You Are \*Here\*
By laurar on Nov 16, 2006
Building 32 on the MIT Campus is an intriguing building. It sits on the site of the famous old "building 20" and there's plywood from the old structure at the end of one of the long halls. It's a structure that seems to be a double-helix of curving hallways...Staircases that lead to isolated mezzanines. Elevators that take you to floors higher. Doors that open into expansive work areas that look like a nursery school for the most brilliant minds.
The camera crew dropped in on a Monday afternoon to interview Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation, and the author of the GNU Public License. Java, GPL, and Richard Stallman.
Now \*there\* are 4 words that in the past didn't go well together. Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation were always that voice on our shoulder, saying that Java should be Free.
Today it is. Free as in Freedom.
Free software developers can now look at Java.
Sun has open sourced their implementations of Java technology. - Java Standard Edition (traditionally run on desktops), Java Micro Edition (traditionally run on phones and embedded devices) and Java Enterprise Edition (traditionally run in business infrastructure) - using the Free Software Foundation's GNU General Public License (GPLv2), the license at the center of the GNU/Linux community - We have reached out to include a community of developers that historically could not participate in our innovation.
Which brings me to why we were lost in Building 32 last Monday. To record Richard Stallman's reaction and commentary on the plan. Would he support us? Would he applaud the effort?
We wandered the building and found his office-- a complex world, full of books, magazines, equipment, a fabulously diverse music collection that he runs on a system powered by a refurbished Onkyo receiver. Richard sat for our interview and was enthusiastic. And talkative!
As part of the interview, we asked, What is Free Software?
"Free software means software that respects the user's freedom. There are four essential freedoms that a user of software should always have.
--Freedom 0 is the freedom to run the program as you wish
--Freedom 1 is the freedom to study the source code and change it so the program does what you wish when you run it.
--Freedom 2 is the freedom to distribute copies to other up to and including republication when you wish.
--Freedom 3 is the freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions up to and including publication when you wish.
With these four freedoms, the users live in freedom and in particular they're free to cooperate with each other. Free to form communities in which people help each other. And free software develops democratically under the control of its users. So free software is the software that goes with freedom and democracy."
As the video team started to carry out the equipment, the building didn't seem quite as confusing. I hope we visit there often.