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Salon.com: Code Free or Die

Apr 04, 2002, 00:30 (16 Talkback[s])

[ Thanks to certron for this link. ]

"In the fall of 2000, Sam Williams, author of "Free as in Freedom," sent me an e-mail asking me if he could discuss an ethical question about Richard Stallman. I had to smile. I didn't know Williams personally, other than as a journalistic colleague who covered the free-software/open-source software beat, but I could easily imagine what the trouble was. Stallman was being prickly, and a prickly Stallman is no fun.

"Williams was in a jam. He had completed some preliminary work on a book about Stallman, including two lengthy in-person interviews. But the publisher of the book was balking at some of Stallman's requirements. Stallman wanted the book to be freely reproducible, just like the software that Stallman fights for with every breath. Stallman was threatening to withdraw his cooperation, and Williams was unsure whether he could morally use the material he had already gathered.

"I couldn't give Williams any useful advice, other than to confirm what he already knew, which is that in the world of top-notch computer programmers, where stubborness is almost an entrance requirement, Stallman reigns supreme. He will not bend and he will not break, and if you want to dash your head against his rock, you must be willing to accept the brain damage that will undoubtedly result..."

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