Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0596002879
ISBN-10: 0596002874
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
Condition: Used - Good
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Book in good condition. No writing or highlighting in text. No loose or missing pages. Ships directly from Amazon!
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
24 Used from $0.78
FREE Shipping on orders over $25.
More Buying Choices
8 New from $9.93 24 Used from $0.78 3 Collectible from $9.95
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Best Books of the Year So Far
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for the Best Books of the Year So Far in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.
click to open popover

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In 1984, Richard Stallman launched the GNU Project for the purpose of developing a complete UNIX-like operating system that would allow for free software use. What he developed was the GNU operating system. (GNU is a recursive acronym for "GNU's Not UNIX,'' and it is pronounced guh-NEW. Linux is a variant of the GNU operating system.) This biography traces the evolution of Stallman's eccentric genius from gifted child to teen outcast to passionate crusader for free software. To Stallman, free software is morally vital, and for the past two decades he has devoted his life to eradicating proprietary source codes from the world. Savvy programmers revere Stallman; Bill Gates reviles him. Much of the fascination with Stallman lies in his messianic zeal, which Williams, a freelance writer specializing in high-tech culture, has attempted to capture here, drawing on a number of interviews with the unconventional Stallman, his associates, fans, and critics. The result is an esoteric and uneven work whose audience will likely be limited to the army of programmers drawn to Stallman's worthy cause. Buy accordingly. Joe Accardi, Harper Coll. Lib., Palatine, IL
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Author

I am the author of this book, and I welcome all feedback. You can reach me at my email address: sam@inow.com. O'Reilly is also offering a corrections page. If you see a portion [or portions] of the book that needs to be corrected or improved in any way, let me know.

The people at O'Reilly have also been gracious enough to publish this book under the GNU Free Documentation License. This means that readers have the freedom not only to copy and lend physical copies of the book but to copy and lend electronic copies as well. They also have the freedom to modify the book and make derivative versions with or without my permission.

Although O'Reilly has yet to publish and electronic version of the book, I have taken advantage of the liberties provided in the GFDL to create my own HTML-version of the book. This version is free [as in free beer] to read and free [as in freedom] to copy, modify and republish. My intention is to begin making my own modifications to the book, incorporating feedback received from initial readers along with my own changes, later this spring.

The site's title should give a hint ast to my intentions. Like Mozilla, I see FAIFzilla as the evolving "source code" for later versions of _Free as in Freedom_. Just as AOL/Netscape periodically dips into Mozilla to generate upgrades of its web browser, I'm hoping that O'Reilly, or any other motivated publisher, will dip into FAIFzilla to come out with second version of _Free as in Freedom_ sometime late next year. It's an experimental idea, but judging by the success of past O'Reilly projects -- namely, _Open Sources_ [1999] and _Cathedral and the Bazaar_ [2000] -- I think it might lead to interesting results.


The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (March 11, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0596002874
  • ISBN-13: 978-0596002879
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #616,405 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The reviewer who admittedly has not read the book also has no idea what context the author and Stallman use the word "free" in. This is "free" as in "freedom", as the title says. Not "free" as in "free beer", as they say.
Stallman's views are basically for free information. The base price of free software can be one dollar or 1000 dollars. The source code for it must be available, though, and it must be made distributable for those who want it. The idea is that interested programmers can add, improve, and change around the program for the benefit of everyone.
If we extend this purpose to include his book, as the reviewer implied, then it would still be completely valid. Source code (the English syntax) is available, so people can modify the book, and they can distribute it so that others can do the same. The base price can easily be [money]. The pricing is irrelevent if the other two conditions are met.
I suppose that the reviewer would know these things if he was qualified to review the book (that is, if he had read it, which he admittedly has not).
On the topic of the book itself, I enjoyed it immensely. It was definitely not too short, and most certainly not too long. It was just right for the type of story it was telling. The book focuses mostly on Stallman's life and his decisions and discoveries that he made that led him to start the Free Software Foundation.
Throughout the book, it becomes clear that Stallman is a very gifted man (he learned Calculus when he was seven), but it wasn't until his college years that he really found his niche. When he did, his gifts became apparent, and his true potentials came out.
I would encourage anyone who is interested in free or open-source software to read this book for the background on the man who started it all. His rationale is very thought-provoking, and makes you wonder about some of the other things in life that should be questioned, but now are simply taken for granted.
Comment 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Short story: this book deserves 2.5 stars at best. For the longer version, read on.
First the good news. Williams takes some pains to understand and accurately portray RMS, which, from all indications, is no easy task. FAIF, in taking this measured look, does supply some perspective to this at times under-appreciated contributor to the "new" computer revolution.
I also appreciated the eclectic trajectories of the author. First, Williams publishes FAIF under the Gnu Free Document License (GFDL), thereby making it a "free book". Although a completely natural step considering the subject matter, publishing the book as such is an important extension of the general principle that certain ideas should be freely accessible and modifiable. Second, he borrows from a range of excellent sources, even going so far as to reference "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" in the Epilogue!
Furthermore, the abridged history of the roots of hackerdom is particularly well done, if somewhat thickly worded. Attention was also clearly paid to chapter length, making that aspect of the book "readable" and pleasant.
Now for the not-so-good news. The writing style is far from fluid: I didn't feel as though I was lead through the events in the book so much as I was thrown into them. To make matters worse, some events were irrelevant (I still can't figure out why the treatment of RMS's mother's politics were given so much attention), others over-quoted (I can read Levy's "Hackers" myself), while still others were just plain inaccurate.
The last of these transgressions is certainly the most serious, and merits some detail. As one example, on page 143 Williams describes the Linux kernel as "a bored-out, super-charged version of Minix.
Read more ›
Comment 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
It's hard to be neutral about Richard Stallman. Some people love him--others hate him. But he's been the key player in the free software movement. This nicely written book helps us to understand what makes him tick, and why he is what he is. It goes back to his youth and even includes interviews with his mother. The book is by no means a defense of Stallman. Instead, it probes beneath the surface and chronicles the events that have made him such a prominent and sometimes enigmatic figure among free software and open source developers.
While Stallman cooperated with the author, he has no financial connections with the book (to address the concerns of one reviewer here).
Comment 10 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really didn't have high expectations for this book, I figured it would be nothing more than a historical account of the accomplishments of RMS, I was dead wrong. "Free as in Freedom" looks at RMS from a personal and technical level. From his beginnings as an awkward boy in NYC, all the way to rise of the free software movement. I figured this book would be written from extremely pro-gnu standpoint, but I was pleasantly surprised to find an objective account of Richard's issues with the open source movement.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
...Such is the challenge that all biographer's face, and Williams does a good job of sorting out the intricacies of Stallman's inspirations and motivations.
In fact, it is Stallman's head that has been both his greatest advantage and detriment. His pure intellect is what enabled him to code for days at a time and develop the concept of free software. It enabled him to execute those ideas in classic pieces of software such as the Emacs editor, EDMA modular development environment, GCC compiler, and much more... But although Stallman's intellectual prowess was clearly genius material, his inability to effectively deal with people and his need to macro-manage alienated many of those around him. Williams cites an incident wherein a dinner guest innocuously uttered the phrase "God forbid," to which Stallman replied, "I hate to break it to you, but there is no God." Such utterances are indicative of Stallman's inner demons, many of which are related to the fact that he likely suffers from Asberger syndrome. (Asberger syndrome is one of the disorders on the autistic spectrum. For a fascinating look at how Asberger syndrome affects an inordinately high number of people in the technology industry, see "The Geek Syndrome"..
Whereas Stallman is an acutely individualistic person who, in his early days, simply wanted to be left alone to code, Linus Torvalds is a much more personable and pleasant person. That trait alone is not what made Linux so ubiquitous, but it is a key reason why the operating system is known as Linux, and not GNU/Linux -- much to Stallman's chagrin. Williams describes numerous instances wherein Stallman chastised him for inadvertently using the term Linux and not GNU/Linux.
Read more ›
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews