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Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software Paperback – 30 Dec 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 266 pages
  • Publisher: Createspace (30 Dec. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1441437886
  • ISBN-13: 978-1441437884
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 606,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"....A worthwhile read for its chronicle of an important part of the free software movement as well as into Stallman as a person...." -- Jende Huang, Washington Computer User, Jun 2002

"....it's a good summary of one of the software world's most eminent men. ..." -- Dave Symonds, Computer Science Undergraduate Society, May 2002

A good and important work. I recommend it. -- Joe Barr, Linux World, August 26, 2002

A mesmerizing biography of one of the most influential people in computer science. -- Ben Rothke, Unixreview.com, March 2002

A nuanced, detailed picture of Stallman that includes much that will be new even to close followers of the free-software movement. -- Andrew Leonard, Salon.com, April 2, 2002

His philosophy and work has surely secured him a legacy as a man who has altered the way we look at software. -- Jende Huang, Washington Computer USer, Jun 2002

If you are interested in the open source movement, likely you'll want to read this book. It's interesting, challenging, and easy to follow. -- George Woolley, Oakland Perl Mongers, Feb 2003

The biogrpahy is a must read if you are to understand hte origin of Linux and free Software. -- linux.org

The book is a great read for geeks, enlightening us on our heritage. -- Penguinista.org

This is a book that moves with economy through the life of the world's most famous hacker. -- Marc Rotenberg, EPIC, April 2002

About the Author

Sam Williams is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn, New York, and the author of O'Reilly's Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software. He has covered high-tech culture, specifically software development culture, for a number of Web sites. From 1998-2001, he wrote "Open Season," a weekly column on the open source software community for Upside Today. He also has conducted interviews for the Web site BeOpen.com. His first book, ARGUING A.I.: The Battle for Twenty-First Century Science, was published by Random House in January 2002. Free as in Freedom is his second book.

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Format: Hardcover
Free as in Freedom is a generally sympathetic but far from hagiographic biography of Richard Stallman, inspiration of the free software movement. While much of the material in it will be familiar to anyone actively involved with free software, there are, as Williams claims, "facts and quotes in here that one won't find in any Slashdot story or Google search". It is also an entertaining and accessible study, which I finished within a day of my review copy arriving.
Williams begins with the famous jamming printer and Stallman's encounter with a non-disclosure agreement that prevented him writing reporting software for it. He then jumps forwards to a speech given by Stallman in 2001, responding to attacks by Microsoft on the GNU GPL. Having used these episodes to introduce Stallman and explain the basic idea of free software, the rest of the work continues in a similar vein, mixing historical chapters with ones describing Williams' own meetings with Stallman.
Chapter three describes Stallman's childhood as a prodigy; chapter four his experiences at Harvard and MIT; chapter six the MIT AI Lab and the Emacs "commune"; chapter seven the death of the MIT hacker community and the first announcement of the GNU Project; chapter nine the GNU GPL; chapter ten the appearance of Linux and debates over GNU/Linux; and chapter eleven the coining of the term "open source" and the arguments over that. These contain quotes by everyone from Stallman's mother to the leading lights of free software, as well as plenty by Stallman himself. The narrative never strays too far from its subject, but becomes inextricably interwoven with the broader history and politics of free software and sometimes digresses to cover key figures and events with which Stallman wasn't directly involved.
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Format: Hardcover
Its a very imformative, easy to read, and often amusing look at the life of this clever and driven hacker who's work has led to the increasing acceptance and quality of free software today. Many may not agree with all his ideas, but few doubt his genius. Recommended for both those with a good understanding of free software, and those with little prior knowledge. Great stuff!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I basically bought this book looking for information about where Linux came from, what I recieved was an education about what free open standard software development is all about and why its so important to one man. I got a good understanding about why Richard Stallman is such a driven man. The book hardly mentions Linux but concentrates primarily on what drives Stallman to keep going, and live the software developers equivalent of a rock star's life. Constantly travelling, preaching to small audiences of converts, never having time to think about lifes other problems, never time to settle. It also seems to paint a picture of a man, who although so closely tied into technology, doesn't seem to want to rely on it, to get his message through to his audience, often travelling thousands of miles just to talk to 200 people in a school gym. You also get a sense of the shear size of the struggle he his facing in his efforts, trying to make people aware that there are alternatives, its not Stallmans mission to detail them, but to make sure you know they are there. Whenever I now see Stallman's name mentioned in media articles, I now feel I have a better idea about why his will and passion sometimes blind him to peoples feelings. If you have any interest in the free software movement, positive or negative, you should obtain this book.
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