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

“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

“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

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