March 17, 2008 – 11:42 pm
Tags: agile software development, coffee, craig angell, free software, linux terminal server project, open circuit, open source, saviz artang, sundays energy
I helped organize a fun event for yesterday. You can get more specific information about it here (when we finish editing the wiki about the event…)
Or you can just enjoy my recap of the event below:
who is richard stallman?
Stallman was born to Daniel Stallman and Alice Lippman in 1953 in New York City, New York. Hired by the IBM New York Scientific Center, Stallman spent the summer after his high-school graduation writing his first program, a preprocessor for the PL/I programming language on the IBM 360.
In June 1971, as a first year student at Harvard University, Stallman became a programmer at the AI Laboratory of MIT. There he became a regular in the hacker community, where he was usually known by his initials, “RMS” (which was the name of his computer accounts). In the first edition of the Hacker’s Dictionary, he wrote, “‘Richard Stallman’ is just my mundane name; you can call me ‘rms’.” Stallman graduated from Harvard magna cum laude earning a BA in Physics in 1974.
Stallman then enrolled as a graduate student in physics at MIT, but abandoned his graduate studies while remaining a programmer at the MIT AI Laboratory. At the end of his first year in the graduate program, Stallman suffered a knee injury that ended the main joy in his life - his participation in the folk dance troupe, and with it the opportunity it provided for socializing with the opposite sex. Stallman’s ensuing despair culminated in social withdrawal from which he found solace in a heightened focus on the area in which his achievements made him most proud - programming. While his doctoral pursuits in physics became a casualty of this calling, however, Stallman has been awarded six honorary doctorates and two honorary professorships.
As a hacker in MIT’s AI laboratory, Stallman worked on software projects like TECO, Emacs, and the Lisp Machine Operating System. He would become an ardent critic of restricted computer access in the lab. When MIT’s Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) installed a password control system in 1977, Stallman found a way to decrypt the passwords and sent users messages containing their decoded password (to demonstrate that they were not increasing security, but only hindering free access to each other’s software and discouraging sharing it), with a suggestion to change it to the empty string (that is, no password) instead, to restore this free access. Around 20% of the users followed his advice. Although Stallman boasted of the success of his campaign for many years afterward, passwords ultimately prevailed.
-up until the beginning of the 1980’s, programming and computer culture was, by default, very free and sharing. people at academic and governmental institutions readily shared problems and solutions in a way very similar to how the open source community operates today.
-sometime around then, things changed as computer science became more corporatized. suddenly, with software liscening, programmers were no longer able to share what they were working on with their friends and colleagues as they had been used to doing.
-However, he was the last of his generation of hackers at the lab. He rejected a future where he would have to sign non-disclosure agreements not to share source code or technical information with other software developers and perform other actions he considered betrayals of his principles. He chose instead to share his work with others in what he regarded as a classical spirit of collaboration. While Stallman did not participate in the 1960s era counterculture, he was inspired by its rejection of the pursuit of wealth as the primary goal of living.
-because of this, he started the gnu liscence and the free software foundation.
Nobody should be restricted by the software they use. There are four freedoms that every user should have:
* the freedom to use the software for any purpose,
* the freedom to share the software with your friends and neighbors,
* the freedom to change the software to suit your needs, and
* the freedom to share the changes you make.
When a program offers users all of these freedoms, we call it free software.
Developers who write software can release it under the terms of the GNU GPL. When they do, it will be free software and stay free software, no matter who changes or distributes the program. We call this copyleft: the software is copyrighted, but instead of using those rights to restrict users like proprietary software does, we use them to ensure that every user has freedom.
- this is a really nifty trick. if you use any software licensed as GNU, you are inherently agreeing not to make it private. in a sense, it guarantees that software made to be free remains free no matter who uses it
-/free software foundation
Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Richard Stallman on 4 October 1985 to support the free software movement, a copyleft-based movement which aims to promote the universal freedom to distribute and modify computer software without restriction . The FSF is incorporated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United States of America.
From its founding until the mid-1990s, FSF’s funds were mostly used to employ software developers to write free software for the GNU Project. Since the mid-1990s, the FSF’s employees and volunteers have mostly worked on legal and structural issues for the free software movement and the free software community.
Being consistent with its goals, only free software is used on all of the FSF’s computers.
today is Richard Stallman’s birthday. He is 54 years old. We’ve got cake AND cupcakes! Please enjoy them throughout the day.
I have written Mr. Stallman to inform him of this birthday party for him. He agreed to attend in-absentia, and will be sitting in this chair throughout the day.
He expressed his desire to me that copies of the philosophy of his organization be distributed at this event.
Thanks to Brian (chair of the freegeek) for making copies. Please check them out and read them. The ideas expressed in his writing are very compelling.
I have been personally influenced by the attitude he has taken towards software development, and I make it an effort to make my work available for sharing, use, and extension.
Most of the time, my work is crap, but in the few cases I have written something useful, it is very fun to receive emails of appreciation from those who have used or extended what I have made.
Sharing perpetuates sharing, and we all benefit from that. If I were to sum up today’s agenda into one thing, it would be simply: sharing of knowledge.
We owe much thanks to RMS for his ideas and effort over the last 30 years. Software is powerful, software changes society and lives.
His efforts to make sure that the benefits we experience from software are shared have led to the wonderful phenomenon we know as open source or free software, and this day is, in part, an appreciation of his efforts and a celebration of that ideal.
Thanks to everyone who showed up at the event, it was awesome. I look forward to the next one.
Also, craig’s poster for the event was awesome. thanks very much to him for his work on it.