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Free As In Freedom

3.79 of 5 stars 3.79  ·  rating details  ·  518 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Free as in Freedom interweaves biographical snapshots of GNU project founder Richard Stallman with the political, social and economic history of the free software movement. It examines Stallman's unique personality and how that personality has been at turns a driving force and a drawback in terms of the movement's overall success. Free as in Freedom examines one man's 20-y ...more
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Published August 1st 2003 by Tsinghua University Press (first published 2002)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,105)
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Seth Kenlon
I read the version 2.0 of this book, which was revised by Richard Stallman himself.

The book is amazing. I'm not a fan of biographies or auto-biographies, but most of this concentrates less on Stallman's emotions and thought processes as it does on the notable events throughout the development of GNU, the FSF, and, eventually, the projects that were so greatly influenced by the very presence of GNU.

EVERYTHING technical was interesting. Actually, it was riveting. Reading about the hacker culture w
...more
Bruce
Overall, this was an enjoyable read. I picked up my signed copy at the FSF bookstore a couple of months ago, really just because I wanted to make a donation, but I wanted to get some loot from it too. :)

Richard Stallman is a visionary. Like many visionaries, few others catch or understand what he sees in the first handful of decades. In this way, I disagree with one major aspect of Williams' analysis: that the gap that separates the utilitarian "open source movement" and the truly "hacker" value
...more
Matteo Anelli
Un quadro realista che percorre la storia politica di Richard Stallman e del software libero. Un'analisi impietosa che mostra come le ideologie dei singoli alla fine rimangano intrappolate nella solitudine e nell'incomprensione che le ha generate, sino a diventare liturgia, più che cultura. E' un libro che parla più di politica che di software e mostra tutti i pregi ed i limiti della controcultura leaderistica e antisistema, tracciando una storia sotto certi versi epica del movimento del softwar ...more
Paul Ivanov
After a few local discussion about the merits of BSD vs GPL, listening to the Moglen v. O'Reilly (2007) match, and out of wanting to read something on my N97's ebook reader (ZXReader), I read through Sam Williams' Free as in Freedom.

An interesting biography of Richard Stallman. The bulk of the book covers RMS's childhood through the pre-history and inception of the FSF. There are numerous stories which cover the full spectrum of his personality, as well as his ethical beliefs. The last few chapt
...more
Bryan Brown
I downloaded this book from the FSF website along with "Free Software, Free Society." They really follow through with their message by making these resources freely available. Although Williams' portrayal of Stallman as a bit of a tragic hero is probably more accurate than Stallman would like to admit, I think that he (Williams) went a bit out of his way to paint Stallman in a harsh light at times. If you are planning on reading this book, make sure to get the 2nd edition (available here for fre ...more
Christopher
FREE AS IN FREEDOM is Sam Williams' biography of legendary software developer and political thinker Richard Stallman. Founder of the GNU project, Stallman is little-known outside of a relatively small world of computing cognoscenti, but without him Linux and many other modern computing innovations would hardly be possible. In an interesting twist, the publisher O'Reilly has released this book under the GNU Free Documentation License, meaning that the book may be freely copied and sold.

The book g
...more
Alex
I’ve just finished reading Free as in Freedom a biography of Richard Stallman the founder of the free software movement. The title takes it’s name from the oft repeated statement used to highlight that software freedom is not about the price rather what you can do with it.

The book itself is relatively short and is easy to read. It combines historical sections describing Stallman’s intellectual journey with alternating chapters describing experiences Sam Williams had while interviewing this famou
...more
Ken Jackson
This book is about Richard M. Stallman and the extremely principled fight for "free software" that he has been waging for over two decades. The author gives personal narrative of his interviews with and exposure to this controversial individual as he lays out the history of the free software movement, Stallman's dream for a GNU operating system, the partial preemption of that dream by GNU/Linux, and the huge success of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

I thoroughly appreciate Stallman's influ
...more
Russ
This is a great book it serves as both a biography of Richard Stallman and also does a good job of explaining many of the values of the Free Software Movement. I was impressed that the book was licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. I liked how the book provided so much background information on RMS as it helped me to understand what influenced him to do what he did. It also did a good job of clarifying a few things such as the difference between "free software" and "open source" (fr ...more
Finrod
Questo libro, anche se a tratti forse leggermente pesante per chi non è un geek, è molto interessante non solo come storia del movimento per il software libero o come biografia del suo “profeta”, ma forse ancora di più perché ripercorre la “preistoria” della rivoluzione informatica che, soprattutto grazie all'avvento di Internet, ha così profondamente cambiato la nostra vita negli ultimi 20 anni. Un libro per scoprire com'era la vita e cosa pensavano i programmatori negli anni '70 e '80... anni ...more
Jon Merkley
This one was mostly just informative. Not in a bad way, though. It showed a side of Richard Stallman that I've never seen before and I think that was a good thing. If all you have to go by is what he put up on his site, and what you may have read on wikipedia.org, then this book will show you a bit more of the kind of person he is. If you don't know who Richard Stallman is, what the Free Software Foundation is, what the GPL is, or what GNU/Linux is, and you don't really care then don't bother wi ...more
Clayton Stangeland
I liked this book. I am a computer programmer and love open source software. This was a good look at how open source started and about GNU and Richard Stallman in particular who were the major drivers in getting open source off the ground.
Nguyên Duy Phạm
While it's true that this book can be considered a vehicle to promote the Free Software movement and its leader, Mr. Richard Stallman, and even though I've never been a subscriber to his philosophy regarding software pricing (or the lack thereof, as he would prefer), this book still serves as an excellent history of the hacking culture of the late 20th century. One can't help but marvel at all the accomplishments, all the tools and "toys" that Mr. Stallman had created and given away freely. It r ...more
Graham Lee
Any biography is the subjective interpretation of the author. As this book also includes the subjective annotations and editions of its subject, it makes that point very clear. There's plenty of interesting content here but it's clear that the result is a palimpsest of biases.
Manuel Araujo
Este libro te permite comprender el movimiento del Software Libre o como yo prefiero llamarle la Filosofía utópica de Stallman.
Si eres defensior del Movimiento del Software Libre, este libro es lectura obligatoria.
Ashutosh
Oct 07, 2011 Ashutosh rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Computer Science History Buffs
Recommended to Ashutosh by: Aaditya Sood
Just Finished Free As In Freedom by Sam Williams (http://oreilly.com/openbook/freedom/). I read the print edition but I just realized that there was an online edition also available. This book chronicles Stallman's journey, his ideology & him as a person with all his idiosyncrasies. Before typing gcc foo.c -o foo one should read the book only to find out how GCC is a gift of a singularly brilliant Stallman. Without him we would not even have GNU/Linux which we so treasure these days. The boo ...more
Mark
I'd probably give this a 3.5, given the option. Nice to finally get some of these details and stories, but the book seemed a bit disorganized. Also, while it seemed to have an idea of how to finish, I don't think the conclusion of the book was executed well.
Made Adi
Richard Stallman is an enigmatic character. His quirkiness and stubbornness are his strongest assets that make him successful to be a crusader of a digital freedom. He is one of the people deserves this a tribute: "those who are crazy enough to change the world are often the ones who do". This book gives us perspective on how unique a character he is in his fight to force his belief amongst the wave of proprietary softwares.

I'm forever grateful to his direct work (like gcc, gpl, and fsf) and in
...more
Michael J
I found this book much more interesting than I had originally expected. The book will likely only fascinate anyone involved with Linux...er, GNU/Linux, but it's an insightful look into the brilliant mind and awkward quirks of the original father of the open source movement.
David
Good book... But I wish it could have touched more topis related to Stallman's philosophy.
Sigurd Alnes
The book Free as in Freedom is very well written, and I don't believe that anyone could have written a better book about Richard M Stallman than what Sam Williams has done here. It's an easy read, but the content is very interesting. I found the comments from Stallman quite amusing at times, and they added some authenticity to this book. Despite that Richard has devoted his life to the free software fight, and that the book reflects this, I believe that Free as in Freedom is a book anyone would ...more
Benjamin
Jul 25, 2010 Benjamin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the roots of open source/free software.
Shelves: read-2010-07
This was a fascinating biography of one of the keystones of modern computing and the free software movement. Richard M. Stallman really is a notable character for his supreme honesty and frankness as much as for his volatility in groups and extreme stubbornness, and Williams' book really brought that across. I feel as though I know Stallman a little more, and I now deeply appreciate the incredible impact he has had on the tools I use every day and the philosophy he has relentlessly pursued for d ...more
D
Richard Stallman, founder of GNU/The Free Software Foundation, gets labeled as a bit of kook, and that's not entirely off base. This book relates some of the formative events that lead to RMS's becoming a hard line proponent of what really amounts to: Put things in public domain (so to speak) for the ultimate betterment of society. The guy still gets a lot of mockery even within parts of the hacker community, but given what he and GNU have done for us, we all owe him a great debt.
Colin Grove
Sam Williams manages to explain how Stallman's philosophy comes naturally from his personality, without tying Stallman's much-admired philosophy to his combative and sometimes alienating personality. Understanding Stallman's personality is important in order to understand the splits in the free software/open source movement, whether or not one is inclined to take Stallman's side. This biography is also an interesting study in how such great things can come from such unhappy men.
Seth Kenlon
Bought this from the FSF booth at USENIX. An interesting book, worth a read, but it smacks of biographical trivia that I'm not too sure I'm all that fond of. I mean, I guess i should have expected it, but the title tricked me a little. I expected it to be more about Free Software and less about "the rise and fall of Richard Stallman" - which it isn't, exactly, but that's the feeling of it.

Frankly, the GPVv3 is a much more interesting and enlightening read.
Senthil Kumaran
rms's bio. If you are interested in any of his writings, it would be good to read this. I rembering having read this about 8 years ago, so I do not really remember the details. All I remember is the author had a hard time publishing this book, because he had to publish it "Free" too because he was writing on someone who stood for "Free as in Freedom". Yeah, you will find the entire copy of the book in the www under the GPL license.

Franco Vite
Tutto è iniziato con lui, nell'ormai lontano 1985. Le premesse e il contorno, splendidamente raccontate, si trovano nell'imperdibile "Hackers" di S. Levy; ma il resto della storia, il "come è andata a finire", lo si legge qui, nella storia eccezionale di Richard M. Stallman, RMS per gli amici (e per i nemici), il Sig. Software Libero, colui che è riuscito dove, probabilmente, nessun altro sarebbe riuscito.
Da leggere.
Dani Arribas-bel
Fairly interesting read that goes beyond the software world to reflect more on social values and the current trends on how our society treats knowledge and access to it.

Also the portrait of a quite unique person that draws as much attraction and respect as laughter and repulse. I was already quite an admirer of Stallman, after this book I can only reaffirm myself. If rms didn't exist, we'd have to invent it.
Kai Koenig
Interesting story about Richard Stallman and his motives. If you're not into IT, software etc. probably nothing for you though.
Saurabh Sharma
I learnt a lot from this book. Any one even remotely related to the computer field must read this book. The message this book gives is important even from an end user perspective. The message I liked the most is that we shouldn't have reinvent the wheel just because the one who did it before us got it patented. It really pays to not be selfish in some case.
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