Free Software, Free Society: Book Review

It has been a while since my last post. All the while I had been engaged in reading. stallmanPrecisely, I was reading the Selected Essays of Richard M. Stallman titled: Free Software, Free Society. I encourage everyone who is interested in free and open source software to have a look.

Among other things, it explains the difference between free software and open source software including how open source originated from free software. All through the essays, the principle that underlies the free software movement was reiterated which is free as in freedom and not free as in price.

Apart from the fact that it set me thinking, it triggered me to act on what I was reading hence before I had completed the book (essays as some may call it), I had switched from running Windows to running GNU/Linux operating system (OS). Take note of the GNU before Linux. GNU is a recursive acronym for GNU’s not Unix. According to the dictionary GNU is a large antelope native to Africa and having curved horns (this informs the GNU project mascot). GNU as it were is an effort started by Richard Stallman to write a free operating system (free as in freedom) in 1983. By 1990, the parts of the operating system were done save for the kernel. Fortunately, Linus Torvalds had just completed a kernel at the time which he called Linux. GNU project integrated his kernel into their nearly completed OS and the GNU/Linux OS emerged. Although it is erroneously referred to today as Linux operating system. In another post, I will talk about how I chose a suitable GNU/Linux operating system.

In summary, this book will either make you join the free software movement or the open source movement. I made my choice while reading the book. If you care to know, I chose the free software movement and now I am moving on to practical things (i.e. contributing to free software). I guess my first stop will be WordPress…


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