This chapter introduces and explains some of the most relevant features of the free software philosophy formulated by Richard M. Stallman in the 1980s. The free software philosophy and the free software movement built on it historically preceded the open source movement by a decade and provided some of the key technological, legal and ideological foundations of the open source movement. Thus, in order to study the ideology of open source and its differences with regard to other modes of software production, it is important to understand the reasoning and the presuppositions included in Stallman’s free software philosophy.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Liberalism: A philosophical view holding that the primary political goal is (individual) liberty.
Communitarianism: A philosophical view holding that the primary political goal is the good life of the community.
Free Software (FS): Software that can be used, copied, studied, modified, and redistributed without restriction.
Hacker Community: A community of more or less likeminded computer enthusiasts that developed in the 1960s among programmers working on early computers in academic institutions, notably the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since then, the community has spread throughout the world with the help of personal computers and the Internet.
Copyleft: The practice of using copyright law in order to remove restrictions on the distribution of copies and modified versions of a work for others and require the same freedoms be preserved in modified versions.