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Richard Stallman

Richard Stallman



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.


Richard Stallman is the founder of the GNU Project, launched in 1984 to develop the free software operating system GNU. The name ``GNU'' is a recursive acronym for ``GNU's Not Unix''.

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 also wrote the GNU symbolic debugger (gdb), GNU Emacs, and various other programs for the GNU operating system.

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 Sweden. In 1998 he received the Electronic Frontier Foundation's pioneer award along with Linus Torvalds. In 1999 he received the Yuri Rubinski award. In 2001 he received a second honorary doctorate, from the University of Glasgow, and shared the Takeda award for social/economic betterment with Torvalds and Ken Sakamura. In 2002 he was elected to the US National Academy of Engineering, and in 2003 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003 he was named an honorary professor of the Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria in Peru, and received an honorary doctorate from the Free University of Brussels. In 2004 he received an honorary doctorate from the Universidad Nacional de Salta, in Argentina.