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Happy Anniversary, Richard

Happy Anniversary, Richard

This past Monday was Richard Stallman's 20th anniversary. Twenty years ago he quit his job at MIT and started developing the free GNU operating system.

Twenty years and a complete GNU system suitable for production use has never been released.

Ah, well, Stallman did manage to get the improbable, socially disruptive, anti-capitalist free software movement off the ground and give the world copyleft and the GPL. He's also seen Linux, which he claims is a GNU derivative and should properly be called GNU/Linux, take root.

Success, of course, as we all know from the movie magazines, has its own problems.

Stallman is now fretting about the curse of "popularity" and worrying that the movement isn't really "freeing" people from the bonds of proprietary software and that the unindoctrinated newbies are "merely installing free software alongside" of the old proprietary stuff.

Then there's the little matter of non-free software running on Linux.

Now that puts a real burr under the old warhorse's saddle.

He says, "Users cannot be free while using a non-free program. To free the citizens of cyberspace, we have to replace those non-free programs, not accept them. They are not contributions to our community, they are temptations to settle for continuing non-freedom."

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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