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Salon: The Free Software Project - Chapter 1 Part2: Starting points

Mar 07, 2000, 04:07 (0 Talkback[s])


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"Free software is free speech. Bill Joy, a programmer* extraordinaire who co-founded the computer workstation manufacturer Sun Microsystems, suggests that that belief is an outgrowth of the academic tradition of sharing research results with others. And that tradition, he observes, is at least 1,000 years old, going back to the founding of what is generally considered to be the first modern European university -- Irnerius's University of Bologna."

"University researchers, from computing's earliest days, have long spearheaded research and development in both computer hardware and software, so it should come as little surprise that academic customs influence how some of them view their work. But did free software really begin at Bologna, nearly a millenium before the invention of the computer?"

"Not, certainly, in any literal sense. And yet it is still worthwhile to think about free software in the context of nearly 1,000 years of intellectual curiosity and academic freedom. To many programmers, code is a means of expression; a form of speech; a way of seeing, understanding and interacting with the world. To put into place proprietary restraints restricting that speech is a repugnant act of censorship. Sharing source code is not just a way of creating software -- it is a way of life, a passion and a faith."

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