Richard Stallman will speak about the goals and philosophy of the Free Software Movement, and the status and history the GNU operating system, which in combination with the kernel Linux is now used by tens of millions of users world-wide.
GNU is free software: everyone is free to copy it and redistribute it, as well as to make changes either large or small. Non-free software keeps users divided and helpless, forbidden to share it and unable to change it. A free operating system is essential for people to be able to use computers in freedom.
Today, Linux-based variants of the GNU system, based on the kernel Linux developed by Linus Torvalds, are in widespread use. There are estimated to be some 20 million users of GNU/Linux systems today.
Richard Stallman is the principal author of the GNU Compiler Collection, a portable optimizing compiler which was designed to support diverse architectures and multiple languages. The compiler now supports over 30 different architectures and 7 programming languages.
Stallman graduated from Harvard in 1974 with a BA in physics. During his college years, he also worked as a staff hacker at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, learning operating system development by doing it. He wrote the first extensible Emacs text editor there in 1975. He also developed the AI technique of dependency-directed backtracking, also known as truth maintenance. In January 1984 he resigned from MIT to start the GNU project.
Stallman received the Grace Hopper award for 1991 from the Association for
Computing Machinery, for his development of the first Emacs
editor. In 1990 he was awarded a Macarthur foundation fellowship, and in 1996
an honorary doctorate from the Royal Institute of Technology in