Stallman and Torvalds understand and appreciate people who are merely end-users of their systems. However, end-users are the ones who can make a difference in the world. Stallman and Torvalds are loners. Most end-users are not loners. They use technology as a social network. The philosophy that Stallman and Torvalds espouse is one that end-users can begin to understand and embrace and share as they use Open Source software.

1 comment:

Scott Rippon said...

I was really grateful to be able to see Richard Stallman present in Australia several years ago. He gave a very passionate and powerful presentation introducing free software and described the morality behind the movement.

For anyone who'd like to see/hear Richard present the GNU Project site has a number of audio/video presentations available online.

Also if anyone would like to read more about Stallman and the history of free software I'd strongly recommend checking out the following book, which is also freely available online:

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