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Richard Matthew Stallman (; born March 16, 1953), also known by his initials, rms, is an American
free software movement The free software movement is a social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting popu ...
activist and
programmer A computer programmer, sometimes called a software developer, a programmer or more recently a coder (especially in more informal contexts), is a person who creates computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science) ...

programmer
. He campaigns for software to be distributed in a manner such that its users receive the freedoms to use, study, distribute, and modify that software. Software that ensures these freedoms is termed
free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any adapted versions. Free software is a matter of liberty ...
. Stallman launched the
GNU Project The GNU Project () is a free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions and data (computing), data that tell a computer how to work. This i ...
, founded the
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, which promotes the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify compu ...
, developed the
GNU Compiler Collection The GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is an optimizing compiler In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes a ...
and
GNU Emacs GNU Emacs is a free software text editor. It was created by GNU Project founder Richard Stallman. In common with other varieties of Emacs, GNU Emacs is extensible using a Turing complete programming language. GNU Emacs has been called "the most p ...
, and wrote the
GNU General Public License The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that ...
. Stallman launched the GNU Project in September 1983 to write a
Unix-like A Unix-like (sometimes referred to as UN*X or *nix) operating system An operating system (OS) is system software that manages computer hardware, computer software, software resources, and provides common daemon (computing), services for compu ...
computer
operating system An operating system (OS) is system software System software is software designed to provide a platform for other software. Examples of system software include operating systems (OS) like macOS, Linux, Android (operating system), Android and Mi ...

operating system
composed entirely of free software. With this, he also launched the
free software movement The free software movement is a social movement A social movement is a loosely organized effort by a large group of people to achieve a particular goal, typically a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting popu ...
. He has been the GNU project's lead architect and organizer, and developed a number of pieces of widely used GNU software including, among others, the GNU Compiler Collection,
GNU Debugger The GNU Debugger (GDB) is a portable debugger A debugger or debugging tool is a computer program used to test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' kn ...
, and
GNU Emacs GNU Emacs is a free software text editor. It was created by GNU Project founder Richard Stallman. In common with other varieties of Emacs, GNU Emacs is extensible using a Turing complete programming language. GNU Emacs has been called "the most p ...

GNU Emacs
text editor. In October 1985 he founded the Free Software Foundation (FSF). Stallman pioneered the concept of
copyleft Copyleft is the practice of granting the right to freely distribute and modify with the requirement that the same rights be preserved in derivative works created from that property. Copyleft in the form of s can be used to maintain conditions ...

copyleft
, which uses the principles of copyright law to preserve the right to use, modify, and distribute free software. He is the main author of
free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that software. These actions are usually prohibited by copyright Copyright is a type of intellectual prope ...
s which describe those terms, most notably the GNU General Public License (GPL), the most widely used free software license. In 1989, he co-founded the
League for Programming Freedom League for Programming Freedom (LPF) was founded in 1989 by Richard Stallman to unite free software developers as well as developers of proprietary software to fight against software patents and the extension of the scope of copyright. Their logo ...

League for Programming Freedom
. Since the mid-1990s, Stallman has spent most of his time advocating for free software, as well as campaigning against
software patents A software patent is a patent NPOV disputes from March 2021 A patent is a Title (property), title that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention for a limited period of years in exchange fo ...
,
digital rights management Digital rights management (DRM) tools or technological protection measures (TPM) are a set of access control In the fields of physical security and information security, access control (AC) is the selective restriction of access to a place ...
(which he refers to as digital ''restrictions'' management, calling the more common term misleading), and other legal and technical systems which he sees as taking away users' freedoms. This has included software license agreements,
non-disclosure agreement #REDIRECT Non-disclosure agreement#REDIRECT Non-disclosure agreement A non-disclosure agreement (NDA), also known as a confidentiality agreement (CA), confidential disclosure agreement (CDA), proprietary information agreement (PIA) or secrecy agre ...
s, activation keys,
dongles A dongle is a small piece of computer hardware that connects to a Computer port (hardware), port on another device to provide it with additional functionality, or enable a pass-through to such a device that adds functionality. In computing, the te ...
, copy restriction,
proprietary formatA proprietary format is a file format ogg-file: 154 kilobytes. A file format is a standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention o ...
s, and
binary Binary may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Binary number In mathematics and digital electronics, a binary number is a number expressed in the base-2 numeral system or binary numeral system, which uses only two symbols: ty ...

binary
executable In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and ...
s without
source code In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and ...

source code
. In September 2019, Stallman resigned as president of the FSF and left his "visiting scientist" role at
MIT Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private land-grant research university A research university is a university A university ( la, universitas, 'a whole') is an educational institution, institution of higher education, hi ...
after making controversial comments about the
Jeffrey Epstein Jeffrey Edward Epstein ( ; January 20, 1953August 10, 2019) was an American financier An investor is a person that allocates capital with the expectation of a future financial return (profit) or to gain an advantage (interest). Through thi ...

Jeffrey Epstein
sex trafficking scandal. Stallman remained head of the GNU Project, and in 2021 returned to the FSF board of directors.


Early life

Stallman was born March 16, 1953, in
New York City New York, often called New York City to distinguish it from New York State New York is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of ...

New York City
, to a family of
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is ...

Jewish
heritage. He had a troublesome relationship with his parents and did not feel he had a proper home. He was interested in computers at a young age; when Stallman was a pre-teen at a summer camp, he read manuals for the
IBM 7094 The IBM 7090 is a second-generation transistorized upright=1.4, gate A gate or gateway is a point of entry to or from a space enclosed by walls. The word derived from old Norse "gat" meaning road A road is a thoroughfare, route, or way ...
. From 1967 to 1969, Stallman attended a Columbia University Saturday program for high school students. Stallman was also a volunteer laboratory assistant in the
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...

biology
department at
Rockefeller University The Rockefeller University is a private graduate university in New York City. It focuses primarily on the biological and medical sciences and provides doctoral and postdoctoral education. It is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – Hi ...

Rockefeller University
. Although he was interested in mathematics and
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
, his supervising professor at Rockefeller thought he showed promise as a biologist. His first experience with actual computers was at the IBM New York Scientific Center when he was in high school. He was hired for the summer in 1970, following his senior year of high school, to write a numerical analysis program in
Fortran Fortran (; formerly FORTRAN) is a general-purpose, compiled language, compiled imperative programming, imperative programming language that is especially suited to numerical analysis, numeric computation and computational science, scientific com ...

Fortran
. He completed the task after a couple of weeks ("I swore that I would never use FORTRAN again because I despised it as a language compared with other languages") and spent the rest of the summer writing a text editor in APL and a
preprocessor In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of Algori ...

preprocessor
for the
PL/I PL/I (Programming Language One, pronounced and sometimes written PL/1) is a Procedural programming, procedural, imperative programming, imperative computer programming language developed and published by IBM. It is designed for scientific, engi ...
programming language A programming language is a formal language In logic, mathematics, computer science, and linguistics, a formal language consists of string (computer science), words whose symbol (formal), letters are taken from an alphabet (computer science) ...

programming language
on the
IBM System/360 The IBM System/360 (S/360) is a family of mainframe computer A mainframe computer, informally called a mainframe or big iron, is a computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to carry out sequences of arithmetic or ...
.


Harvard University and MIT

As a first-year student at
Harvard University Harvard University is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, after an absence of nearly t ...

Harvard University
in fall 1970, Stallman was known for his strong performance in
Math 55 Math 55 is a two-semester long first-year undergraduate Undergraduate education ieducationconducted after secondary education and prior to postgraduate education. It typically includes all postsecondary programs up to the level of a bachelor's ...
. He was happy: "For the first time in my life, I felt I had found a home at Harvard." In 1971, near the end of his first year at Harvard, he became a programmer at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, and became a regular in the
hacker A hacker is a person skilled in information technology who uses their technical knowledge to achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle, within a computerized system by non-standard means. Though the term ''hacker'' has become associated in popul ...
community, where he was usually known by his initials, ''RMS'', which he used in his computer accounts. Stallman received a bachelor's degree in physics (''
magna cum laude Latin honors are a system of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Ro ...
'') from Harvard in 1974. Stallman considered staying on at Harvard, but instead decided to enroll as a graduate student at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private Private or privates may refer to: Music * "In Private "In Private" was the third single in a row to be a charting success for United Kingdom, British singer Dusty Springfield, aft ...
(MIT). He pursued a doctorate in physics for one year, but left that program to focus on his programming at the MIT AI Laboratory. While working (starting in 1975) as a research assistant at MIT under
Gerry Sussman Gerald Jay Sussman (born February 8, 1947) is the Panasonic Professor of Electrical engineering, Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his Bachelor of Science, S.B. and Doctor of Philosophy, Ph.D. ...
, Stallman published a paper (with Sussman) in 1977 on an AI
truth maintenance system{{more footnotes, date=September 2009 Reason maintenanceDoyle, J., 1983. The ins and outs of reason maintenance, in: Proceedings of the Eighth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence - Volume 1, IJCAI’83. Morgan Kaufmann Publishe ...
, called ''dependency-directed backtracking''. This paper was an early work on the problem of intelligent backtracking in
constraint satisfaction problem Constraint satisfaction problems (CSPs) are mathematical questions defined as a set of objects whose state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department o ...
s. , the technique Stallman and Sussman introduced is still the most general and powerful form of intelligent backtracking. The technique of constraint recording, wherein partial results of a search are recorded for later reuse, was also introduced in this paper. As a hacker in MIT's AI laboratory, Stallman worked on software projects such as TECO and
Emacs Emacs or EMACS (Editor MACroS) is a family of text editor A text editor is a type of computer program that edits plain text. Such programs are sometimes known as "notepad" software, following the naming of Microsoft Notepad. Text editors a ...

Emacs
for the
Incompatible Timesharing System Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS) is a time-sharing In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and ...
(ITS), as well as the
Lisp machine Lisp machines are general-purpose computers designed to efficiently run Lisp Lisp (historically LISP) is a family of programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instr ...

Lisp machine
operating system (the
CONS In computer programming Computer programming is the process of designing and building an executable In computing, executable code, an executable file, or an executable program, sometimes simply referred to as an executable or binary, caus ...
of 1974–1976 and the CADR of 1977–1979—this latter unit was commercialized by
Symbolics Symbolics is a defunct computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations know ...
and
Lisp Machines A Knight machine preserved in the MIT Museum Lisp machines are general-purpose computers designed to efficiently run Lisp A lisp is a speech impairment in which a person misarticulates sibilant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of lingu ...
, Inc. (LMI) starting around 1980). He would become an ardent critic of restricted computer access in the lab, which at that time was funded primarily by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (
DARPA The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is a research and development agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of emerging technologies for use by the military. Originally known as the Ad ...
). When MIT's
Laboratory for Computer Science MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) is a research institute A research institute, research centre, or research center is an establishment founded for doing research. Research institutes may specialize in basic r ...
(LCS) installed a password control system in 1977, Stallman found a way to decrypt the passwords and sent users messages containing their decoded password, with a suggestion to change it to the empty string (that is, no password) instead, to re-enable anonymous access to the systems. Around 20 percent of the users followed his advice at the time, although passwords ultimately prevailed. Stallman boasted of the success of his campaign for many years afterward.


Events leading to GNU

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the
hacker culture The hacker culture is a subculture A subculture is a group of people within a culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowle ...

hacker culture
that Stallman thrived on began to fragment. To prevent software from being used on their competitors' computers, most manufacturers stopped distributing
source code In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and ...

source code
and began using copyright and restrictive software licenses to limit or prohibit copying and redistribution. Such
proprietary software Proprietary software, also known as non-free software or closed-source software, is computer software for which the software's publisher or another person reserves some rights from licenses to use, modify, share modifications, or share the softwa ...
had existed before, and it became apparent that it would become the norm. This shift in the legal characteristics of software was a consequence triggered by the US
Copyright Act of 1976 The Copyright Act of 1976 is a United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. ...
. When Brian Reid in 1979 placed time bombs in the
Scribe A scribe is a person who serves as a professional copyist A copyist is a person who makes copies. The term is sometimes used for artists who make copies of other artists' paintings. However, the modern use of the term is almost entirely con ...
markup language and word processing system to restrict unlicensed access to the software, Stallman proclaimed it "a crime against humanity". During an interview in 2008, he clarified that it is blocking the user's freedom that he believes is a crime, not the issue of charging for software. Stallman's
texinfo Texinfo is a typesetting syntax used for generating documentation in both on-line and printed form (creating filetypes as , , , etc., and its own hypertext format, ) with a single source file. It is implemented by a computer program In imperative ...
is a
GPL The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL or simply GPL) is a series of widely used free software license A free-software license is a notice that grants the recipient of a piece of software extensive rights to modify and redistribute that ...
replacement, loosely based on Scribe; the original version was finished in 1986. In 1980, Stallman and some other hackers at the AI Lab were refused access to the source code for the software of a newly installed
laser printer Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negatively Electric charge, charged cylinder call ...

laser printer
, the
Xerox 9700 The Xerox 9700 was a high-end laser printer Laser printing is an electrostatic digital printing process. It produces high-quality text and graphics (and moderate-quality photographs) by repeatedly passing a laser beam back and forth over a negat ...
. Stallman had modified the software for the Lab's previous laser 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 waiting for print jobs if the printer was jammed. Not being able to add these features to the new printer was a major inconvenience, as the printer was on a different floor from most of the users. This experience convinced Stallman of people's need to be able to freely modify the software they use. Richard Greenblatt, a fellow AI Lab hacker, founded Lisp Machines, Inc. (LMI) to market
Lisp machine Lisp machines are general-purpose computers designed to efficiently run Lisp Lisp (historically LISP) is a family of programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instr ...

Lisp machine
s, which he and Tom Knight designed at the lab. Greenblatt rejected outside investment, believing that the proceeds from the construction and sale of a few machines could be profitably reinvested in the growth of the company. In contrast, the other hackers felt that the
venture capital Venture capital (VC) is a form of private equity Private equity (PE) typically refers to investment funds, generally organized as limited partnerships, that buy and restructure companies that are not publicly traded. Private equity is a ty ...
-funded approach was better. As no agreement could be reached, hackers from the latter camp founded
Symbolics Symbolics is a defunct computer A computer is a machine that can be programmed to Execution (computing), carry out sequences of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Modern computers can perform generic sets of operations know ...
, with the aid of Russ Noftsker, an AI Lab administrator. Symbolics recruited most of the remaining hackers including notable hacker
Bill Gosper Ralph William Gosper Jr. (born April 26, 1943), known as Bill Gosper, is an American mathematician and programmer. Along with Richard Greenblatt, he may be considered to have founded the hacker A computer A computer is a machine that ...
, who then left the AI Lab. Symbolics also forced Greenblatt to resign by citing MIT policies. While both companies delivered proprietary software, Stallman believed that LMI, unlike Symbolics, had tried to avoid hurting the lab's community. For two years, from 1982 to the end of 1983, Stallman worked by himself to clone the output of the Symbolics programmers, with the aim of preventing them from gaining a monopoly on the lab's computers. Stallman argues that software users should have the freedom to share with their neighbors and be able to study and make changes to the software that they use. He maintains 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 software.
Eric S. Raymond Eric Steven Raymond (born December 4, 1957), often referred to as ESR, is an American software developer, open-source software advocate, and author of the 1997 essay and 1999 book ''The Cathedral and the Bazaar''. He wrote a guidebook for the R ...
, one of the creators of the
open-source movement The open-source-software movement is a movement that supports the use of open-source licenses for some or all software, a part of the broader notion of open collaborationOpen collaboration is "any system of innovation or production that relies ...
, argues that moral arguments, rather than pragmatic ones, alienate potential allies and hurt the end goal of removing code secrecy. In February 1984, Stallman quit his job at MIT to work full-time on the GNU project, which he had announced in September 1983. Since then, he had remained affiliated with MIT as an unpaid "visiting scientist" in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Until "around 1998", he maintained an office at the Institute that doubled as his legal residence.


GNU project

Stallman announced the plan for the
GNU operating system GNU () is an extensive collection of free software Free software (or libre software) is computer software distributed under terms that allow users to run the software for any purpose as well as to study, change, and distribute it and any ...
in September 1983 on several
ARPANET The Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) was the first wide-area packet-switching network with distributed control and one of the first networks to implement the Internet protocol suite, TCP/IP protocol suite. Both technologies ...
mailing lists and
USENET Usenet () is a worldwide distributed discussion system available on computers. It was developed from the general-purpose Unix-to-Unix Copy (UUCP) dial-up Dial-up Internet access is a form of Internet access Internet access is the ability of ...
. He started the project on his own and describes: "As an operating system developer, I had the right skills for this job. So even though I could not take success for granted, I realized that I was elected to do the job. I chose to make the system compatible with Unix so that it would be portable, and so that Unix users could easily switch to it." In 1985, Stallman published the
GNU Manifesto __NOTOC__ 235px, Richard M. Stallman (cover picture for Free as in Freedom'')">Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software">Free as in Freedom'') The ''GNU Manifesto'' is a call-to-action by Richard Stallman Richard Mat ...
, which outlined his motivation for creating a free operating system called GNU, which would be compatible with
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

Unix
. The name GNU is a
recursive acronym A recursive acronym is an acronym that recursion, refers to itself. The term was first used in print in 1979 in Douglas Hofstadter's book ''Gödel, Escher, Bach, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid'', in which Hofstadter invents the acron ...
for "GNU's Not Unix". Soon after, he started a nonprofit corporation called the Free Software Foundation to employ free software programmers and provide a legal infrastructure for the free software movement. Stallman was the nonsalaried president of the FSF, which is a
501(c)(3) A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is one of the 29 types of 501(c) organizat ...
nonprofit organization founded in
Massachusetts Massachusetts (, ), officially the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is the most populous state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * ...

Massachusetts
. Stallman 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 A text editor is a type of computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer program'' is ...

text editor
(
Emacs Emacs or EMACS (Editor MACroS) is a family of text editor A text editor is a type of computer program that edits plain text. Such programs are sometimes known as "notepad" software, following the naming of Microsoft Notepad. Text editors a ...

Emacs
),
compiler In computing, a compiler is a computer program that Translator (computing), translates computer code written in one programming language (the ''source'' language) into another language (the ''target'' language). The name "compiler" is primarily ...

compiler
( GCC),
debugger A debugger or debugging tool is a computer program In imperative programming, a computer program is a sequence of instructions in a programming language that a computer can execute or interpret. In declarative programming, a ''computer progra ...

debugger
(
GNU Debugger The GNU Debugger (GDB) is a portable debugger A debugger or debugging tool is a computer program used to test Test(s), testing, or TEST may refer to: * Test (assessment), an educational assessment intended to measure the respondents' kn ...
), and a build automator ( GNU make). The notable omission was a
kernel Kernel may refer to: Computing * Kernel (operating system), the central component of most operating systems * Kernel (image processing), a matrix used for image convolution * Compute kernel, in GPGPU programming * Kernel method, in machine learnin ...
. In 1990, members of the GNU project began using Carnegie Mellon's Mach
microkernel In computer science Computer science deals with the theoretical foundations of information, algorithms and the architectures of its computation as well as practical techniques for their application. Computer science is the study of , ...
in a project called
GNU Hurd GNU Hurd is a collection of microkernel In computer science, a microkernel (often abbreviated as μ-kernel) is the near-minimum amount of software that can provide the mechanisms needed to implement an operating system (OS). These mechanisms i ...
, which has yet to achieve the maturity level required for full POSIX compliance. In 1991,
Linus Torvalds Linus Benedict Torvalds ( , ; born 28 December 1969) is a Finnish-American software engineer who is the creator and, historically, the main developer of the Linux kernel The Linux kernel is a free and open-source Free and open-source soft ...
, a
Finnish Finnish may refer to: * Something or someone from, or related to Finland * Finnish culture * Finnish people or Finns, the primary ethnic group in Finland * Finnish language, the national language of the Finnish people * Finnish cuisine See also

...
student, used the GNU's development tools to produce the free monolithic
Linux kernel The Linux kernel is a free and open-source Free and open-source software (FOSS) is software that is both free software and open-source software where anyone is free software license, freely licensed to use, copy, study, and change the softwar ...
. The existing programs from the GNU project were readily ported to run on the resultant platform. Most sources use the name ''
Linux Linux ( or ) is a family of open-source Open source is source code that is made freely available for possible modification and redistribution. Products include permission to use the source code, design documents, or content of the product ...

Linux
'' to refer to the general-purpose operating system thus formed, while Stallman and the FSF call it ''GNU/Linux''. 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. Stallman's influences on hacker culture include the name
POSIX The Portable Operating System Interface (POSIX) is a family of standard Standard may refer to: Flags * Colours, standards and guidons * Standard (flag), a type of flag used for personal identification Norm, convention or requirement * St ...
and the
Emacs Emacs or EMACS (Editor MACroS) is a family of text editor A text editor is a type of computer program that edits plain text. Such programs are sometimes known as "notepad" software, following the naming of Microsoft Notepad. Text editors a ...

Emacs
editor. On
Unix Unix (; trademarked as UNIX) is a family of multitasking, multiuser Multi-user software is computer software Software is a collection of Instruction (computer science), instructions that tell a computer how to work. This is in contrast t ...

Unix
systems, GNU Emacs's popularity rivaled that of another editor , spawning an
editor war The editor war is the rivalry between users of the Emacs Emacs or EMACS (Editor MACroS) is a family of text editor A text editor is a type of computer program A computer program is a collection of instructions that can be executed by ...
. Stallman's take on this was to canonize himself as St. IGNUcius of the Church of Emacs and acknowledge that "vi vi vi is the editor of the beast", while "using a free version of vi is not a
sin In a religious Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, shrine, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ...

sin
; it is a
penance Penance is any act or a set of actions done out of repentance Repentance is reviewing one's actions and feeling contritionIn Christianity, contrition or contriteness (from the Latin ''contritus'' 'ground to pieces', i.e. crushed by guilt) is ...
". On his homepage Stallman explains what a life in the Church of Emacs means to its members: "Sainthood in the Church of Emacs requires living a life of purity—but in the Church of Emacs, this does not require celibacy (a sigh of relief is heard)". In 1992, developers at
Lucid Inc. Lucid Incorporated was a Menlo Park, California, Menlo Park, California-based computer software development company. Founded by Richard P. Gabriel in 1984, it went bankrupt in 1994. Beginnings Gabriel had been working for Lawrence Livermore Nati ...
doing their own work on Emacs clashed with Stallman and ultimately forked the software into what would become
XEmacs XEmacs is a graphical Graphics (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is a ...
. The technology journalist
Andrew Leonard Andrew Leonard (born 1962) is an American journalist who writes feature articles for ''San Francisco (magazine), San Francisco'' and contributes to Medium (service), Medium. From 1995 to 2014 he wrote for ''Salon (website), Salon.com''. He has also ...
has characterized what he sees as Stallman's uncompromising stubbornness as common among elite computer programmers: In 2018, Stallman instituted "Kind Communication Guidelines" for the GNU project to help its mailing list discussions remain constructive while avoiding explicitly promoting diversity. In October 2019, a public statement signed by 33 maintainers of the GNU project asserted that Stallman's behaviour had "undermined a core value of the GNU project: the empowerment of all computer users" and called for "GNU maintainers to collectively decide about the organization of the project". The statement was published soon after Stallman resigned as president of the FSF and left his "visiting scientist" role at MIT in September 2019. In spite of that, Stallman remained head of the GNU project.


Activism

Stallman has written many essays on software freedom, and has been an outspoken political campaigner for the free software movement since the early 1990s. The speeches he has regularly given are titled ''The GNU Project and the Free Software Movement'', ''The Dangers of Software Patents'', and ''Copyright and Community in the Age of Computer Networks''. In 2006 and 2007, during the eighteen month public consultation for the drafting of version 3 of the GNU General Public License, he added a fourth topic explaining the proposed changes. Stallman's staunch advocacy for free software inspired the creation of the Virtual Richard M. Stallman (), software that analyzes the packages currently installed on a
Debian Debian (), also known as Debian GNU/Linux, is a GNU/Linux distribution composed of free and open-source software, developed by the community-supported Debian Project, which was established by Ian Murdock on August 16, 1993. The first version of ...

Debian
GNU/Linux system, and reports those that are from the non-free tree. Stallman disagrees with parts of Debian's definition of free software. In 1999, Stallman called for development of a free online encyclopedia through the means of inviting the public to contribute articles. The resulting GNUPedia was eventually retired in favour of the emerging
Wikipedia Wikipedia ( or ) is a free content Free content, libre content, or free information is any kind of functional work, work of art A work of art, artwork, art piece, piece of art or art object is an artistic creati ...

Wikipedia
, which had similar aims and was enjoying greater success. Stallman is a world traveler and has visited at least 65 countries, mostly to speak about free software and the GNU project. According to Stallman, the free software movement has much in common with that of
Mahatma Gandhi Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; ; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist Quote: "... marks Gandhi as a hybrid cosmopolitan figure who transformed ... anti-colonial nationalist politics in the ...

Mahatma Gandhi
. Stallman is also highly critical of the effect that drug patents have had on developing countries. In
Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern coast of South America, consisting of a continent A continent is any of several large l ...

Venezuela
, Stallman has delivered public speeches and promoted the adoption of free software in the state's oil company (
PDVSA Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A. (PDVSA, ) (English: Petroleum of Venezuela) is the Venezuela Venezuela (; ), officially the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela ( es, link=no, República Bolivariana de Venezuela), is a country on the northern ...
), in municipal government, and in the nation's military. In meetings with
Hugo Chávez Hugo Rafael Chávez Frías (, ; 28 July 1954 – 5 March 2013) was a Venezuelan politician who was president of Venezuela from 1999 until his death in 2013, except for a brief period in April 2002. Chávez was also leader of the Fifth ...

Hugo Chávez
and in public speeches, Stallman criticised some policies on television broadcasting, free speech rights, and privacy. Stallman was on the Advisory Council of Latin American television station from its launch but resigned in February 2011, criticizing pro-Gaddafi propaganda during the
Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low stand ...
. In August 2006, at his meetings with the government of the Indian State of
Kerala Kerala ( ; ) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper ...

Kerala
, he persuaded officials to discard proprietary software, such as Microsoft's, at state-run schools. This has resulted in a landmark decision to switch all school computers in 12,500 high schools from
Windows Microsoft Windows, commonly referred to as Windows, is a group of several proprietary {{Short pages monitor * 9882 Stallman * ''Free as in Freedom'', a biography by Sam Williams * Free Software Street * History of free and open-source software * Lisp Machine Lisp * ''Revolution OS'' * *
Free Software Foundation The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, which promotes the universal freedom to study, distribute, create, and modify compu ...


References


External links

*
In Support of Richard Stallman
a website which advocates for Stallman. * * * *
Essays on the ''Philosophy of the GNU Project''
almost all written by Stallman {{DEFAULTSORT:Stallman, Richard Matthew 1953 births Activists from New York City American atheists American bloggers American computer programmers Anti-natalists Articles containing video clips Artificial intelligence researchers Copyright activists Education activists Emacs Filkers Free software people Free software programmers GNU people Grace Murray Hopper Award laureates Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences alumni Internet activists Jewish atheists Jewish American scientists Linux people Lisp (programming language) people Living people MacArthur Fellows Massachusetts Institute of Technology School of Science alumni Members of the Free Software Foundation board of directors Members of the United States National Academy of Engineering Privacy activists Programming language designers