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Free as in Freedom

by JSchmitz (Canon)
on Oct 28, 2002 at 00:12 UTC ( #208416=bookreview: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

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Item Description: Free as in Freedom Richard Stallman's Crusade For Free Software

Review Synopsis: Good Read

Whether a fan of RMS or not this book is a great story of a guy with a vision who sitcks to his guns no matter what. Filled with great stories about the early days of GNU/Linux and the GPL and all the Stallman quirkiness you would expect. My favorite chapter describes a livid Stallman at the MIT AI labs after hearing Symbolics stopped sending over their code.
Stallman at this time was working on Lisp machines. He was so mad that he holed himself in his offices at MIT and single handedly rewrote from scratch every single feature that Symbolics came out with so that Lisp users would have access to all the same features. This was single handedly matching the output of a whole staff of programmers what writer Bill Levy calls a "master hack" and
Stallman himself the "John Henry of computer code". There is also lots of interesting introspectives from luminaries of the hacking scene. The tension between Torvalds and Stallman. I also really got a kick out of Gates's "open letter to hobbyists" which tried to negate the idea of communal program development.
I learned a lot from this book such as I did not know that it took GNU so long to get a working kernel. There is also lots of information in this book about the early days of EMACS and GCC - both Stallman creations. The book is not long clocking in at only 208 pages with a copy of the GPL on the last few pages.

Comment on Free as in Freedom
Re: Free as in Freedom
by Molt (Chaplain) on Oct 28, 2002 at 13:58 UTC

    It is worth noting that when Stallman agreed to co-operate on this book he did so with the requirement that the book itself was under the GPL, so O'Reilly have put the entire book online as part of their OpenBook initiative.

    Personally I read the online one, then ended up buying the paper copy since I did enjoy it.

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