Free Software

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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Free Software

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A program is free software if you, as its user, have the four following essential freedoms:

0. run the program as you wish
1. right to study and change the program (this implies access to its source code)
2. right to redistribute the original program
3. right to redistribute your modified version of the program

Back in 1997 or 1998, Richard Stallman gave a talk in Sophia Antipolis which I went to attend. Stallman is a free software activist and programmer (he created gcc and emacs among other programs) who founded the GNU Project and the Free Software Foundation.

At the time, I didn't know what Stallman looked like physically, so it was quite a fun surprise when a man with long hair and a big beard popped up on the stage unannonced and started to play the flute ...

Stallman then delivered a speech on what free software is and why one should use and contribute to free sofware. The first half of the speech was delivered in French (which Stallman had a good command of) and then he switched to English. The speech had quite an impact on my (then) young mind. Below I include a(nother similar) speech from Stallman on free software.

Free software is about freedom, not price. It is about ethics and thus it is a social movement.


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