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Byte.com: Free Is Free Isn't Free - Talking With Richard Stallman

Mar 20, 2001, 08:13 (28 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Tom Henderson)

"Historically, Stallman gained fame as a coder and re-wrote loads of code, turning vacuously licensed Unix components into freeware. The idea was free Unix, the result was free <your favorite 'free OS' here>. Stallman would prefer that you place the letters GNU/ before the name of the free OS. This is well known."

"Metaphorically, Stallman then dug a shaft 400 miles deep into the earth, filled it with concrete, and stepped merrily into the middle of it. To say Stallman isn't staunch in his defense of the GNU Public License (GPL) and free-as-a-concept is to not understand the word. Were he a politician, and it's doubtful that he could ever be one, there'd be mayhem. The reason mayhem would ensue is that the world is stuck to the concept of not-free. It decries accessibility to source code, even stretching the definition of what is source code, as opposed to decryption and reverse engineering. In a strange way, closed source code, and code that's not free when coupled to Stallman (and a myriad of other GPL coders work) is theft. Can you steal what is free? Is this also an Abbie Hoffman moment?"

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