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Richard Stallman

   Richard Stallman
   Richard Stallman (born March 16, 1953), often abbreviated "rms", is an
   American software freedom activist, hacker, and software developer. In
   September 1983, he launched the GNU Project to create a free Unix-like
   operating system, and has been the project's lead architect and
   organiser. With the launch of the GNU Project, he started the free
   software movement and, in October 1985, set up the Free Software

   Stallman pioneered the concept of copyleft and is the main author of
   several copyleft licenses including the GNU General Public License, the
   most widely used free software license. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman
   has spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as
   campaigning against both software patents and what he sees as excessive
   extension of copyright laws. Stallman has also developed a number of
   pieces of widely used software, including the original Emacs, the GNU
   Compiler Collection, and the GNU Debugger. He co-founded the League for
   Programming Freedom in 1989.

   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.

   During this time, Stallman was also a volunteer laboratory assistant in
   the Biology Department at Rockefeller University. Although he was
   already moving toward a career in mathematics or physics, his teaching
   professor at Rockefeller thought he would have a future as a biologist.

   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 international folk dancing, and with it the
   opportunity it provided for socialising with the opposite sex.
   Stallman's ensuing despair culminated in social withdrawal; but he
   found solace in a heightened focus on the area in which his
   achievements made him most proud - programming. His doctoral pursuits
   in physics became a casualty of this calling; however, Stallman has
   since been awarded six honorary doctorates and two honorary
   professorships.(see list below)

   In 1980, Stallman and some other hackers at the AI Lab were refused the
   software's source code for the Xerox 9700 laser printer (code-named
   "Dover"), the industry's first. Stallman had modified the software on
   an older printer (the XGP, Xerographic Printer), so it electronically
   messaged a user when the person's job was printed, and would message
   all logged-in users when a printer was jammed. Not being able to add
   this feature to the Dover printer was a major inconvenience, as the
   printer was on a different floor from most of the users. This one
   experience convinced Stallman of people's need to be free to modify the
   software they use.

   Stallman argues that software users should have the freedom to "share
   with their neighbor" and to be able to study and make changes to the
   software that they use. He has repeatedly said that attempts by
   proprietary software vendors to prohibit these acts are "antisocial"
   and "unethical". The phrase "software wants to be free" is often
   incorrectly attributed to him, and Stallman argues that this is a
   misstatement of his philosophy. He argues that freedom is vital for the
   sake of users and society as a moral value, and not merely for
   pragmatic reasons such as possibly developing technically superior

   In January 1984, Stallman quit his job at MIT to work full-time on the
   GNU project, which he had announced in September 1983.

   Stallman announced the plan for the GNU operating system in September
   1983 on several ARPAnet mailing lists and USENET.
   In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto, which outlined his
   motivation for creating a free operating system called GNU, which would
   be compatible with Unix. The name GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU's
   Not Unix. Soon after, he started a non-profit corporation called the
   Free Software Foundation to employ free software programmers and
   provide a legal infrastructure for the free software movement. Stallman
   is the nonsalaried president of the FSF, which is a 501(c)(3)
   non-profit organization founded in Massachusetts.

   In 1985, Stallman invented and popularized the concept of copyleft, a
   legal mechanism to protect the modification and redistribution rights
   for free software. It was first implemented in the GNU Emacs General
   Public License, and in 1989 the first program-independent GNU General
   Public License (GPL) was released. By then, much of the GNU system had
   been completed. Stallman was responsible for contributing many
   necessary tools, including a text editor, compiler, debugger, and a
   build automator. The notable exception was a kernel. In 1990, members
   of the GNU project began a kernel called GNU Hurd, which has yet to
   achieve the maturity level required for widespread usage.

   In 1991, Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student, used the GNU development
   tools to produce the Linux kernel. The existing programs from the GNU
   project were readily ported to run on the resultant platform; most
   sources use the name "Linux" to refer to the general-purpose operating
   system thus formed. This has been a longstanding naming controversy in
   the free software community. Stallman argues that not using "GNU" in
   the name of the operating system unfairly disparages the value of the
   GNU project and harms the sustainability of the free software movement
   by breaking the link between the software and the free software
   philosophy of the GNU project.

   A number of developers view Stallman as being difficult to work with
   from a political, interpersonal, or technical standpoint. Around 1992,
   developers at Lucid Inc. doing their own work on Emacs clashed with
   Stallman and ultimately forked the software. Their fork later became
   XEmacs. An email archive published by Jamie Zawinski documents their
   criticisms and Stallman's responses. Ulrich Drepper, whom Stallman had
   appointed to work on GNU libc for the GNU Project, published complaints
   against Stallman in the release notes for glibc 2.2.4. Drepper accuses
   Stallman of attempting a "hostile takeover" of the project, referring
   to him as a "control freak and raging maniac." Eric S. Raymond, who
   sometimes claims to speak for parts of the open source movement, has
   written many pieces laying out that movement's disagreement with
   Stallman and the free software movement, often in terms sharply
   critical of Stallman.

   With thanks to Wikipedia

   Photograph of Richard Stallman Click for a larger version

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