The glory of GNU: The GNU Manifesto at 30

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“So that I can continue to use computers without dishonor, I have decided to put together a sufficient body of free software so that I will be able to get along without any software that is not free.”
– Richard Stallman, GNU Manifesto

The GNU Manifesto turns 30 this month. It’s impossible to overstate the impact that this manifesto and it’s author Richard Stallman have had on computer science and technology. His views are extreme and I don’t know anyone who agrees with him 100%, but Richard Stallman walks the talk and has been true to his revolutionary vision for his entire life. I shudder to think of what the state of the technology world would be like without his contributions. If you wonder what I’m going on about, read this high-level overview in The New Yorker.

Richard Stallman’s vision of software freedom gave us all of the modern computing niceties we so frequently take for granted today. Without GNU, there would be no Linux, so no LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP), Perl, Python, Wikipedia, WordPress, Firefox, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Drupal, Ruby on Rails, Google, Facebook, Android, Raspberry Pis, the OLPC project, no Mac OS X, so no iOS, no cross-platform printing, the list is practically endless. Everyone, from Microsoft to Yahoo, Ford to BlackBerry, Apple to Google, relies on Open Source, and almost always GNU software. It lies at the heart of all of the software that we all use, every one of us, every day.

But how he has shaped Computer Science and technology are just the tip of the iceberg. GNU and Stallman’s organization, the Free Software Foundation (FSF), founded to promote the concerts of software freedom, articulated the concepts that are at the heart of Open Source Software. Open Source as a concept, and the democracies and meritocracies that define most open source software projects, sparked the conversations that have lead to Open Courseware, Open Science, Open Government, Creative Commons, the Open Web, and more. Richard Stallman is an extremist in his views, the FSF is a quirky organization, but in my opinions, he and his organization have given the world much of what makes it good today.

Happy Birthday to the GNU Manifesto.

GoSaBe Blog - Mar 18, 2015 | Linux, Security, Web Development, Web Standards