I’m watching the Spurs/Mavs game, so this may end up chock full of basketball metaphors. Last week, I watched Revolution OS. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a documentary about the birth and rise of the free software movement and Linux. The film is full of interviews of such open source/free software luminaries as Richard Stallman, Bruce Perens, Eric Reynolds, Linus Torvalds, Larry Augustin and others. It’s an amazing story, and done so well, and made so interesting that I think even non-geeks can understand it and be at least entertained by it.
Why should you watch it? It’s a great example of geeks filling their own needs and everyone benefitting from it. It’s a story about the search for community, and real-world idealism. It’s a story about the extremes driving the middle, and how we can all affect change in our world. Yeah, it’s a big story, and I think the film did a great job giving an overview and providing an even-handed view of the players.
Richard Stallman can be viewed as an extremist. He thinks all software should be free, and is decidedly anti-Intellectual Property. He’s an idealist. I can respect that, and I see the need for Richard and people like him. Without Richard, we may never have had the free software movement, all the great GNU software that drives a large percentage of the internet, and Linux may have never gotten off Linus’ hard drive and into the public imagination. His work on the GNU Project gave the Linux kernel something to run. The GNU Project provided the compiler for people to start porting other software to Linux. It just amazes me that things happened in the order they did. If Stallman had chosen to start on the kernel first, then Linux may never have happened.
If you get a chance to watch it, please do. It’s informative and entertaining, and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Heck, you may even jump on board and start using Linux yourself. Ok, maybe you won’t go that far, but you might start to see that there are alternatives to Windows, and that’s good enough for me.