…the personal…


…is political

From Stallman’s GNU Manifesto:

Why I Must Write GNU

I consider that the Golden Rule requires that if I like
a program I must share it with other people who like
it. Software sellers want to divide the users and
conquer them, making each user agree not to share with
others. I refuse to break solidarity with other users
in this way. I cannot in good conscience sign
a nondisclosure agreement or a software license
agreement. For years I worked within the Artificial
Intelligence Lab to resist such tendencies and other
inhospitalities, but eventually they had gone too far:
I could not remain in an institution where such things
are done for me against my will.

So that I can continue to use computers without
dishonor, I have decided to put together a sufficient
body of free software so that I will be able to get
along without any software that is not free. I have
resigned from the AI Lab to deny MIT any legal excuse
to prevent me from giving GNU away.

Why GNU Will Be Compatible with Unix

Unix is not my ideal system, but it is not too bad. The
essential features of Unix seem to be good ones, and
I think I can fill in what Unix lacks without spoiling
them. And a system compatible with Unix would be
convenient for many other people to adopt.

How GNU Will Be Available

GNU is not in the public domain. Everyone will be
permitted to modify and redistribute GNU, but no
distributor will be allowed to restrict its further
redistribution. That is to say, proprietary
modifications will not be allowed. I want to make sure
that all versions of GNU remain free.

Why Many Other Programmers Want to Help

I have found many other programmers who are excited
about GNU and want to help.

Many programmers are unhappy about the
commercialization of system software. It may enable
them to make more money, but it requires them to feel
in conflict with other programmers in general rather
than feel as comrades. The fundamental act of
friendship among programmers is the sharing of
programs; marketing arrangements now typically used
essentially forbid programmers to treat others as
friends. The purchaser of software must choose between
friendship and obeying the law. Naturally, many decide
that friendship is more important. But those who
believe in law often do not feel at ease with either
choice. They become cynical and think that programming
is just a way of making money.

By working on and using GNU rather than proprietary
programs, we can be hospitable to everyone and obey the
law. In addition, GNU serves as an example to inspire
and a banner to rally others to join us in sharing.
This can give us a feeling of harmony which is
impossible if we use software that is not free. For
about half the programmers I talk to, this is an
important happiness that money cannot replace.