[Book] Free as in Freedom

Finally i was able to read something extra  apart from the UPSC exam materials.The new experience is that of reading it on my phone(using aldriko app for android) – slowly moving forward page by page.This book is an Open Book so you can read it or download it online. The link for online reading is here.(or just click the picture below)

It was different reading a biography after so long time. The fact that it was based on some computer tech, helped in connecting to the story of Richard Stallman – the free software crusader.He is the person who launched the GNU projected and initiated the free software movement. If you are also a fan of open source & free software be thankful to the efforts of Stallman. ( To know about Stallman & his contribution click here or just wiki it).

The story starts with how a problem for printer sharing in the AI lab led to hacking of the device code. This led to the idea of constantly improving the code while sharing it with everyone else in the lab.That’s where it all started – the protest against copyright issues, confronting commercial industry practices, composing manifesto for the fee software movement.The book tracks the development of the ideology of open source & how the idealistic nature of Stallman went along with it with contributions from other programmers & hackers.Generally there is rarely anything one can take away from a biography as the time in which all that happened is already a passe, with certain exceptions like Gandhiji’s biography.That is the reason i am wary of reading biographies and also the retrospective & regressive flaw which seeps in when imagining & learning from the life stories.However, for this book i noted some excerpts :

  • If anything deserves a reward, it is social contribution.
  • Creativity can be a social contribution but only in so fa as society is free to use the result.
  • If programmers deserve to be rewarded for creating innovative programs, by the same token they deserve to be punished if they restrict the use of these programs.
  • The GNU manifesto –link.(GNU is not Linux).
  • What kind of rules make possible a good society that is good for the people who are in it?
  • Software patents reflect the awkward nature of applying laws & concepts written for physical world to the friction-less universe of information technology.
  • The whole idea of having the freedom to go in  and to fix something and modify it,really makes a difference.It makes one think happily that after you’ve lived a few years that what you’ve done is worthwhile. Because otherwise it just gets taken away and thrown out or abandoned or at the very least, you no longer have any relation to it.Its like losing a bit of your life.

Finally a thank you note to Sam Williams for bringing about this book & supporting Stallman’s ideology.Also to Aldriko app guys using which i came to know about this book & made it possible to read it even in a busy schedule.

As Stallman would say: Happy Hacking


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