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Linux Journal: A Matter of Principle: RMS at Linux Expo in Amsterdam

Jan 30, 2001, 18:39 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brenno J.S.A.A.F. De Winter)

"On January 23rd and 24th, the European version of Linux Expo hit the RAI building in Amsterdam. The RAI is to Amsterdam what the Moscone Center is to San Francisco. With an entrance fee of about US $125.00, the admission was too expensive for some famous Dutch Linux hackers. However, some prominent people did show up, including Mr. GNU himself, Richard Stallman. That by itself was reason enough to check out the conference."

"The last keynote speaker was Richard Stallman. When he got on stage he struck me as unconventional and charismatic. As I was taking a picture, he stepped forward and waved to the camera, getting a laugh out of everybody. Then, Richard began talking; no fancy slides, just Richard. It's been 17 years since the Free Software movement started. The goal is to make Free Software--Free as in Freedom. This is not a story about software but about Freedom and a helpful community. He then referred to the last part of the project, the kernel as written by Linus Torvalds in 1991. "This project is actually what some people ended up calling Linux." He then discussed the success of GNU/Linux--the GNU OS, including gcc, glibc, and the rest of the key parts of the operating system running on top of the Linux kernel."

"What do "Freedom" and "Free" have to do with our lives? He distinguishes two goals one can have with the success of Linux: "world domination" or "world liberation". "World domination", as Linus Torvalds famously put it, is the popularization of Linux. But this vision resembles the proprietary world where the number of users represents a certain monetary value. "World liberation" is freedom to use the software you want to use. In this philosophy, it's not the number of users that matters, but the number of people whose lives are touched by the freedom that comes with free software. The possible monetary value of the product is not relevant but the moral value is. What do you deliver to mankind?"

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